Enterprises rely on business process management to better understand how they operate, remain competitive and gain an edge in the marketplace. BPM initiatives typically require considerable investments in technology deployments and cultural changes. But the payoff likewise can be considerable.
Companies implementing business process automation technologies can achieve several benefits and advantages. Embracing business process mapping, a successful BPM strategy lowers costs, eliminates waste, smooths operations, connects the dots between processes, increases business agility and upgrades customer service. It can also improve process controls and make implementation of new programs and technologies easier.
Business process management benefits
1. Streamlined workflows and greater efficiency
Improvements in work quality and operating efficiency are primary reasons to adopt BPM. "BPM allows organizations to streamline workflows by automating tedious manual tasks, such as data management, data flows, data entry, approval processes and report generation," said Isaac Gould, research manager at Nucleus Research.
BPM standardizes processes so employees can work more effectively within a set framework that speeds decision-making and reduces the risk of human error. BPM tools also embed analytics that provide managers a bird's-eye view of how their department and individual processes are performing -- for example, tracking employee performance and identifying bottlenecks in workflows.
This combination of automated workflows, standardized processes and process monitoring increase productivity, as well as the quality and quantity of worker output. Team members have more time to identify further opportunities for process improvement and automation, while managing tasks that require human intervention, experience and expertise.
2. Tighter, strategically aligned process controls
Business processes tend to grow organically and haphazardly when left to the whims of different managers. As each process takes shape, business managers and project management teams must address new requirements spanning tax jurisdiction, regulatory mandates, contractual obligations and security. In addition, they need to shoehorn these requirements into the data formats and fields that are woven into ERP, CRM and human capital management systems.
BPM takes a more systematic approach to understanding the origins of each process and how it can be streamlined to support the same requirements but with fewer steps, less data and less manual effort. "With more clearly defined and precise processes in place across the board, businesses are given tighter control over all value-added internal and external activities," explained Monty Staggs, virtual CIO and director of digital transformation at IT consultancy Synoptek. This visibility creates an opportunity to implement technologies and ensures all business models are strategically aligned to the marketplace.
3. Greater business agility and scalability
Increased understanding and control of processes provide greater flexibility when pivoting to new opportunities, Staggs noted. Quick and nimble organizations are increasingly gaining an advantage over slower-moving legacy businesses. BPM creates an architectural avenue to new cloud services, AI capabilities, regulatory changes and market opportunities.
"The companies that can deliver value-added service through the most flexible and expedited methods," Staggs reasoned, "are the ones that will excel and grow -- the ones that don't [will] stagnate or will eventually die off."
4. Better customer service and experiences
Business process management benefits customer experiences in several ways, said Dana Daher, senior research analyst in the CIO practice at Info-Tech Research Group. BPM can help businesses do the following:
- analyze existing processes to identify areas where customer service reps waste time submitting redundant information into a system;
- automatically collect and sort required customer information from multiple sources and eliminate redundancy;
- discover better ways to help customers see how far along they are in a complex process and what additional steps are required; and
- improve the development, manufacture and quality of the final product delivered to customers.
5. Connected silos and more focused communications
Business process management software can help connect siloed systems and processes by simplifying the technical work and improving communication. BPM's real-time visualization capabilities connect people, processes, information systems, software, SaaS platforms and machines, observed Valentina Botnari, product owner of Bonita Runtime at Bonitasoft, an open source BPM platform. BPM can transform graphical models into executable commands to automate IT integration of business process automation.
Botnari said her team uses a BPM-based process application to manage a twice-yearly software release by monitoring progress and identifying disruptions in the process. When blocking issues are discovered, the BPM software limits communication to the key decision-makers and specifies ways to resolve the bottlenecks. "Narrowing communication to just the key people at that step," Botnari explained, "means not wasting everyone else's time in general coordination meetings or with massive email and other communication chains."
6. Reduced risk, waste, redundancy and money pits
BPM helps business managers and teams assess the current state of their business processes and identify areas to consolidate and optimize them, said Dan Shimmerman, CEO of business process design and management platform provider Blueprint Software Systems. The goal is to eliminate waste, redundancy, error-prone sequences, compliance risks and automation deployments that are losing money.
According to Shimmerman, one of his customers discovered that an automated process was costing $1 million annually to maintain but delivering only $300,000 in business value. Part of the automation was retired in favor of manual execution, saving the company $700,000 a year.