What’s all the business process management (BPM) hype about, you might be wondering? BPM is everywhere online; you see it on billboards; it’s even in your dreams (okay, maybe not, but you get the idea).
Business process management, sometimes called business process automation, is a focus on process improvement to automate tasks, integrate systems, and provide access to critical information, which all results in reduced costs, increased revenue, maximized productivity, and growth.
Every company has process problems, or resistance to changing how something’s run. BPM doesn’t mean adding complexity to what you’re doing on a daily basis; if anything, it’s working to craft a simple end-to-end process that’s automated and actionable.
In today’s post, we’re going to explore some common process challenges and how BPM offers opportunities for improvement.
Common Real-World Process Challenges
It’s no secret that many departments within businesses struggle with information transfer and with having access to relevant documentation that’s pertinent to getting the job done. There’s also considerable frustration caused by emailing different versions of Word or Excel files and quickly losing track of what version is the latest – as well as what changes have actually been made between them.
How many hours do you spend sifting through folders on your hard drive or messaging someone about that invoice that’s somehow been lost to the ether? Probably too many to count. All this searching through files – physical and digital – causes an unruly amount of wasted time.
Take this situation, for example:
It’s 2:35 PM, and Becky from Accounting has to send out all of the invoices by end of business today in order to keep the Accounts Receivable schedule on track. Last week, she took vacation, so she’s had to play catch-up this week with the habitual “What did I miss?” not to mention the nightmarish paper stack in her desk tray. For the past 30 minutes, she’s been searching for a big account’s invoice that Mike said he printed out in order to keep track of. Since he was working on his computer and helping with workload while she was gone, the invoice was only stored on his computer, so she doesn’t have access to the file. Even though she’s searched through her tray and asked everyone in the department, there’s been no luck in finding it. Mike is also traveling remotely to a client, and he isn’t available to speak with. Alas, Becky, after realizing another 25 minutes has gone by in her desperate search, relents and re-creates the invoice again to send out for fear that it won’t go out in time.
Sound familiar at all? When you want to get out of the office quickly (and on a Friday afternoon, who doesn’t?), time is precious, and every minute counts. Becky’s lost an hour of her day searching for a single document. Not only have you, the CFO, lost the labor for the time spent, but you’ve also paid for the same document to be generated twice. No one wins in this scenario. Money’s lost, time is lost, and documents are lost – and that’s expensive (up to $350-700 dollars for a single lost document, in fact).
With solid BPM in place, this wouldn’t have happened. The document would’ve been traceable through an auto-indexed system, and Becky would’ve been able to see all the revisions that took place. Also, she would’ve received an automatic notification once the document was ready for review.
That’s the power of BPM and advanced task automation.
How Business Process Management Streamlines & Unifies Efforts
Business process management ensures that your business workflows are updated and that everyone involved has access to the right things, whenever, wherever. It’s a unification between information, people, and processes:
It starts with a look at the information you need to manage to operate your business - information that exists in your current applications and systems, as well as any ancillary information like the paper and forms that come through. This encompasses information stored on your hard drive, Word files, Excel files – in totality, all of the things that need to be reviewed by your people.
The facilitators need to be reviewed and examined for access and permission levels. Based on the degree of sensitivity to documents, you don’t want to give an entry-level employee permission to view and edit payroll information. That’s just dangerous. You can streamline this when you onboard employees, which illustrates a sound connection between HR and your other departments.
What’s everything your staff does each day? Is there a mapped out process for who needs to review items, and are steps laid out from start to finish? If not, BPM forces you to develop actionable steps for notifications and for how you will define something as “completed.”
Driving processes proactively (getting the information that people need to do their jobs when and where they need it) means your people can make instant decisions. Research has shown there’s typically 20-60% room for process improvement – and that’s a significant impact on businesses!
How Business Process Management Works
Most of the time, BPM is accompanied by a software solution that enables integration and communication between departments and systems.
Having a software platform that accomplishes BPM usually occurs as follows:
- First, the platform captures information that doesn’t fit in your existing systems (unstructured information such as paper, Word files, photographs, X-rays, other documentation, etc.)
- Data is then put into a centralized repository. It’s backed up and serves as your business continuity environment, and there’s a blanket of security around it so only authorized people have permission to work with it
- Then, it’s seamlessly integrated back into your existing systems (CRM, ERP, HR, accounting) so it can be shared across the platforms when and where it’s needed. Your workers now have instant access to what they need according to YOUR business process
Of course, every business is different, so the actual implementation process varies. However, it’s quicker than you think! In fact, it’s possible for you to be using BPM within 1-2 weeks!
Like what you’ve been reading? It gets even better. The results from BPM are proven to eliminate the time spent searching for documents. It reinforces compliance, and it even produces ROI in a year or less most of the time! Your equivalent to Becky in the previous example would not only be more productive, but she’d also be overjoyed at the ability to handle a simpler process, and to be able to focus on customer satisfaction and accuracy.
Want to learn more about BPM? Check out our video below and see how you can reap the benefits!