BPM can no longer be ignored.
In today’s economic climate, companies demand higher productivity, better control of costs, improved risk management and minimized time to market to cope with frequent market changes and increased competitive pressure. To deliver continous business improvement and operational excellence, organizations need to focus on their core processes and manage them the best they can and even the best they can’t.
By using the holistic management approach called BPM, they can promote a continuous process improvement engine within the company that enhances business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility and integration with technology.
BPM can benefit organizations in many ways which can be chosen by priority by each implementer and which needs to be tightly coupled to their business goals:
- Centralize the control and management of the performance of companies resources be them human, systems or processes
- Create visibility of end-to-end processes spread in multiple systems and locations
- Enable the agility to rapidly adjust processes to react to changes in regulations or implementation of new laws
- Provide efficiency through automation and by removing white spaces between activities and tasks within a process and providing as well out-of-the-box functionalities for continuous process improvement.
Why BPM can’t be ignored
Basically all companies are built on processes. How do you hire a new employee? How do you buy new materials? How to give out a loan to a customer? Is you stock finished, how to replenish it before it happens? All this are questions that have a similar answer: through a process; may it be formal or informal. A company will have to understand, document, know and master its processes (at least its core ones) to be as competitive as its competitors and to stay alive in their respective market. They will need to put in place a process (again) to review, document, improve, re-engineer, automate them and restart again this process endlessly. Each of the processes will have to be tagged with key performance indicators, turn-around-times estimates to measure the efficiency of the process and its executors (the employees).
Ultimately a company should have all its processes reviewed through the process above and automated to benefit at most of the reviews and this will lead if done well to better productivity, enhanced revenues and profitability.
As businesses become more sophisticated internally and interconnected externally, managers phrase BPM more often to address a need for IT systems to respond to this ever-changing business landscape at least at the same pace of change.
At the same time, they would like to keep their IT investments under control and not grow by the pace of change. They would like to leverage their past IT investments and not jeopardize the business-critical data and knowledge accumulated on the legacy systems at the expense of new breakthrough IT systems.
BPM comes into play at this point.
It offers orchestration, and proposes to combine existing systems in intelligent and innovative ways so that together they could provide a solution to a present challenge in a coordinated manner. The orchestration should be around people and systems in a process-centric methodology and all these resources should act with ease towards achieving a common goal.
A true BPM implementation should provide management with controlled IT costs and leveraged legacy systems. This report will highlight a solution approach of BPM in a basic manner.
BPM and Associations
In more concrete terms, BPM is about ‘workflow’ and ‘connection’. It is now time to explain how BPM is concerned with these terms. The proper implementation of the two with respect to the BPM methodology delivers orchestration benefits in the form of composite applications.
Workflow systems are designed to facilitate interaction between employees and systems of a business. Once designed properly, they operate efficiently to streamline business activities in an enterprise. BPM proposes a unified view of processes and workflows attached to them. In its process management methodology everything else surrounds “process” and this enhances manageability and eases flexible orchestration. This is a considerable appeal as systems like ERP incorporate several workflow packages to model all sorts of interactions in an enterprise. The shortcoming is that multiple workflow engines make management of workflows more difficult as they evolve. After some time, the design for the past might become a burden for required present workflows and thereby inhibit execution. At the end responsiveness to the business landscape is significantly eliminated.
On the connection side, BPM coordinates the cooperation of separate systems towards a common goal. BPM advocates the use of standards as an essential component of composite systems design for coordinated work. The communication among cooperating systems is enabled by the Internet and XML which helps link different applications by enabling them to speak with the same protocol. In line with that, BPM proposes standards-led SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) as a methodology for achieving increased responsiveness for businesses by transforming them into true “service” businesses. Without SOA, enterprise application integration efforts would result into spaghetti of services where several complex middleware operate in the back end to connect gigantic monolithic applications for a common goal; not to mention the cost and limitations associated.
BPM Suites and Their Offerings
With connection and workflow as main elements of an enterprise scale business cooperation and coordination in the new era, according to different studies and also my own experience, a BPM suite should possess three core tools that are able to:
- Model a business process
- Link elements of the process model to human interfaces, software components, and databases that are used in the runtime execution of the process
- Manage the actual execution of the process by calling human or software components, or by acquiring or storing data as prescribed by the process description
A successful BPM initiative should be built upon the drivers including:
- Lower business costs and increased efficiency
- Increased adaptability and flexibility
- Lower costs of system development and support
- Lower systems implementation risks
- Better governance and compliance and better customer service
The continued evolution of software architectures shows that a new era of architecturing IT systems has arrived. In this era, enterprises which are facing increased sophistication of their business environment need more adaptable solutions that deliver efficiency and value both in an inexpensive way. They understand that the focus of new IT infrastructures that would support the business in the future should transform from integration to orchestration. The solution is BPM systems.