10 FAQs on Business Process Management


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Is BPM a methodology or a tool? What are the real costs and benefits of BPM? Who should be driving BPM implementation, business or IT? How can one get started with implementing BPM? Find some key answers in this white paper.

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10 FAQs on Business Process Management

  1. 1. White Paper10 FAQs on Business Process Management Is BPM a methodology or a tool? What are the real costs and benefits of BPM? Who should be driving BPM implementation, business or IT? How can one get started with implementing BPM? Find some key answers in this white paper.Business Process Management OverviewMany common business practices, once analyzed, can be In traditional approaches, BPM is applied in a top-downunderstood as being a series of relatively simple processes approach where a relatively small number of people define athat interact with each other to accomplish a larger result. process, proceed to re-engineer existing information systemsAlthough these smaller processes are essential to day-to-day to work with the process model, and then inform end usersbusiness activity, many businesses only consider large and how it is to be implemented. Furthermore, manycomplex aspects of their operations to be processes. Refining organizations implement BPM only for their mission-criticaland simplifying even simple current business practices can processes. However, you can use BPM with any process,often improve efficiency and quality while reducing costs. regardless of size or complexity. The reason BPM is often not used has more to do with the cost and complexity ofBusiness Process Management (BPM) is a way to plan, traditional BPM solutions than with the nature of theimplement, and ultimately improve the processes that make processes it can be applied to.up the aspects of your business. BPM offers a useful and clearview into business processes by allowing you to model existing Open source solutions are now enabling “BPM everywhere”(and planned) processes and run in-depth analysis and strategies at lower cost and with higher versatility than oldersimulation scenarios; processes can be tested and improved traditional alternatives. This allows everyone to use BPMprior to actual implementation so that potential flaws or regardless of budget, which means that bottom-up processinefficiencies can be resolved. improvement is possible. Furthermore, the open architecture of BPM software like Bonita Open Solution allows extensiveBPM is the end result of utilizing several fully-formed customization and adaptation of the process for a variety ofprocesses (processes that have been modeled, simulated, and projects and situations, rather than having to re-engineer ordebugged) working together in a real-world environment. adapt existing external systems. Bonita Open Solution evenThese processes often govern human interactions, allow provides the capability to create process-based applicationsmultiple systems to work together, or facilitate task that interact with many different data sources and handle theautomation in your organization. vital information your processes rely on.How is BPM able to improve my organizations efficiency?Applying BPM can ensure that standard procedures are shared, and stored on a regular basis. The processes involveddefined and followed for common day-to-day activities, and can be quite complex and add yet another complication tocan help manage the soft resources (information, data, labor new employee training. BPM can help alleviate this problemassignment) and hard resources (equipment, material) that by providing clearly defined processes for employees andare relevant to those activities. BPM can also help automate managers to follow. This allows your people to spend theirroutine yet repetitive tasks or support the individuals whose time moving your business forward instead of running inexpertise is required for non-routine tasks. For example, circles looking for the right person or the right informationorganizations often generate large amounts of paperwork they need.from routine internal activities since data must be generated,Download Bonita Open Solution www.bonitasoft.com ©BonitaSoft, 2011
  2. 2. A BonitaSoft White Paper 10 FAQs on Business Process ManagementWhat are the benefits of using BPM in my organization?Improving your processes will quickly result in reduced costs, employees absence and establish clear escalation proceduresincreased efficiency, and faster time-to-market. Implementing for certain situations. This can reduce time lost due toBPM helps ensure that key individuals involved in a process employee confusion and the need for managerial interventionare notified when action is required, ensures that they have in such instances. BPM can also simplify getting a newaccess to the resources they need to do their jobs well, and employee up to speed by clearly defining what must be donethat their actions help make downstream activities more before, during, and after the hiring process and by whom.effective as well. With an automatic delegation and escalation procedure in place, the main process does not get held up if someone is outBPM also helps to establish a clear chain of responsibility sick, on vacation, or overloaded. If one of your processeswithin your organization. For example, individual departments relies on an external application and BPM is used to managemay create processes that automatically delegate work to (or that process, any other users outside your organization (suchshare work with) the appropriate people in case of another as suppliers or clients) will reap the benefits as well.Is BPM a “methodology” or a “technology?”Both. BPM is used as a methodology for modeling, testing, For example, an application can notify any individuals that aredeploying, and improving business processes within a involved in a process of any tasks they must perform and thencompany or organization. Likewise, BPM is applied as a link them to the resources they need to do their jobs. Such atechnology when a tool such Bonita Open Solution is used to program may automatically delegate up or down thesystematically apply this methodology. management chain when appropriate to perform automatic tasks such as KPI (Key Performance Indicator) data collectionThe methodology of BPM also facilitates a clear understanding and data archiving without human intervention or display KPIof how a process actually works, moving towards how a information to the people who need it. IT specialists use BPMprocess should work, then moving further to optimize both to design these actions into the process model with the goal ofindividual processes and the “superprocesses” that reply on turning the process model into an executable application to bemultiple smaller processes to accomplish the results that deployed in the field.management objectives are aiming for. From a technologicalperspective, BPM takes the form of executable software thatis applied to manage a process.Is BPM only for mission-critical tasks in my organization?BPM is ideal for both mission-critical and routine tasks. The processes are often built on simpler ones. Maximizing thebenefits of applying BPM to smaller, routine processes can efficiency of minor processes will likely improve overallmultiply quickly throughout an organization since it is typically efficiency of the mission-critical ones as well. One of the besteasy to implement changes to smaller processes. However, it ways to leverage the power of BPM is to “start small” andis important to remember that complex, mission-critical build up from there.What are some examples of applications that can leverage a BPM solution?Many organizations use some form of BPM in their processes. BPM is also useful for helpdesk processes. Requests must beFor instance, any manufacturer has likely established a clear logged, tracked, resolved, documented, and forwarded toprocedure for assembly line production. This is essential since other support engineers. When used in a helpdesk setting,the various components that make up a car or any other BPM is different from other common approaches that requiremachine must be installed in a certain order (and sometimes employees to read a script. A BPM process clearly establishesrely on other parts having been installed beforehand) if the how situations should be handled rather than simply tellingfinished product is to work properly. Similarly, an auto repair the employee what to say. Integrating BPM capabilities intoshop can use BPM to track orders, manage inventory, track software designed to assist in helpdesk roles can enhance thisthe repair process, etc. Insurance companies can use BPM for process. New employees can be trained much more quickly ifonline claim filing, tracking, and resolution while banks can they have easy access to information related to their positionuse BPM to manage loan processes. (clear procedures to follow, previous records, etc.).Download Bonita Open Solution www.bonitasoft.com ©BonitaSoft, 2011
  3. 3. A Bonitasoft White Paper 10 FAQs on Business Process ManagementWhat are the benefits of open source BPM over proprietary alternatives?Traditional BPM solutions are proprietary applications Software users know what works best for their particulargenerally intended for implementation from the top down situations and many have the skills required to adapt thewithin an organization. These tools are often quite rigid in product to their needs with custom extensions, resources, andtheir design, and third-party extensions tend to be even translations of the core software. These improvementsunsupported by the original software publisher. The basic are then shared with everyone, so it is not always necessary tocharacteristics of open source software (such as Bonita Open start from scratch to deal with a particular situation. ForSolution) actually help to spread BPM to organizations instance, Bonita Open Solution allows users to create theirworldwide; there is a minimal cost of ownership (compared to own connectors and to reuse those made by other people inproprietary solutions) yet all essential features are included, the community. The user community can also providealong with greater flexibility for both management (design) additional support channels through online sharing tools suchand IT (implementation). as wikis (specialized encyclopedia-like websites that everyone may contribute to) and forums. In this way, an open sourceOpen source software is inherently community-oriented. product can be extended and modified to satisfy many diverseOpen source solutions can fully leverage the combined power needs and implementations.of the user community to improve the overall product.Is BPM for “business people” or “technical people?”Both. Once implemented, BPM can be equally useful to users IT specialists need an effective development environment thatwith different skills at many levels in an organization. allows fast and agile application development. A flexible BPM tool provides a means for nearly code-free applicationThose in management can use BPM to establish clear development, allows easy connectivity with externalprocesses for routine business procedures, since they need to information systems or data sources, and includes anbe able to model processes easily using standard notations integrated test and simulation environment prior tolike business process management notation (BPMN). deployment.Managers also frequently need to identify key performanceindicators to implement business activity monitoring. With the Advanced BPM solutions like Bonita Open Solution provideprocess model in place, a manager can test alternative process business and development features all-in-one, which not onlyversions using process simulation; once the actual process has supports both types of users but also encourages ongoingbeen deployed in the field, data collected can be used for collaboration between business and IT in process design,continuous improvement or process modification. Should a development, testing, and deployment.process need more than a minor adjustment, a flexible BPMsolution will allow complex modifications and re-testingwithout incurring further development cost.How is BPM related to application development?BPM has the potential to revolutionize your web application simultaneous application and process model development.development practices. Developing a custom in-house Applications built on processes can then be deployed in typicalapplication from scratch using conventional methods is production environments or distributed “in the cloud.” Whenexpensive and it can take months (or longer) to bring a you want to modify an application, BPM (as implemented bysolution from concept to production. Furthermore, manually Bonita Open Solution) allows you to simply change thecoding a software solution requires employees with underlying processes instead of manually re-coding thespecialized knowledge or the use of outside contractors. application itself.Bonita Open Solution provides the tools for easy,What is “BPM-enabled process automation”?In addition to its application for modeling and improving As noted in “BPM as a technology,” executable softwarebusiness processes, Business Process Management enables a applied to a process can be applied to perform automaticuseful form of process automation. tasks such as KPI data collection, data archiving, sending notifications, or fetching and displaying information to users.Download Bonita Open Solution www.bonitasoft.com ©BonitaSoft, 2011
  4. 4. A Bonitasoft White Paper 10 FAQs on Business Process ManagementWhile you are analyzing a process during the design phase, (or data from its source , process it, and forward it to the righteven when it has been deployed and is being monitored) you channels (performing all steps simultaneously) instead ofmay notice certain aspects that would be more effective if requiring a clerk to do all the steps manually for each entry.they were automated. For instance, routine data entry would Process automation can also help your organization interactbe far more efficient if a process could automatically retrieve more effectively with your business partners and customers.How can I start using BPM?A good place to start is to identify a process in your effectively? Not only does this increase your awareness of theorganization that is already working but could be improved. If current situation, but it also helps you learn how to create ayou are looking to validate the value of BPM, consider comfortable and efficient work environment that utilizes yourchoosing a process that, if improved, could result in employees strengths instead of forcing them to adhere todemonstrable reduction in cost, time, or some other other methods that are unnatural and cumbersome.measurable result. It may be tempting to choose a minor,isolated process to experiment with to minimize risk, yet you Involve the process stakeholders in the process design. Thiswould also sacrifice the opportunity to improve a process that means including the people who are responsible foris more likely to be noticed and could potentially open the implementing the target process, those who are interested indoor to further improvements with BPM. the results or outcome (management), and those who will be responsible for taking the process design into its execution (ITStart by modeling the way a process works without any sort of staff). Involve the end users in the testing phase wheneverBPM enhancement. Next, adjust this model to the way the possible and use their feedback to further refine the processprocess could be improved once BPM has been added. Finding design.current practices to improve may seem difficult at first, butopportunities will likely materialize after some investigation. BPM is not all or nothing. It is unrealistic to start with no realMany important (and often routine) business practices are BPM usage in an organization and suddenly expect to receivenever documented in detail or discussed verbally. This is the maximum benefits on your next project. Simply striving totime to document what is currently being done and then “increase efficiency” is an ambiguous goal, so set concrete,consider what might be done differently and the benefits that measurable expectations and monitor the process before andsuch changes might bring. after implementation of BPM to document progress.Next, do a thorough analysis of how your employees conduct Look for small ways to implement BPM in your organization,themselves while doing their jobs. Why do they function the but choose a process that will feed its improvements intoway they do, what resources do they need to use, and what downstream processes. Once small, influential aspects arebottlenecks do they experience? Have they ever asked for measurably more efficient due to BPM, it becomes easier tospecific changes? What would help them do their jobs more bring people on board to apply BPM to improve efficiency in other areas of your business. Contacts BonitaSoft is the leading provider of open source business process management (BPM) software. Created in 2009 by the founders of the Bonita project, BonitaSoft is democratizing the use of BPM in companies of all sizes with an intuitive and powerful solution at an optimum cost. The Bonita solution has been downloaded more than 800,000 times to date by companies and organizations worldwide. Sales inquiries: sales@bonitasoft.com | Partner inquiries: partners@bonitasoft.com www.bonitasoft.com bonitasoft.com/blog twitter.com/bonitasoft youtube.com/bonitasoftDownload Bonita Open Solution www.bonitasoft.com ©BonitaSoft, 2011