Business process management

What is a business process?

Any series of steps taken by staff to achieve an outcome, or any series of steps that occur in an automated process, like a computerized procedure (like billing, ordering stock, and so on).

Why does business process management (BPM) matter to you?

Because there are costs associated with getting a process wrong, or being less efficient about it than you could be.

How can you manage your processes?

BPM is today widely practiced by business process analysts, sometimes referred to as just business analysts (BAs).   This is one of my core skills.

I draw on a set of integrated tools and methods to model processes, analyse efficiency both quantitatively and qualitatively, and apply techniques like Lean Six Sigma to reduce inefficiency, waste, and errors.  The goal is to save your organization money and improve customer satisfaction.

One of the core tools used to more easily visualize and analyse business processes is the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) language, as illustrated in Figure 1 below.

FIGURE 1: a hypothetical travel booking process in BPMN. The diagram is only an example to show some of the features of the visual language. Most BPMN models are very large and cover many printed pages to capture all the necessary details of the processes they describe.

Once I have identified and analysed an existing process, I can then work with your subject matter experts (the staff who know what needs to be done and how) to identify improvements.

Implementing improvements could be quite simple, like just tweaking a few steps in the process, or it could involve a fundamental re-design, followed by an implementation project that could involve changed rôles for your staff, new technology, and training.

My experience and training means I employ a wider framework of reference than most BAs –

  • Expertise in enterprise architecture allows me to see how each process relates to all the others in a broader strategic context, avoiding the risk of misaligning improvement efforts.
  • An ITIL-driven service management design background helps me remain mindful of the need for smooth transitions as part of process improvements.
  • Front-of-mind PRINCE2 project management methods allow me to break down improvement tasks in a disciplined, carefully planned approach, including the ability to execute such projects in the shortened agile increment cycles.
  • Public affairs management experience gives me the skills and experience to address any internal and external confusion or resistance to change through clear and effective communications.
  • Training and change or transformational management know-how means I am always ready to guide changes, analyse training needs, develop change communications and training collateral, and to facilitate or conduct briefings, workshops and training programmes.

Why is it important to my clients that I have this broader outlook?

  • Quite often, looking at improving one process in isolation from all others creates more problems than it solves by misaligning the new process with others, or with customer expectations.
  • Even good business analysts can fail when they have to rely solely on subject matter experts, without the deeper knowledge necessary to identify potential knowledge gaps, process contradictions, and overlooked organizational practices that can derail improvement efforts.

Still confused about BPM?

Don’t worry.  That’s not unusual.  I can explain it to you in person, if you’d like (email me to arrange for a meeting), or have a look at some more detailed information about –

  • The business process management lifecycle
  • A short history of business process management
  • Why it’s a mistake to use BPM only to sack people