Organizations that want to keep their processes efficient and running smoothly need to practice business process management. Business process management helps you optimize and streamline the processes that matter most to your company, like developing a marketing strategy or handling accounts payable. It gives you a high level, comprehensive view of all your enterprise’s processes so you can integrate them and break down silos.
Ready to get more work done with less effort? Then let’s take a look at what business process management is, why it’s important, and how to start practicing it in your organization with the help of a dedicated platform.
What is business process management?
Business process management (BPM) is an ongoing, holistic practice for improving organizational effectiveness and efficiency by creating processes that add value for your customers, partners, and employees. It’s more than just ad hoc process improvement performed by individual teams or departments; instead, it’s a long-term strategy for building and maintaining processes that work across your entire organization.
A process is a set of tasks required to provide a product, service, or fulfill another business goal. You may use processes to onboard new employees, control your order-to-cash cycle, or provide customer service. BPM requires your organization to take a comprehensive look at all its processes, model them, and then proceed with methodical, continuous improvement.
BPM is an effective practice regardless of organizational size. Onboarding employees requires essentially the same set of tasks for a 100-person company as it does for a 10,000-person company. You don’t need your organization to be “big enough” to benefit from BPM.
What BPM is not
BPM is not a product or technology, although technology can help implement BPM. It is an ongoing practice that requires specific team members dedicated to it. When employees try to improve their own processes, that doesn’t mean your company is practicing BPM. BPM practitioners need a thorough understanding of your organization’s processes from end-to-end, which gives them a unique and powerful perspective on how to optimize those processes.
Why is BPM important?
● More efficient and effective processes. This is the primary goal of BPM. Improving the time to complete processes impacts many aspects of the business. Whether it’s getting a product out the door faster or getting valuable employees in the door faster, BPM facilitates the achievement of business goals and leads to improved organizational performance.
● Improved customer satisfaction and service. Today’s consumer expects to buy and receive the right product with reliable, fast delivery. BPM can improve the business processes that meet and exceed customer expectations.
● Higher employee morale. Automating processes is a key part of BPM that can relieve employees of mundane, repetitive tasks that nobody finds to be rewarding. Forms and process flows can be automated so that minimal input is required from workers. Automating the routing of forms, requests, and approvals can free up employees to do more productive work.
How to get started with BPM
BPM is not a formulaic, one-size-fits-all practice, but there are some general steps involved. You need to model your processes, test them, and then continue to monitor and optimize the processes after introducing them to the organization at large.
Model the process
Business process modeling is drawing out the activities in a process and how they relate to each other, step-by-step. In most cases, you start with an existing process and work to improve it. That leads to two models; the as-is model and the to-be model. You need to identify and assess current as-is business processes. Once you’ve done that, you can plan improved to-be business processes.
Your BPM model should show natural breakpoints to segment and implement steps. The transition of an activity from one department to another is one such breakpoint. For example, if a process passes an activity from HR to payroll, implement and test the HR processes, then the payroll processes, and then the transition from HR to payroll. For each step, you need to optimize, test, and analyze.
Modeling was done by hand in the past. You may have seen this done with sticky notes being moved around on a board. Today, you can use a business management platform like Pipefy to help you do the modeling.
BPM is all about making processes more efficient and effective. This requires you to model the entire process, but you should refrain from implementing changes to all of it at once. Mistakes and setbacks are inevitable when tinkering with processes, so you should try to make limited, discrete improvements to one or just a few processes at a time. This allows you to methodically analyze results and optimize the process one step at a time as opposed to making a drastic overhaul and hoping for the best. For a deeper dive into how processes are planned and built, check out our articles on process design and process reengineering.
Test the process and analyze the results
Run a pilot user acceptance test with a small group of test users. Ideally, they will run both the as-is and to-be processes in parallel. The test should verify that the to-be process meets the requirements of each activity and produces the expected results.
Analyze the results by asking the pilot users about each to-be activity compared to the as-is:
If you have a large user base, you may want to run a second larger pilot test before rolling it out into production. Fixing mistakes and improving the process is much easier in the testing phase than it is in production.
You should perform regression testing as well. If you make changes to process B, test process A and process C to ensure that your changes did not break those processes. Finally, test the flow from process A through process C to ensure proper transitions.
Continually monitor and optimize your processes
No matter how good your process is, you will likely find ways to improve it as business needs and process requirements change, which means that BPM must be an ongoing practice. You cannot just set it and forget it. You must adapt your BPM practices based on the results of monitoring, data from new analyses, and changes in the business environment.
You should also create a feedback loop between your BPM users and the BPM team. Your users are at the front line and are the first to know when a process no longer meets their requirements.
Automating processes using a BPM platform
The best way to optimize a process is to automate as much as possible. Employees perform many tasks each day that are tedious and repetitive. Automation can take care of these mundane tasks so that you can spend more of your time doing rewarding work.
BPM solutions like Pipefy let you automate processes yourself using a simple user interface. For instance, you can automatically trigger an action when an event happens. It works according to an event > action logic: when event X happens, action Y will occur automatically. This allows you to keep processes moving without manual input, and more. BPM platforms also make modeling a much simpler task and provide templates for a wide variety of common processes.
Examples of BPM in action
BPM can make any process more efficient and reliable. Here are a few examples of common processes that greatly benefit from implementing BPM together with a dedicated platform.
Hiring new employees can make or break a business, so you need to make sure that you have a process in place that will identify and attract those candidates that suit your organization best. Using a BPM solution ensures that you’ll always be ahead of the competition when it comes to recruiting top talent. You can visualize all information about the candidates in the BPM platform through a public application form shared online, as well as set rules for automatically disqualifying and notifying candidates who don’t meet the position’s requirements. It also shows the stage of the process each candidate is at, so no one slips through the cracks or is left waiting.
The easiest way to lose a customer is to leave them feeling confused and unhelped. That’s why customer onboarding is so important. Codifying and optimizing the process with a BPM platform is a great way to keep onboarding responsive and quick. You can use the platform to assign a customer success manager, confirm if the sales contract is valid, and request a briefing on the new customer from the sales team. It can then automatically send the new customer an email prompting them to schedule an onboarding meeting with their customer success manager.
Ensuring that the information the manager gets from the customer is accurately recorded in a timely fashion is critical. A BPM platform can prompt the customer success manager to summarize the information from their meeting with the new customer, such as:
To complete the customer onboarding process, reminders can be set for regular check-ins with the customer until the goals of the process have been achieved.
You need your organization’s purchasing process to deliver what your team needs affordably and reliably. This makes it another high priority process perfect for optimizing with a dedicated BPM platform. You can define each step of the process, from the initial screening of purchase requests to verifying delivery using a detailed checklist. Centralizing all the data related to the purchase in one place, including quotes from different suppliers, the estimated delivery date, and the supplier’s information and preferred payment method is invaluable as well. You can even use the platform to automatically archive information on all suspended or denied purchasing requests for future reference.
Using BPM in your organization
BPM is an organization-wide strategy that can be difficult to implement, but a top BPM platform like Pipefy can help. Pipefy’s robust modeling, automation, and integration features make standardizing and optimizing your processes hassle-free. By keeping you updated on users’ activities and deadlines, Pipefy keeps teams accountable. It also lets you visualize processes, so you can spot any bottlenecks or errors before they cause a crisis.
BPM is an effective practice regardless of organizational size. Onboarding employees requires essentially the same set of tasks for a 100-person company as it does for a 10,000 company.