The set of ideas, tools, and techniques that deal with business processes, known in short as Business Process Management (BPM), has been around for a couple of decades. Even though forward-thinking professionals in business and IT recognize the importance of BPM, it does not get the mainstream attention it deserves.
Large-scale ERP and client/server implementations absorb the attention of IT departments and distract the innovators. The underestimation of the importance of integration in connecting end-to-end business processes, coupled with proprietary application architectures, continues to make it difficult to realize the promise of BPM.
In the last couple of years, there has been an increasing recognition of the role played by integration, enterprise service-oriented architecture, and mature process management platform in creating agile business processes that confer competitive advantages.
Companies are realizing that functional excellence and product commoditization are not sufficient to ensure customer centricity and innovation. Visionary executives consider the set of integrated capabilities that deal with the full lifecycle of business processes as the key to an accelerated evolution towards process maturity.
Two of the major roadblocks to adopting and implementing BPM are the lack of understanding of Business Process Management Software, and not knowing how to get started. Understanding and implementing need not be sequential activities. It is critical to get started with BPM, since adoption and implementation will continuously enhance understanding.
Most important, companies that make a beginning will realize that BPM’s expense and risk are several orders of magnitude lower than traditional IT development. There are different entry points for BPM, ways of ramping up process initiatives, organizational and cultural challenges that BPM practitioners face, and the critical success factors for BPM.
In order to support both process improvement and operational management, it is essential that the various capabilities of BPM form a set of cohesive tools for modeling, analysis, workflow design, user-interface design, governance, and metadata. A BPM platform that has a strong integration infrastructure moves processes from design to automation with minimum code and manages their run-time infrastructure. This facilitates rapid implementation of process improvement projects.
Business processes originate with the customer, traverse various functional departments of the company, and flow back to the customer. In this journey, the processes rely on both systems and people for handling business transactions. To the extent these processes are successful in their goal of delivering value to the customer, they are essentially customer-centric value chains. BPM therefore deals with both process improvement and operational excellence. It plays a role in the various phases of project lifecycles (such as requirements gathering, modeling, analysis, design, improvement, development, and deployment), as well as in the post-project phases of processes (such as control, monitoring, maintenance, and management of business processes).
A true BPM platform handles not only the components of business engineering such as modeling and analysis, but also the components of software engineering such as integration, connectivity to existing IT infrastructure through adapters, and enterprise-class middleware management. Human-centric workflows that seamlessly integrate with system-centric processes must support the role played by people in business processes.
BPM platform that has a strong integration infrastructure moves processes from design to automation with minimum code and manages their run-time infrastructure. This facilitates rapid implementation of process improvement projects.
Business process modeling