Archive for June, 2011

What is BPM?

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?  Is it something as simple as drawing a Visio diagram of a revenue producing process?  Is it creating a word document that describes how back end systems work?  Does it have to be complex?

You can look it up on Wikipedia, but in reality, the concepts around BPM are very simple.  Every business has processes.  Some of these processes have direct costs (like recruiting and hiring), while some are revenue generating (like order to cash).  Some of these processes may have indirect costs, like people costs.  BPM is the study, analysis, and optimization of these processes.  In today’s world of limited budgets and a focus on increased employee productivity, BPM is critical for all companies to consider implementing.

Does BPM need to be complex?  No.  Most companies today have processes documented in some form, whether it’s in training manuals or Visio diagrams.  Collecting these documents and organizing them is the first step on the BPM journey.  Contrary to what many companies will tell you (including my employer, IBM), you don’t need to spend tons of money to get started.  Does software help?  Certainly.

Now, I have worked with clients who take BPM to an extreme, utilizing powerful software to model and perform analysis on business processes.  They will draw out a business process in a tool similar to Visio, then walk around with a stopwatch to see how long each step in the process takes.  With a maniacal focus on metadata accuracy, they can see where process bottlenecks are, and eliminate them.

There is a middle ground, and there’s a lot of help out there.  BPM software will not only help you model your process (ie, draw it out), but also let you execute it in a runtime engine.  Sometimes you can also have human interaction (think of this like a queue, people claim work and complete it through a browser).

The bottom line is that while BPM can be complex, the concepts are simple and everyone can get started today.

Categories: BPM