A Guide to Modern Business Process Management
The processes within a business define how work gets done. They directly impact operations and determine whether a company is successful or not.
A business with complicated and unorganized processes will likely have constant issues, increased work times, more errors, and a poor work environment. This is why Business Process Management (BPM) is key to every organization, regardless of size.
When business process management is done right, companies have efficient and repeatable work processes for every department. These processes make your employees' lives easier and create a cohesive work environment.
This article will delve into business project management. We'll explore what it is, its benefits, the different types of BPM, and the must-have features for your BPM software.
What Is Business Process Management?
Business process management is the practice of discovering, analyzing, and optimizing core processes across an organization. It’s used to identify processes that require improvement to be more efficient.
BPM can be applied to the core processes of an entire organization or each department. The main goal of BPM is to streamline workflows via advanced analytics, monitoring, and effective data-driven decision-making.
Lean and Six Sigma are examples of common BPM methodologies.
Why Is Business Process Management Important?
Unorganized work systems lead to scattered workers who only see a part of the entire system. They're unaware of how their work benefits the company and are just focused on their own tasks. Managers and leaders will also struggle to identify critical data, potential bottlenecks, and any inefficiencies.
On the other hand, a successful BPM system can lead to:
- Increased efficiency: When existing processes are optimized, employees can work faster. They have all the data they need in front of them and can handle tasks more efficiently. Since business process management software also introduces automation into the workflow, employees can focus on non-repetitive, high-impact tasks. This, in turn, allows businesses to achieve their goals faster.
- Cost-saving: When redundant bottlenecks and processes are eliminated, the organization saves money on resources. Workers spend fewer hours completing tasks, and every resource is effectively managed. Essentially, they can spend less to get the desired outcomes. Any additional resources can also be directed toward high-priority work.
- Boosted employee productivity: A BPM software like SmartSuite brings a company's entire workspace onto one well-organized platform. Employees waste less time jumping between tabs and apps to get updates or complete tasks. They have all the tools they need for successful task completion within a single collaborative workspace. Streamlined workflows also help them understand and complete task deliverables faster. Onboarding new team members becomes less time-consuming. All of this contributes to elevated productivity.
- Improved transparency: Transparency is key to a successful business. Employees need to know what they're doing and why they're doing it. Knowing this information helps them feel motivated to achieve team goals. Using SmartSuite, for example, you can set organizational, departmental, and team goals. Track progress toward these goals and any other KPIs in real-time via Dashboards. Task assignees also give individuals ownership of their work, while charts and different views help visualize KPIs and strategies.
- Enhanced customer experience: When employees aren’t bogged down by poor workflows and lackluster information distribution, they can turn their attention toward customer satisfaction. Process improvement leads to a faster workflow. This means teams can meet deliverables quicker and handle any issues or errors within a reasonable time. Rather than play the blame game, teams can quickly identify and solve problems to keep customers happy.
- Easy scalability: A good BPM system makes scaling effortless via universal organized processes, automation, and integration. Efficient workflows with consistent processes can be adopted by employees worldwide with ease. With BPM software like SmartSuite, you can just upgrade your plan to add more team members rather than build new scaling systems.
- Reduced dependency on developers: With a BPM solution that provides low-code or no-code apps to support your work processes, your developers no longer need to spend hours or days developing solutions from scratch. Their burden is also reduced since new users can be onboarded faster, without extensive IT support. Process automation also significantly reduces their workload.
Types of Business Process Management
There are three types of business process management.
We’ve outlined each of them below.
Switching between apps regularly reduces efficiency and fragments communication.
With Integration-centric BPM, your tools are integrated via APIs and connectors so that all your information is on one central source.
It aims to streamline data integration across systems, such as human resource management (HRM) and customer relationship management (CRM).
When all your data is on a single platform, employees no longer need to search for what they need, and there's also a reduced chance of errors.
Human-centric BPM is primarily focused on processes with heavy human involvement. These processes require humans to complete.
It aims to make employees' lives easier via an intuitive user interface. Accessible task management features, real-time notifications, and faster approval processes are part of human-centric BPM.
For example, a full-fledged Member Directory can help streamline HR processes such as employee management.
Other examples of human-centric processes that can benefit from optimized processes and automation are hiring new employees or completing a marketing campaign.
Documents are crucial for every business. A document-centric BPM solution ensures that critical documents, like contracts, go through different work stages efficiently — such as formatting and verifying.
Your document can be anything from a blog post to a legal document that requires several rounds of revisions or approvals.
Your BPM system will often focus predominantly on one of these elements but can borrow from all of them.
How Is Business Process Management Different From Task or Project Management?
Business process management is often mixed up with task management and project management. But these are all completely different processes with varying objectives.
Task management refers to prioritizing and completing specific assignments within a project.
Project management refers to the goals, tools, and processes managers use to guide their teams to project completion. It is a one-off process that applies to each project.
By comparison, BPM is all about creating and implementing repetitive, ongoing processes throughout the organization that benefit all teams within it.
What Is the Business Process Management Lifecycle?
The BPM life cycle has five stages:
Here’s a brief explanation of each stage to help you get a better understanding:
1. Process Design
Start by identifying the individual steps in the business workflow you are designing or improving. Each step in the workflow must be clearly defined to help teams identify areas for improvement. Also, set metrics to track progress.
Visualize the process using charts or different board views. Then, add details like deadlines, timelines, task descriptions, and data flow. BPM software helps you create process maps through a collaborative document or whiteboard.
Test out your process by executing it with a limited group. Get feedback, make changes, and open it up to more users.
Monitor the process throughout the workflow and track metrics to see if it improves efficiency. This step also helps identify any bottlenecks or issues along with areas for continuous improvement.
After monitoring, identify areas for further improvement and make final adjustments to boost productivity.
The Use Cases of Business Process Management
Business process management can improve several workflows within an organization.
Here are some examples:
Create structured workflows for document management to improve employee onboarding, performance reviews, leave requests, and timesheet approvals. You can automate the entire HR process from end-to-end to save money and time.
You can also boost your recruitment process to attract and secure the best talent with a good BPM.
Streamline content creation and delivery by using BPM to automate content processes. Create a workflow that integrates your content management system, rights management, and work order processes.
On a comprehensive work management platform like SmartSuite, you can store and track everything involved in content creation and delivery as part of one solution. Workers and project managers can monitor performance to identify areas that need improvement.
Reduce paper forms and stop endless emails to your finance team by creating a system to standardize processes. For example, the finance team can use templates to track purchase orders from different departments and create custom workflows for every team's unique needs.
They can use Dashboards on SmartSuite to get an overview of investments, debts, repayment schedules, corporate audits, and more.
Use BPM to create a system that lets customer support executives track frequently asked questions (FAQs) and add them to a chatbot. They can also create more personalized answers by automating data transcription from call centers.
They can also create a detailed support library, streamline customer onboarding, and create workflows that record and solve customer issues.
7 Essential Features of a Business Process Management Tool
Now that you understand the importance of a business process management system, let's look at the seven features that every excellent BPM software has:
1. Effective Data Management
Your BPM lifecycle relies on collecting the correct data and effective data management. Therefore, your BPM solution must enable effective data capture, organization, and analysis from different teams within your organization.
On SmartSuite, you can use a template to create a business solution and directly import process data from multiple sources, including Excel sheets, calendars, and contacts. Their intuitive import module automatically maps the data you import into relevant application fields to speed up data organization.
You can also bulk update existing project records via data import from external sources. To facilitate data-driven BPM, the platform performs data validation checks to ensure data quality and identify issues.
Integrations let you collect and move data throughout different apps and processes. Advanced file management helps you store and share process data effectively.
SmartSuite is a complete work management platform, meaning you can use this data to complete projects within the platform with its intuitive user interface and project boards.
2. Role-Based Access Control
Every BPM solution has forms that contain sensitive data about projects and processes that need to be secured. You need a tool that protects your information via role-based access controls.
Role-based access controls ensure that lower-level team members have restricted access, teams can only see relevant data, and that only data fields related to each other are shown.
SmartSuite understands this need and thus uses Permissions at a Solution-level that dictate who can view, edit, or create data.
Every team doesn't need to view all information. Let's say there's a complex project that involves multiple teams. In this scenario, you can use permissions to give the marketing team access to their campaign data or the customer team access to client records.
You can grant the entire team permission to view records within a solution or application, but only certain team members can edit them.
Advanced permissions let you grant specific permissions to each employee. For example, you can give senior members access to sensitive employee information in HR, while an intern or new hire gets access to limited HR solutions.
3. Real-Time Collaboration
Successful completion of the BPM lifecycle requires a team effort. Leaders can't improve efficiency on their own. This is why you need real-time collaboration.
On SmartSuite, you can boost collaboration via comments, real-time updates, @ mentions, an extensive member directory, and activity history.
Let's say your record within SmartSuite represents a process with multiple sub-tasks. To improve this process, you need to have numerous conversations around each record.
While overall updates to the process can be communicated with an email or Slack message, how do you ensure that improved methods are followed?
With SmartSuite, you can comment on each task within the task itself. So, for example, if a task is being delayed because the team member is not adhering to a particular process, you can directly comment on it and highlight what they could do better.
You can also tag them directly in your comment to get their attention faster.
In another scenario, if you need to add a team member to help improve efficiency, you can do so by searching through an extensive Member Directory. Every employee has a profile within this directory with their strengths and interests highlighted.
All of these features bolster process improvements and make them easier to implement.
4. Integration With Existing Systems
A BPM tool that does not integrate with your core software systems is ineffective and rather useless. It forces you to manually transfer data between apps and monitor multiple apps to track progress.
Your BPM solution must enable better processes, not hinder you further. Integration is key to this.
SmartSuite integrates with 2,000+ third-party apps, so all your data and the processes they dictate can be combined to create a cohesive system.
The platform uses Zapier for integration and a SmartSuite API for advanced integrations.
Business process management is made even easier with SmartSuite's cross-platform automation. You can create automation rules that help multiple apps work together to collect data, analyze it, and improve processes.
5. Insightful Analytics
Business process management is heavily reliant on analytics. Once you've captured the data, you need a platform that lets you measure performance in real-time. This also applies in the Monitor and Optimize phases of the BPM lifecycle.
To enable data-driven BPM, SmartSuite offers Dashboards — a space where you can aggregate data and visualize different data sets using easy-to-configure widgets.
You can create Dashboards for every level within your organization and understand precisely how a current process is working and what can be done to improve the workflow.
With Dashboards, you can embed charts, calculate and track metrics, and build tables to summarize data. You can also embed websites, social media networks, documents from Google Drive, Jira, Confluence, and Microsoft Office.
This is great for integration and document-centric BPM, especially since the Dashboards are flexible and you can use them to track any BPM metric you want.
You can use a Dashboard to make announcements, add checklists, calendars, a world clock, and more for added functionality.
BPM tools must have automation. Without workflow automation, the organization spends extra time on every part of the BPM lifecycle.
With automated workflows, you can speed up data collection, process design, execution, and analysis.
Automation rules are easy to create on SmartSuite. They follow a basic "if this, then that" logic where a trigger leads to a predetermined action.
You can set up a simple automation rule like the one in the image above, or you can build a complex automated system to streamline your BPM lifecycle.
For example, rather than manually collecting data in the "Monitor" phase, you can set up an automation that sends weekly reports to your email that collates information regarding the metrics you want to track.
As mentioned earlier, SmartSuite lets you automate processes across apps for smoother work management.
7. Single Sign-On and Mobile Support
Single Sign-On (SSO) is an authentication method that lets you sign into multiple platforms using one set of credentials. From a BPM perspective, it’s convenient for users since they can access tools easier.
It also reduces dependencies on developers in enterprises since they don't have to track credentials for every new user and all their tools.
Mobile support is also essential for BPM so that teams can access work processes anytime, anywhere.
SmartSuite brings your tools onto one platform, so in a way, it’s a single-sign-on system. Login to your SmartSuite account and all your tools and processes are accessible instantly.
Working on the go is also easy with SmartSuite's dynamic mobile app for desktops, tablets, and phones.
Make Business Process Management Effortless With SmartSuite
Business process management is a fairly straightforward process with the right software at your disposal. When completed effectively, BPM improves operational efficiency and boosts the bottom line.
SmartSuite is the right business process management tool for all organizations. The platform has the features to support every aspect of BPM, from data capture to analysis and implementation.
Changing processes within existing workflows and solutions is also simple, thanks to drag and drop features and different project board views.
We have hundreds of solution templates for varying business processes. Here are a few:
- Board Management
- Contract Management
- Company Documents
- Objectives and Key Results
- Simple Process
- Company Strategy
- Business Roadmap