By Hunting, Charles
Journal of Banking and Financial Services , Vol. 119, No. 2
What is BPM?
Business process management (BPM) is a state in which processes and business rules are automated and integrated to create a business environment that is accountable, compliant, efficient, agile, flexible and transparent. In addition, these outcomes are delivered within the context of continuous improvement. BPM has long been a subject of discussion for businesses seeking to achieve improved enterprise management through methodologies empowered by technology.
After years of appearing in corporate strategy documents, and disappearing in subsequent implementations, BPM is rapidly becoming a key element of corporate strategy due to changes in legislation as well as technical maturity.
The definition and scope of a BPM solution recognises that although pre-packaged technology is an important enabler, it is only one piece of the BPM story, which is acutely dependent on procedural, cultural, governmental and technical composition and integration. Successful implementation can only follow a comprehensive exercise in strategic planning that requires an enterprise view, break-through systems integration and provable domain knowledge.
What is driving the growth of BPM?
The BPM value proposition is simple. There is a convergence of factors in today's market that brings BPM from a distant point on the horizon to a set of real, current needs requiring real, current solutions.
These factors include:
* Compliance: Evolving legislative mandates such as Sarbanes-Oxley will require ongoing increases in the levels of accountability, transparency and control.
* Value: Shareholders are now more sceptical about investments in the post-Enron era. Shareholders see real value in organisations that are agile, controlled, transparent and accurate.
* Technology: Technology has evolved to the point where the applications, infrastructure and delivery mechanisms are sophisticated enough to successfully address the requirements of a BPM environment.
* Approach: The roadmap for implementation, consisting of many projects, will most likely span several years. However, it is important to note that although a BPM environment is integrated, it can be achieved incrementally--addressing higher pain points first and then incorporating other areas as time and resources allow.
The term business process management tends to undersell both the solution and the significance of the opportunity. Too often, especially in the past, BPM, workflow and process automation describe the automation of existing processes and document digitisation to capture opportunities constrained to simple process and storage efficiency outcomes. In these instances BPM is constrained within individual business units to address and achieve one-off cost savings, outsourcing and offshoring opportunities. It can and should be so much more.
Many companies talk about business agility and the adaptive enterprise. Agile architectures and solutions allow businesses to rapidly adapt to changing business requirements and new technologies.
BPM enables an agile state. As processes and business logic are no longer represented in classic programming languages, BPM allows their management and optimisation to be controlled by business managers. This significantly speeds the optimisation process. It means that organisations can respond more rapidly to new business opportunities and changing environments. BPM can facilitate the collaboration required between business and technology to manage these changes quickly.
BPM also enables greater collaboration between businesses and between business units to facilitate more fundamental changes such as business model re-design and true business process re-engineering. However, BPM must be expertly designed and integrated to achieve these outcomes--to achieve an agile business is not as simple as buying and implementing a BPM tool. …