At its most fundamental level, process excellence is about improving the way that businesses create and deliver value to their customers. According to the Process Excellence (PEX) Network, approaches to process improvement like Lean and Six Sigma give companies proven tools and techniques to solve business problems in a structured and effective way, while Business Process Management (BPM) looks at how aligning people, process and technology and automating key tasks can take business performance to the next level. Let’s take a look at Lean Six Sigma and BPM a little more closely, and find out what happens when you combine them.
What is Business Process Management?
BPM strategies seek to implement process automation initiatives driven by human processes to improve operations throughout an entire organization. In other words, BPM is a management approach that looks at an enterprise holistically as a set of business processes. Focusing on the operations themselves, BPM uses a four step method to create better process management to improve performance:
- Design: encompasses both the identification of existing processes and the design of “to-be” processes.
- Model: taking a theoretical business process design and analyzing or improving it. You are able to see how the processes might operate under different circumstances, and you’re likely to find that they don’t remain the same in different circumstances
- Execute: two primary options: to implement manually in your daily business activities or to automate. We suggest considering automation using BPM software. This takes you straight into the fourth stage of the BPM lifecycle: monitoring.
- Monitor: this stage monitors activities and progress as you go on – making execution and monitoring go hand-in-hand as they’re both dependent on each other. Because once the process model is being executed, certain metrics have to be monitored to ensure the exercise is effective.
- Optimize: collate all performance information across all stages of the BPM lifecycle. This involves putting together data on what worked and what didn’t work, from the design to the model to monitoring. The big picture here is to ensure that mistakes are avoided and successes are repeated so as to minimize cost and maximize efficiency.
BPM has a strong position in software applications marketplace that help businesses streamline and automate many processes by enabling them to design, analyze, execute, monitor and optimize. BPM software also acts as a valuable automation tool for enterprises to generate a competitive advantage through cost reduction, process excellence, and continuous process improvement.
What is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma is another methodology that seeks to improve process and business performance. Unlike BPM, Lean Six Sigma does so by tracking/decreasing process variability and defects within those processes. As a combination of two powerful process improvement methods: Lean and Six Sigma, this practice has the ability to remove any waste or redundancy from a process. Unlike BPM, Lean Six Sigma approaches business processes from an analytical point of view and aims at improving an organization’s overall customer satisfaction.
Achieving Process Excellence with Both
Six Sigma may be used to improve processes, before BPM looks to automate and manage them. Combine the two, and you have one giant powerhouse helping achieve process excellence. The strengths of both practices compliment each other and can create a harmony that instills your entire business with a focus on operation quality and performance. The strengths of BPM sit in its software abilities to automate processes and workflow through modeling and evaluation of inputs/outputs and performance. Although it lacks in the ability to analyze data associated with complex issues, Lean Six Sigma fills it by providing the statistical analysis needed. The two methodologies have been considered by times to be mutually exclusive, however, some companies have discovered that combining BPM and Lean Six Sigma can create extremely successful results.
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