Business Process Management

Business processes are the backbone of a business:

Processes are how strategies are operationalised and goals are achieved

They guide your people as to how to get things done

Policy is embedded in business rules the processes use

Roles are defined to support process activities

Processes are implemented in systems that manage process flow

Systems report against measures and objectives

Processes provide relationship interfaces

Business processes are how the organisation gets things done.

Business Process Programs and Projects

A BPM program covers process redesign and implementation, including computerisation, and is about innovation and strategic alignment.

The program owner, who needs to be a senior executive, assembles a program team of stakeholder business representatives and a BPM consultant. There may also be IT and other functional team members.

The BPM program team undertakes the Business Assessment, Process Architecture, Project Selection phases and oversees the process projects and Technical Platform Selection, which are set up as separate projects.

BPM Program Phases

→ Business Assessment

An assessment identifies systemic business issues, problems and opportunities in the organisation and its value chain. Customers and suppliers as well as internal stakeholders are consulted, and documentation is reviewed. This reveals current weaknesses in the organisation’s business processes and enables the team to gain a rapid system view of how the business works in practice.

→ Process Architecture

A high-level process architecture is designed which encompasses all activities within the organisation and their inter-relationships. This is reviewed with stakeholders. The architecture enables a clear view, firstly, of all the processes in the organisation, and there are often many more than people realise, and secondly of how 'the pain' in the organisation is caused by the lack of definition or effectiveness of processes. Each high-level process, or 'key business process', is analysed to a sub-process level to enable individual process projects to be scoped.

→ Selection of Process Projects

Based on the Assessment and Architecture, business process candidates are selected and prioritised on the basis of business benefit from redesign. Projects are launched for each process, so that several projects can run in parallel within the overall BPM program, although the projects are staggered to enable efficient use of scarce resources. For each project a project scoping document is written and approved, and project teams are selected, with each project leader being a business person.

→ Process Design

Most business processes are developed by aggregation of incremental changes over time. Often a process is not identified as a process as such, merely as a succession of tasks triggered by a particular event. Because of this, time creates mismatches between recent and older parts of the process. Process Design introduces a new synchronicity as well as smarter ways of achieving the desired outcome. The design process is iterated several times to achieve the optimum design. Various tools are used during design to ensure innovation because there is always a danger of merely automating the current process. If this is not prevented the business benefits are not achieved. The final step in the process design is to develop business requirements at a level of detail and in formats agreed with IT. During this step business rules are developed which often requires business policy to be clarified in detail as prespecified decisions for implementation in the workflow software.

→ Technical Platform Selection

The technical solution for automating processes should be as modular and reusable as possible. Individually coded processes are subject to ongoing IT maintenance costs that are avoidable. Often a BPM or Workflow Management package is the best way to avoid high IT maintenance costs. Selection of the BPM package, or alternative technical solution, should be driven by business requirements and selection criteria listed by the BPM team and endorsed by the program owner and/or stakeholder group.

→ Planning

Changes which are to be undertaken to implement each new Business Process are identified and a detailed implementation and change management plan is developed.

→ Implementation

Implementation of the process, and associated computer system, requires tight project and change management to ensure take-up is achieved successfully, and the business benefits are realised.

→ Project Close-down

Once the new process is installed a pre-selected Process Manager takes over and the project team, or a subset, move to a support role until the process is running smoothly. At this point the project is closed down. New process version projects may be initiated by the Process Manager to implement process improvements.

→ Post-implementation Review

Once the process has been in place for a while, typically about 3 months, the program and project teams and stakeholders all meet to eview the project, the new process and to document lessons learned for use by later projects.

BPM is complex! Please contact us if you wish to discuss a BPM program and/or process projects for your organisation, or refer to our sister site