The BPM technology (Business Process Management technology) gathers management tools, methods and techniques with the purpose of monitoring and controlling the development, progress and conclusion of processes.
It provides a sophisticated level of automation, combining the logic you can see in the business models with the rules and data that are linked to each activity of the process.
In fact, it’s a new generation of business applications and it offers unprecedented workflow management and improved flow‐status reporting.
The differential of BPM technology is in the innovation that it brings.
The tools and technologies it uses allow not only to manage a business process through its components (activities, people, machines, and software), but also to precisely cut costs, time and resource consumption that are intrinsic to each one of these components.
In this post I will explain the central elements of the BPM technology and how to apply them to your business.
BPM technology – an improvement method
BPM technologies are to be understood as a wide approach, covering the technologies implementation, as well as (and mostly) the application of methods and techniques that install, control and improve the business processes. This results, for example, in a better reliability, cost reduction and greater adjustability to the client’s requests.
BPM involves innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology.
BPM’s focus is to achieve the goals of the organizations, whether they are big or small, through improvements, management, and control of methods, techniques, and tools used to analyze, model, publish, optimize and oversee processes involving human resources, applications, documents and other sources of information.
Besides, some of the BPM technologies can simulate the various scenarios proposed by the analysis based on each client’s particularities, to then generate metrics of efficiency, temporal or monetary, to a particular process.
Capabilities of BPM technologies
The stack below shows the core functionalities of BPM technology, and it helps us to understand how these elements fit with BPM disciplines.
Application Generation involves automation technologies such as end-user task lists, automation configuration, and data management.
Performance Monitoring includes reporting tools, management dashboards, and other decision support tools. These features are important for BPM performance management.
Finally, the EAI/SOA (Enterprise Application Integration/Service-Oriented Architecture) capability represents features to integrate BPM platforms and legacy systems, most of the times using web services technologies.
Now, let’s take a look at the main BPM technologies.
Five tools of BPM Technology Tools
1- Business Process Analysis (BPA) – Process and Workflow Modelers
Modeling tools allow process analysts to diagram business processes and detail documentation about their operations, volumes, risks, opportunities, bottlenecks, business rules, etc associated with each routine.
Some common BPA features include:
- Ability to identify activities, tasks, and responsibilities.
- Documenting business rules.
- Adding annotations or files to activities or tasks.
- Repository of diagrams and documents.
- Decomposing any activity into lower levels of detail.
- Collaboration for editing or improvements.
- Volumes, value ranges, and timing.
Let’s see an example of a business process analysis tool.
First, the process analyst creates a diagram and documents each element.
It will generate a complete documentation of the process.
Also, the process analyst can publish the process on a portal. So, people can read all the details of the documentation and send suggestions for improvements.
After that, the analyst receives all the suggestions and generates an improvement request.
Finally, the process analyst generates a new version of the process, implements the improvement, and publishes the latest version.
2- Rules Engines or Business Rules Management Systems (BRMS)
Implementing and maintaining business rules are often challenging.
Sometimes it seems impossible!
These rules define how work will be done in each task of the process, and there are many kinds of rules such as Business operation rules, Decision rules, Legal rules, Regulatory rules (SOX), Access security rules, etc.
Rules Engines are tools that support the discovery, documentation, verification, and quality of business rules. Rules Engines also provide a repository that allows the centralization and quality improvement.
Some benefits of Rules Engines include
- Externalization of rules in a standard format, using a standard vocabulary
- Single central rules repository
- Flexible rule definition and documentation
- Version control and approval workflow
- Ability to allow business analysts to develop and maintain business rules.
3- Business Process Management Suites (BPMS)
A Business Process Management Suite is a technological environment that allows the modeling, testing, executing, and managing of business processes.
It generates all applications you need to execute a business process, and it allows fast change, with total control over business processes needs. This ability is what delivers both initial optimization and continuous improvement.
Below are the steps and cycle you have to know to find out how BPMS works.
First, you have to design your processes. It’s a BPM discipline that fixes root-causes of problems, bottlenecks, and other problems identified during the analysis phase. Read more about process design principles.
Second, you have to model the solution in the BPMS. Briefly, it’s the automation configuration. In the image below you can see the design of a form for a process task.
Third, there is the process execution. At this moment, users will access a list of tasks they are responsible for.
Fourth, managers can monitor indicators in real-time. For instance, they can do it on a smartphone.
Finally, the business process analyst can generate a new version of the process, make changes and optimize the processes it. Depending on the complexity of the process, the analyst can do everything without technical skills.
This agility is one of the most significant advantages of a Business Process Management Suite!
4- Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)
BAM’s aim is to provide a comprehensive look at the business process operation. It allows decision-makers to take corrective action as problems occur in order to optimize business performance.
Management dashboards are the most popular form of BAM tools. By using graphical elements such as cards, gauges, charts and listings, this kind of tool offers an overview of the entire operation.
Below are some examples of Business Activity Monitoring…
The example above shows a dashboards with the main indicators of a non-profit organization. Dashboards provide a focal point by being a place where the whole team can concentrate on KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
The following picture illustrates dashboards on a smartphone.
In my opinion, the BAM component is the most important in a BPM suite. It’s the reason companies invest so much in processes, management, and related areas.
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