Business Process Management 101

Business Process Management 101

We all know business processes are the key to the way most companies operate. This is because they are the blueprints that are followed in order to achieve all kinds of business functions, and they enable the different parts of the organization to work in unison to interact with supplier and customers. Business Process Management (BPM) is the practice of aligning business goals and processes as companies and organizations evolve.  

Because business are so dynamic, their goals and processes are continually evolving. For this reason, business process management should be thought of as a continuous practice rather than a one-off event.

Paul Rubens, technology journalist, argues that many companies develop business processes in isolation from other processes they interact with, or worse, they don’t develop them at all. In many cases, processes simply come into existence as they way “things have always been done,” or because software systems dictate them. This results in many frustrated companies because their processes are hindered, and until those processes are optimized, the issue will continue. This is where a BPM solution comes in handy.

Business Process Management Software Suites

BPM software or BPM suites (BPMS) help organizations define the steps required to carry out a business task, mapping these definitions to existing processes, and then streamlining or improving these processes so that the steps taken to complete them are more efficient.

The focus of BPM in the past was to achieve cost savings, add efficiencies and increase business value, however, in the last year or so that’s changed. According to Rob Koplowitz, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, “BPM priorities have overwhelmingly shifted to customers,” he says in the report BPM Platforms for Digital Automation. “Organizations considering BPM initiatives are doing so to serve customers, not cut costs. Increasingly, BPM and process change are focusing on facilitating cross-channel collaboration among employees, customers, partners, and ‘things,'” he says.

The BPM software market is broad, with many big players involved like IBM, Oracle, SAP and Software AG. Forrester Research groups the BPM market participants into three categories:

  1. Enterprise stack providers
  2. Application platform vendors
  3. Specialist for specific market niches

What’s Changed?

According to Rubens, many BPM vendors are now investing in technologies that allow for the rapid development and deployment of customer-facing applications. The two most important technologies to achieve this are low-code development tools, often used by developers or BPM professionals who are not exactly software developers. User interface technologies make it more simple for customers, rather than trained employees, to interact in multiple ways with internal software systems.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another capability BPM vendors are beginning to invest in. AI elements present themselves in new interfaces such as voice and chat, cognitive expertise sources to support processes, and machine learning to drive optimization.

Lastly, there has been a move towards the use of analytics and other techniques to provide real-time insights to improve business processes. Ruben reports this has become so important that Gartner has switched from talking about business process management suites to “intelligent business process management” suites, or iBPMS as the company calls them.


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Elizabeth Quirk

Elizabeth Quirk

Liz is an enterprise technology writer covering Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Business Process Management (BPM) and Talent Management Suites (TMS) at Solutions Review. She attended Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where she attained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism. You can reach her at equirk@solutionsreview.com
Elizabeth Quirk

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