A business process is a series of steps performed by a group of stakeholders to achieve a concrete goal. These steps are often repeated many times, sometimes by multiple users and ideally in a standardized and optimized way. A business process can be manual or automated. If manual, the process is achieved without the aid of an automation or assisting technology. If automated, a technology aid has been put into place which assists users in implementing the process in a more accurate, standardized or optimized manner.
Types of Business Processes
Business processes span industries, both vertical and horizontal, and can include any type of business operation. Examples include:
- Manufacturing – an product assembly process, a quality assurance process, a corrective/preventive maintenance process.
- Finance – an invoicing process, a billing process, a risk management process
- Health – a medical assessment, a drug approval
- Banking – customer on-boarding, credit check
- Travel – trip booking, agent billing
- Defense – a situation room process, emergency management process
- HR – a starters process, a leavers process, vacation request
- Public Sector – application for a government service
- Compliance – a safety audit, a legal check
The key here is that business processes are cross-industry. That is why many business process management frameworks attempt to create technology solutions that are industry-independent.
Challenges Related to Business Processes
Executing business processes successfully is not always an easy task. There are numerous challenges which arise, including:
- Bottlenecks – the slowing or halting of a process at a specific stage due to a human/machine error or difficulty.
- Duplication of work and redundancy – inefficient processes often have areas that are repeated or unnecessary.
- Lack of visibility – management does not have a way of viewing where processes stand, what their status is, and how they are performing generally, and specifically.
- Integration issues – process technology does not always integrate well with existing systems, causing communication gaps and malfunctions.
Technical Solutions to these Challenges
An effective BPMS (Business Process Management Suite) should take into account the above challenges, and provide a set of tools to handle and alleviate them. Some of these tools include:
- Management Dashboards – these can address the problems of visibility and bottlenecks.
- Verification and Error Handling – most BPMSs include a module which finds and helps solve errors and malfunctions.
- Integration Wizards – these can help integrate the BPMS with common ERP/CRM and other systems, preventing the need for error-prone coding.
- Collaboration Tools – developers who can easily collaborate and view each other’s work are able to help prevent duplication of work and redundancy.
PNMsoft’s SeQuence is a BPM suite which includes enterprise-level tools for meeting these challenges. PNMsoft also includes a unique technology for adapting to change, called HotChange®, which further improves the ability of stakeholders to achieve continual efficiency.
Equally if not more important than the technical solutions is the adoption of an effective BPM Methodology for projects. This methodology should take into account the lifecycle of the BPM project from start to finish, and coordinate the work of all its stakeholders. A good methodology will ensure that attainable goals are set, that management maintains visibility and control of the project, and that the project does not expand beyond its scope. PNMsoft uses Evolutionary BPM Methodology to ensure that BPM projects are executed using Agile principles. This generally leads to quicker BPM projects that achieve measurable success in iterative cycles.