An Overview of Business Process Management

Business Process Management, or BPM, now more and more driven by software, has been a management discipline for a long time, and it would seem to be rather straightforward to implement an automated system. In reality it is not. For one thing, business process management involves people to a large extent, and it can be very difficult to standardize a rather complex process in which people are deeply embedded. In addition, the terminology used in BPM is not as standard as one might suppose. In fact, if one were to specify a BPM software application, and leave it at that, Business Performance Management software could be what turns up on the doorstep.

As companies have automated aspects of their business process models, each has tended to go their own way, and today’s management systems are far different from the document driven systems of 20 years ago.

Getting back to basics, where there is an area of generally common agreement, business process management is generally defined as a discipline that governs the business process environment with the aim of improving business operation performance, while at the same time providing flexibility and agility when dealing with change. Most processes in place today, especially in larger corporations, tend to be highly structured, replete with software tools, metrics, and policies and procedures designed not only carry out business but to continuously optimize the process.

An Example Of Past And Present – Highly automated business management systems that are being put into place today usually need to address both person-to-person and system-to-system processes. One only needs to visit a doctor’s office to see such a system, on a smaller scale perhaps, in action. In the course of the consultation, the doctor, through his laptop or notebook, can review a patient’s past history, view past and present lab tests, document exam or diagnostic results, set up appointments with other physicians, and e-mail prescriptions to the pharmacy of the patients choice. Just a few short years ago, that portion of a doctor’s business management process involved locating and pulling a sometimes very fat folder containing the patient’s records from the files, sending an aide to pick up lab test results, writing prescriptions, and negotiating appointments over the phone.

A business process management system used in a large corporation has to interact with many different organizations as well as outside companies, clients, and vendors, making certain among other things that all communications received are routed to the appropriate party or parties, and tracked. Since contemporary automated BPM systems are often based on preceding, non-automated processes, it is little wonder that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all system application.