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Business Process Management is central to digital transformation

Business Process Management fits neatly with digital transformation strategies for businesses due to its technology-driven approach.

Image: © AFP
Image: © AFP

Business Process Management fits neatly with digital transformation strategies for businesses due to its technology-driven approach, and this is being made easier through a range of new software packages. The methodology helps synchronise key components of digital transformation like automation, IoT and big data analytics. To be effective, however, the strategic approach needs to mesh people, processes and technology, giving equal weighting to each.

One reason for digital adoption by many businesses is the need for increased speed and greater agility — allowing for better response to changing market situations or customer expectations. Traditional management models can provide some tools to assist with this, but few are aligned to the digital transformation process.

According to analyst Charles Araujo, writing on the website CIO, Business Process Management is an approach that meshes well with larger with digital transformation strategies. This is because unlike the cumbersome, legacy-driven approach to Business Process Management, which was largely document driven (primarily in the form of paper records), an array of new software is available to make the wholescale optimization of a business easier.

What is Business Process Management?

BPM falls within the scope of operations management. It refers to any sequence of events or tasks that must be performed for a business to operate. The discipline deploys different methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, optimize and automate business processes. The fact that there are different models to select from means that, while there is a common goal of business efficiency, there is no accepted approach as to how this can be achieved.

Unlike other quality management tools BPM is not suitable for making incremental improvements to a process or department al output, it is instead focused on improving overall corporate performance.

The key concerns of the BPM approach include assets management; asset development; delivery of value-added products or suitable services to clients or customers.

File photo: Office workers viewing a presentation at BPL Elstree.

File photo: Office workers viewing a presentation at BPL Elstree.

BPM and technology

Unlike other business tools that fall within the field of Total Quality Management, BPM is an approach that is suited to the use of technology. A common focus of BPM is with people and technology.

An area where technology is used to support the BPM approach is the analysis of real-time information. For BPM to work, these data need can be responded to. This can be facilitated by tools like real-time dashboards. With this there are often pre-defined filters allowing for exception management so that executives only respond to critical events.

BPM and digital transformation

There are five core ways through which BPM fits with the digital transformation journey that many businesses are undertaking. The first is through the use of process engines. These are software tools designed to allow for modeling and running technological applications that follow including business rules. The second area is with making effective use of business analytics. Here software can be used to enable managers to identify business issues, trends, and opportunities through smart reports.

Data leaks are growing  but companies are being overwhelmed

Data leaks are growing, but companies are being overwhelmed
Pixabay / Pexels

The third area is with content management, which covers an array of sophisticated platforms that can allow for the storing and securing electronic documents and images. The fourth area is the use of collaboration tools, to improve intra- and interdepartmental communication by fostering discussion forums, dynamic workspaces, and message boards. When used effectively these tools can help to uncover the seeds of the next key innovation.

The fifth area is the agile organization, responding to market shifts. Here advances in automation are allowing business to adapt better across a number of business units.

Software solutions for BPM

There are several competing solutions for BPM and the competitive space has been opened up through developments in cloud computing (which enhances collaboration between departments and different business units) and the emerging Internet of things, which will allow for greater flow of information through a larger numbers of devices and hence more big data analysis. These platforms and forms of connectivity are in keeping with digital transformation strategies.

Software solutions include Promapp, which is focused on process improvement. A strong selling point is the use of interactive graphics designed to engage users. A second example is Wrike, which is designed to help business to streamline their processes and apply custom workflows to specific teams, folders, and projects for better cross-team collaboration. A third package is LogicGate which uses drag-and-drop functionality to link people, process, and data.

When BPM goes wrong, and when it goes right

The BPM approach is not suitable for all businesses. Successes tend to be with larger corporations rather than smaller concerns (where the level of disruption and necessary investment may not be suitable). BPM can also stall, especially where silos exist within corporations, such as between the Information Technology department and Finance. This can arise when there are disputes as to which function is taking the lead.

Another reason by BPM goes wrong is because people and processes play second place to the technology. All three elements need to be functioning together for an effective solution to be developed. When this works, process improvements can emerge. Improvements include better control and transparency of business finances; improve customer services; and optimized workflows. Each of this takes advantage of digital technology.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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