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From business processes to business success
Rapid technological innovation and the growth of the Internet fuelled the first wave of business process management (BPM) in the corporate world of the 1990s.
Today, a new wave of technology-driven innovation is again placing the spotlight on how businesses define, map and re-engineer corporate processes. The experience of the past, combined with more powerful, easier to use tools of the present, is driving a BPM renaissance of sorts. The goal is simple. Optimise business processes to achieve the productivity, efficiency and profitability needed to survive and remain competitive in the modern business environment.
The business case for BPM
The need to align business processes to evolving corporate vision and business strategy is critical in any organisation. Ever shifting dynamics in the external economic environment require organisations to be clear and precision about what they do and how it gets done.
However, you first have to know what you have (aka, business process mapping) before you can begin any exercise to make it better (aka, business process reengineering).
This is evident when, for example, new, Internet-connected systems have to be integrated with backend legacy systems and databases.
Such integration may require substantial reengineering that goes beyond technology to how people are tasked, managed and incentivised. Organisations can actually create new business process design options, rather than simply supporting existing ones.
The value of this opportunity to companies is fuelling a global market for BPM tools and services and creating new opportunities. A ResearchMoz.us study estimates that the global BPM market will reach US$7 billion by 2018. The business case is clear. Process mapping helps organisations define workflows, clarify roles, orient staff, analyse activity, identify operational as well as compliance gaps, optimise resource allocations and identify best practices.
In short, business sustainability and innovation depends on continuous process optimisation.
Power to the process people
Dedicated BPM software has always been a strategic asset in designing and implementing automated business process. Today, more intuitive BPM software applications are emerging that take process mapping to the next level. New, easier to use, design and mapping tools are empowering workers across the organisations chart.
Such tools give companies the ability to sift BMP responsibilities out of bottle-necked IT departments and into to the business units that need it most.
This profound shift has democratised BPM—design, as well as re-engineering—and now allows organisations to better implement the applications and services that make automated process more responsive to the needs of staff, management, customers, suppliers, distributors and partners. Therefore, in looking for a BPM software tool today, business should ensure that:
1. It can be easily deployed to non-technical users with minimal IT-department support
2. It can integrate with existing corporate IT platforms and databases
3. It provides options for presenting process information to different types of users
4. Process maps and designs can be easily shared across work-units, allowing for easy collaboration
5. Reports can be securely access on mobile devices and via Web-browsers
The broader view in sight
Measurable gains in organisational performance can be achieved by redesigning core business process. This requires taking a broader view business activity, technology, and of the relationships between them. Technology has always been used to make old process better, and to create entirely new process. Now technological advances in BPM design and implementation is creating new opportunities for organisations.
However, challenges to successful implementation remain the same. Unclear goals, lack of a proper strategy, inappropriate technology, undervaluing people, and lack of leadership support can compromise your best BPM intentions.
To avoid this, business process mapping and reengineering has to be seen as more than a collection of technology tools and consultants. Leadership involvement and support is critical. It can mark the difference between making minor adjustments to localised systems and looking at the organisation as a whole to determine what effects changes will have on the business itself. This can fundamentally transform the way business is done and how value is created.
Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge officer at Congress WBN and the founder and executive director of BrightPath Foundation where he designs and implements education technology solutions for schools.
The four major steps of process mapping
1. Process identification: attaining a full understanding of all the steps of a process.
2. Information gathering: identifying objectives, risks, and key controls in a process.
3. Interviewing and mapping: understanding the point of view of individuals in the process and designing actual maps
4. Analysis: utilising tools and approaches to make the process run more effectively and efficiently.
Source: Business Process Mapping, John Wiley & Sons
Follow on Twitter: @bevilwooding and Facebook: facebook.com/bevilwooding or e-mail: [email protected]
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