Creating New Ways of Working:
The Evolution of Business Process Management

The discipline that we know today as Business Process Management (BPM) has evolved from the concept of business process re-engineering that emerged in the 1990's and the Six Sigma practices developed initially by Motorola in the 1980's. These founding concepts focus on analyzing and optimizing processes with the goal of using information technology to automate non-value-added manual tasks — and to removing variability and standardizing business processes across an organization.

Value Creation

Most companies invest in information technology systems as a way to speed up existing business processes and automate procedures that are most likely outdated. Replacing labor-intensive and paper-based processes can deliver real benefits to a business. One way to think about incremental process improvement can be formalized using a Theory of Constraints approach to continuous improvement. The idea is to define the goal of your process and to systematically identify and eliminate "bottlenecks" in reaching that goal through a repeating cycle - until the constraint is gone. This approach is most useful for improving frequently-used processes with high impact.

Where the true power to create game-changing processes resides, however, is in the ability to step back, re-think existing processes and create new ways of working. There are hundreds of examples of game-changing business process innovation; Dell didn't invent the PC, they invented a process for consumers to buy direct and customize their purchases; FedEx transports packages, but their tracking systems is what gives customers visibility and confidence; Amazon didn't invent books - or commerce for that matter, but it pioneered the process of buying online. Process innovation may be the most important outcome of the next generation of BPM evolution.

A Focus on Business Goals: The Why of BPM

A key strategy of Business Process Management initiatives is to align processes with business goals. Business processes can be an organization's most valuable value asset and optimizing those processes can maximize business productivity, growth and competitiveness. When an organization has the right BPM technology - and the right perspective - it can develop automated processes that deliver greater returns - and more quickly. A good BPM program can also give companies the transparency and process intelligence to anticipate how process changes will impact performance and competitive strength.

Future BPM Topics

Organization use BPM initiatives to automate day-to-day work activities workflows through the use of BPM software combined with expertise process owner and business analyst expertize. These initiatives can start as a single one-time process improvement exercise that is then built-on incrementally, or it can be conceived as an overarching plan of continuous improvement for every process in an organization.

Business Process Management can also be broken down into its many different components, each with its own best-practices. To name just a few ...

  • Event Triggers The internal or external events that kick-off a business process workflow.
  • Control Flow Diagram A visual representation of the workflow tasks or events and the order in which they must be performed.
  • Process Discovery: Identifying bottlenecks that disrupt the flow of productivity.
  • Process Mining: The analysis of business processes based on event logs.
  • Process Modeling and Design: The identification of existing processes and the design of "to-be" processes.
  • Process Execution: Deploying automated processes as a web-based application delivered to desktops or mobile devices.
  • Process Monitoring and Improvement: Tracking and analyzing process performance (human and technology) and making changes to optimize the process.
  • Exception Handling: Using business rules and automation to remove steps and streamline a process that requires human intervention.
  • Straight-Through Processing: Using business rules and automation to execute a process that does not require human intervention.
  • And many more...