Your company likely has a few enterprising employees who are always trying to come up with something new. They have ideas or better ways of doing things and you wish your whole staff operated like that. While not every employee will get excited about improving their workflows, some companies are establishing teams specifically to improve company processes. These change managers constantly review company protocol and work through business process management plans.
Even if you don’t have dedicated staff to work on BPM, you can train your employees to work through a business process management plan. Here is why your company needs to develop a BPM plan, regardless of your size or industry.
What is a Business Process Management Plan?
By definition, business process management aligns all of the components in an organization to improve operational performance, explains the team at Cyber Infrastructure.
Therefore, the BPM plan is the process put into place to create more unified operations and work with various stakeholders, employees and leaders all playing to their strengths. BPM is about continuous improvement, which companies need to work toward if they want to survive.
“If you take a look at the very nature of business processes, it is easy to see how there is a need to manage them,” writes Martin Luenendonk, cofounder of Cleverism. “While some processes are straightforward, involving only two or three steps or tasks, there are others that are far more complex, with multiple steps that involve multiple performers or users.”
When these processes are performed on a regular basis, businesses need to review and optimize them to make sure the company is functioning at its best. This is why a BPM plan is important.
What Are the Benefits of BPM?
Along with providing greater clarity into the operations of your business, there are significant additional benefits to using BPM. These benefits will vary depending on your industry and how you use process management, but many will overlap within teams and departments.
You may not realize it at first, but most processes within companies are held together with metaphorical “duct tape and chewing gum” that employees use to quickly solve problems in order to accomplish their tasks.
“Ideally, business process management will remove 90% or more of the workarounds your employees use to complete tasks,” explains the team at Panorama Consulting Solutions. “Employees use workarounds when processes are poorly defined. Sometimes, the current technology cannot support efficient processes anyway.”
Once you start to understand why things are done in certain ways, you can really see the need for process improvement.
The team at intranet software provider Claromentis emphasizes how BPM mitigates risk. It allows companies to stay on top of government regulations and make sure that they are compliant in their processes.
This is also where the workarounds come in. A well-meaning employee might create a workaround to achieve their goals but end up with the company failing to meet government compliance. A change management team can review these processes and make corrections as needed.
A few years ago, most companies could find waste to cut in order to save money and resources. However, as more companies operate on tight budgets, making cuts isn’t an option.
“There simply is not much left to cut,” says business writer Kamille Nixon. “However, in order to thrive, organizations still need to maximize the efficiency of the costs they do incur and profit they generate.”
Developing and implementing a culture of continuous improvement allows companies to do more with less without feeling like the only way to move the needle is with dramatic cuts.
Improved Employee Morale
While your team may push back against change at first, most employees welcome better processes and clearer ways of doing things. “By optimizing certain processes and workflows in the organization, you may be surprised to find how much it can improve employees' satisfaction, since doing so can cause a shift in their roles and responsibilities,” write the team at AppWright.
They explain that better process management is not a silver bullet solution for happy employees, but it can create a space for employees to highlight parts of their work that they are unhappy with and that can be improved. Also, created a better functioning company creates less friction within teams.
These are just a few benefits of having a BPM plan. Additionally, process management can be applied to almost any department or team.
Business writer Jamie Johnson gives some examples of how BPM can change various departments outside of the world of IT. One is the field of human resources, which has tons of paperwork and processes that involve multiple employees. An employee has to submit a vacation form, a manger has to approve it, and the HR team has to record it. If companies can cut down on these steps or look for ways to streamline them, then employees will get less annoyed by existing processes and HR managers can focus on more important work than reviewing time off.
What Goes Into a BPM Plan?
As you develop the first steps of your BPM plan, you can gather the information you need to develop a process that works for your team.
To better understand the model behind BPM, the creative team at PNMsoft created a graphic that walks users through the process of continuous improvement: model, implement, execute, monitor, optimize.
Like any lifecycle, the optimize step circles back to the modeling and implementing process. Your company is never done improving and looking for ways to manage operations better.
When implementing the various steps of business process management, you can categorize your improved processes into three tiers. These are based on the types of processes you are working on. The team at Kissflow broke down their three tiers as follows:
Integration-centric. Processes that connect technologies together with minimal human input.
Human-centric. Processes that require a lot of human effort and input. The people involved will be most affected by the change.
Document-centric. Processes where a document (like a contract) is at the heart of the task.
For example, if a person has to pull together and present a long report, then simplifying it would be human-centric. Meanwhile, condensing forms into one page instead of five would be document-centric.
BPM and digital transformation looks different in every company says Sidnei Falcão, sales consultant at DXC Technology. Each business has elements that need to be improved, automated and updated. BPM can even change within company quarters or fiscal years as the business adjusts its goals and budgets for specific needs.
This flexibility is important. You need a BPM plan that works for one team during one quarter and then can be tweaked to fit the following year.
“For a BPM implementation to be successful, it needs to grow when the business grows,” Virender Jeet, senior vice president of technologies at Newgen Software, says. “Flexibility translates to users being able to deploy the software to new departments, change workflows when needed and add more functionality.”
When done well, teams can develop flexible solutions that can be tweaked and adjusted for other departments. This way change managers don’t need to reinvent the wheel with each project. They can adapt past solutions and keep applying them where they fit.
Your Stakeholders Are at the Center of Your BPM Plan
The success of your business process management plan relies on the employees, contractors, and managers within an organization. Without these stakeholders, your company is bound to fall into a rut and stay there.
“Identifying opportunities for improvement and increased efficiency is often second nature to process improvement specialists,” says business improvement advocate Thomas Kohlenbach. “But that is only half the battle. To understand each process and how it is actually executed in the business every day, it’s best to engage your front-line teams as your most reliable source of the truth.”
Not only are these employees your best sources of information and ideas for improvement, they also know how reality can be very different from theory and how plans developed in management meetings fall apart in execution.
BPM practitioner Shelley Sweet recommends pulling together a team of stakeholders for each improvement project to work toward a unified goal. In an article for the BPM Institute, she described the roles in her ideal process management team and then explained why each person is important.
“The team stays together for all meetings and begins to see the big picture; they learn to respect all parts of the process and develop the new ‘to be’ model based on their analysis, data gathering, and customer in put together,” Sweet writes.
Not only does the knowledge of the team pool together, but so does the enthusiasm for the project as teams work through problems and develop solutions.
Marc Lankhorst, managing consultant at BiZZdesign, says there are typically three types of stakeholders you will communicate with — each with their own needs:
Designing stakeholders. These stakeholders are often developing solutions and working in the trenches to find things that need to be improved and unique ways to implement improvements.
Deciding stakeholders. These stakeholders will choose what to prioritize and which projects to invest in. They will also provide insight into the best methods of completing tasks.
Informing stakeholders. These stakeholders need to stay abreast of changes and the reasons behind any adjustments, but you do not need them to decide on anything or develop solutions for you.
Change managers have to keep their end goals in mind when addressing these various stakeholders. Otherwise they end up with too many people trying to make decisions or not enough direction to implement improvements.
Fortunately, now is one of the best times for companies to introduce BPM plans to their organizations, writes Alena Davis, senior manager of digital marketing at development platform Appian. The rise of workplace social media and chat solutions like Slack and Skype have made it easier to collaborate with peers. Managers value teamwork and promote the idea of collaboration, which means companies can band together and break down silos to share new ideas and best practices with each other.
Furthermore, companies can also automate unnecessary communication so they can focus on more pressing issues, optimizing communication workflow.
Your employees might not be open to change when you first start implementing process improvement. However, as more teams experience the benefits of this practice, you will see more willing employees who want to use a business process management plan to help them succeed.