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Business Process Management

3 November 2008 No Comment by ghaznavi

BPM refers to activities performed by businesses to optimize and adapt their processes. Business Process Re-engineering (popular in the 1990s) dealt with one-off changes to the organization, where as BPM deals with the continuity and embedding of process orientation in the organization. Business Process Management has evolved as technology and has caught up with management processes to the point that technology should no longer be a limiting factor in BPM.



Why the time is right for BPM?

BPM has evolved over the past ten years from a number of other technology pre-cursers, including workflow, integration and process automation. Through this evolution process, BPM has amassed a number of best practices that help enable companies to use a “new” technology that has been road-tested in the past. It’s mature enough for enterprise deployment and important enough that most organizations should be evaluating BPM solutions.

Business Process Management System (BPMS)

BPMS is a software tool that allows for the direct execution of the business processes without a costly and time-intensive development of the required software. In addition, these tools can also monitor the execution of the business processes, providing managers of an organization with the means to analyze their performance and make changes to the original processes in real time. Using a BPMS the modified process can then be merged into the current business process atmosphere. BPMS has:

  • Standardize processes - How should a process should be carried out
  • Facilitate collaboration and compliance
  • Process automation around decision making
  • Workflow definition and management
  • Activity monitoring and exception alerts
  • Process reports

Agility as a Key Benefit in BPM:

Agility in business is the ability of a firm to sense and respond to business opportunities in order to stay innovative and competitive in a quickly changing business environment. An agile firm has the capabilities and processes to respond to unexpected environmental changes. When we think about how a business might respond to changes, we can define two kind of response

•(a) Process Agility

Some kinds of changes require change to a process in response. For instance, if a particular locality introduces regulations into a previously unregulated process, a compliance step might need to be added. If a new call center is opened to handle a particular class of customers, then a new branch and new steps will need to be added to the process to handle customer interactions.

•(b) Decision Agility

Decision agility is needed when change is required within a process but the process itself does not change. For instance, if a change is made to the rules for determining price discount eligibility, the process will not change at all - at the same point in the process, the discount will be determined and applied. Yet the decision as to what discount to offer will change. Being able to quickly change decisions within a process is key to decision agility.

Is BPM for Business or IT?

Good BPM solution requires two great parts to work together as one. To help make BPM succeed, the most important element is to understand that it is a collaboration of business and IT and thus both parties need to be involved in evaluating, selecting and implementing a BPM solution.

Business Criteria for BPM Selection

  1. Fast Response to Changing Business Needs

One of the greates concerns for business leaders about technology solving business problem is the “set-in-stone” scenario. A new application takes months to develop and then it is released to the business for user. Unfortunately, since the whiteboard discussions six months earlier, the business processes have often changed. Changing the application, however, may take another two months, leaving the business leader with outdated application and impacting company’s ROI. Businesses need to design flexible processes that can be changed later without being “hard wired” into the code structure of the application.

While evaluating BPM solutions, look for the capability that business owner must have the ability to adjust and optimize the process parameters in real-time. Such capabilities typically include graphical interfaces, drag-and-drop process creation and no-code process building.

  1. Active Process Monitoring and Management

A good BPM solution will provide business managers and process owners with the power to close the loop between monitoring and managing the process. If a process fails to meet the established goals or the goals change, business managers are able to make change to the process and immediately impact business. Look for the capability for real-time activity monitoring and end-to-end business view of process performance

Technology Criteria for BPM Selection

  1. No or Limited Code Development

The more code required to implement or change a BPM solution, the less flexible is the BPM solution over the long term. By definition, the optimum BPM solution is the one that allows changes to be made easily, often, and in real-time.

  1. Enterprise Capable Technology

BPM solution should support standards-based architecture (e.g. J2EE, .Net, SOAP, SQL etc), all major application and web servers, databases and operating systems. The best BPM solution will have an open framework that easily connects to existing IT infrastructure. It is important to consider a BPM solution that is able to scale across the enterprise to support high-volume transactional processes that are core to the business. Another factor is that a BPM solution allows reusing process components. It should enable standard, enterprise-scale insurances such as redundancies, failover etc.

  1. Speed to Market

While many business users are concerned with the ability to quickly modify a process to reflect change in business direction or practices, one of the IT’s most critical speed factors is being equipped with right tools to bring a solution to production as quickly as possible. BPM product that feature a consistent design environment across modeling, development, deployment and management make it much easier for users to ensure all system interactions, business rules, workflow and monitoring process are working together. In addition to offering highly graphical, intuitive development environments and supporting industry stands for development languages, BPM solutions should have strong connector technology to help enable integration with variety of external systems and applications.

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