Business management has never been an easy task. Modern advances enable previously unheard of levels of operational optimization and data insight.
The tools available to today’s business owners are almost limitless, which can be both a boon and a bane. There are tools available to manage every aspect of a business from inventory to customer service and taxes. Each piece of software that is added to a company’s technology stack helps to bear the burden of management and also increases the complexity of the organization as a whole.
Progress and complexity often go hand in hand. This is especially true for technological progress. The good news is that while systems are becoming more complex, they are also becoming more efficient and accurate. This does not stop difficulty from creating obstacles.
One of the most cumbersome obstacles when working in a complex system is the analysis of its optimization. Each moving part plays a role that can be difficult to appreciate, and the parts themselves may have unnecessary bloat in them. This is where business process management (BPM) can be introduced to help organizations make the most of their resources.
What is BPM?
BPM includes an analysis of each process as well as an analysis of the role it plays in the overall business picture. BPM is all about fine-tuning processes to squeeze out every possible drop of optimization. It can be as simple as removing an extra step in the process or rebuilding the entire process from scratch.
Before diving into business process management, it is important to first define what a process is in this context.
What is a business process?
A business process can be described as a series of iterative steps designed to achieve a goal. Repetition is a key aspect of business processes. They should be performed regularly and more or less the same every time.
Processes are not the same as projects or tasks. Projects are individual instances of a particular work. When executing a project, the goal is to achieve a single, one-time outcome. Tasks, on the other hand, are individual tasks or parts of a project that must be completed in order for the project to be considered complete.
Processes are tasks that are performed on a regular basis, such as onboarding new employees, handling customer complaints, or sales.
How does BPM work?
Business process management, as a discipline, attempts to treat each process performed by an organization as a separate, isolated job, while viewing them as part of a larger organizational puzzle.
Using BPM methods and tools requires the ability to look at the business in micro and macro scales in tandem. Each process should be optimized within itself, but the impact it has on other processes or activities should also be considered.
BPM is a continuous cycle that includes four main stages: analysis, design, modeling and implementation.
Each business process is analyzed for its efficiency and optimization. The purpose of this phase is to monitor operations and identify opportunities for improvement. Analysis involves going through each process to see what works and what doesn’t. The analysis phase is an ongoing process.
After identifying opportunities for improvement, BPM professionals begin to develop ideas on how best to solve a problem or optimize a process. This is the time to create goals. The processes should be designed as an ideal version of themselves at this stage.
Modeling techniques may vary depending on the process being refined, but prototyping or running test cases is always a great way to see how proposed changes will affect operations. This step is necessary to refine design ideas and combine concepts into actionable changes.
Bringing it to life
Once the simulation confirms that the proposed changes have a positive impact on the process and business as a whole, it is time to make changes and bring all the pieces together. Implementing new processes or modified processes can be a daunting task, but if the previous steps have been successful, then you know the effort is worth the end result.