Business Process Management is not about the software you use but about having managed processes enhance your competitive advantage. Does that improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, improve the customer experience, ensuring compliance or innovation drive, then after successfully process all contribute to the enhancement of competitive advantage and differentiation in the market.
All of the above can possible be achieved without any software, but the demands of the Real Time Enterprise (RTE) requires consistent, repeatable and timely execution of business processes. This requires some form of automation, integration, collaboration and monitoring to deliver on the promise of RTE. Software based process management solutions has been around for a long time and products like ERP solutions have succeeded to some level in connecting information systems from various functional silos into one business repository. The challenge with ERP solutions is the rigidity based on some form of “best practice” and in doesn’t allow businesses to structure the solution to the unique processing requirements of the organization. Any changes to ERP solutions required bespoke development and business requirements sometimes changed faster than what the bespoke developers could attend to.
Abstracting business processes from underlying business applications became more important in agile, real time enterprises. The process rules and the way the business works needed to be separated from the transactional business applications like the ERP, CRM, DMS etc. This can be achieved by creating policies and procedures and also by creating automated processes with BPM.
Work flow vs BPM
BPM is about managing a business problem where work flow is a technology. BPM use workflow as one of its dimensions to manage business processes. The thought of dimensions led me to think of some of the other dimensions of BPM. It also reminded me of the cube as the icon for BPM with its six sides. The six sides of the BPM cube.
o BPM has a human work flow (WF) dimension;
o BPM has a rules engine (RE) dimension;
o BPM has an enterprise application integration (EAI) dimension;
o BPM has a service oriented architecture (SOA) dimension;
o BPM has a content management (CM) dimension; and
o BPM has a business intelligence (BI) dimension.
So if BPM has all these dimensions one can argue that a BPM Suite (BPMS) should allow for the configuration of all of the dimensions from one interface or product suite. A BPMS provides the ability to create Composite Process Solutions (CPS) with all of these elements from a single toolset. A typical CPS may be a complex Order Management Cycle (OMC) solution with complex business rules, human intervention, various documents and data integrated to the CRM and ERP solutions in the business. The OMC solution needs to provide operational feedback and notifications to line managers as well as the ability to analyze completed processes and identify and opportunities to improve the processes by reducing bottlenecks and redundancy.
A simplified model of the cube would be to integrate RE with WF as well as EAI and CM with SOA. This leaves three dimensions for BPM:
o Rules-based human-centric work flow and process automation [Automate] A o SOA based EAI and CM [Integrate] I o BI based Performance Management [Manage] M
Are you Aiming your processes in you organization? This should be more important than debating work flow vs. BPM.