Business activities have always been split along functional lines that divide end to end processes along departmental lines. For instance, sales order to cash collection is a single process that cuts across business administration, sales, finance and credit control functions. It is important to not be constrained by departmental bounds when determining key processes.
As a first step, Business Process Management requires a clear understanding of the processes that would be automated. For those organizations which are contemplating implementation of Process Automation, it would be best to initially take up any transactional process that requires the involvement of many people in a sequential (though not necessarily) fashion with approvals and possible movement of paper from one desk to another.While calculation heavy processes which are single step are not good candidates, interfaces of such processes and add-ons lend themselves greatly to automation.
Once a process is identified, it needs to be documented accurately with a definite beginning and an end. This is an important step and often determines the success of the implementation. While the documentation can be done by any one, it is best that this be done by somebody who is familiar with the process. At this point of time, the organization could also take a decision on whether to automate the process as is or to introduce improvements. (This is a fundamental difference with ERPs wherein changes are forced on to the organization.) The documentation also needs to be structured so as to answer questions that would come up during implementation. A flow chart is best for an easy graphical representation, but various elements and decision points need to be clearly marked out and noted.
Once processes are broken into activities, each activity needs to be taken up in detail, defining the 'role' that will execute the action, the 'items' that need to be captured in the activity, whether the data will be manually entered or electronically picked up.
Processes can trigger sub-processes, other super processes and can initiate/ be initiated by triggers from Enterprise applications. Some activities could be mandatory for the commencement of subsequent activities while some may not and some branches of a process may need to trigger exception reporting.
BPM can also drive validations, control authorizations and be used to log data at a micro level. There could be a mix of human interaction, system validation, Enterprise application interfaces orchestrated by the process builder so that the organization moves in harmony. On the other hand, Process Management tools can also be used to simply pump data from one Enterprise application to another and back.
Benefits of Business Process Management
BPM allows tremendous efficiency gains as the technology does much of the hard work. No longer an invoice be hidden in someone's in-tray and no longer a staff expense claim is lost. There are three key advantages that BPM can bring to the table:
BPM makes a business process absolutely transparent, greatly improving visibility and efficiency. Bottlenecks can literally be seen, and removed. It can show where the most delays are occurring, and where is each transaction stuck as it passes from one stage to another.
2. Process refinement
The initial configuration and design exercise coupled with the data that emerges after running processes for some time can allow refinement.
3. Centralization of Data
Data about each and every transaction is logged and can be retrieved as and when required. Therefore, it is possible to analyze accurately what happened. Referencing is also easier as embedded searches allow for data to be picked up as required for study.
Systems built on BPM are flexible to change. It does not take much effort to make a change in the system
Systems built on BPM are quick to develop and quick to deploy as there is no coding involved.
Flexibility and Agility are particularly useful in developing systems of differentiation and systems of record as defined in “BPM Introduction”