A business process can be anything from processing a customer order, to opening a new account or on-boarding a new employee. It is the set of steps taken in our day to day work activities that is performed to accomplish a desired outcome.
Business Process Management has multiple facets from the improvement of a single process to the 'holy grail' of managing a company by 'process' rather than by function. For example, rather than measure a given department's spending, you would measure how quickly and cost effectively the overall organization (including cross functions) bring new products to market, how effective your lead-to-sale conversion is, or how quickly you can hire or on-board new employees. With this in mind let’s start with defining business processes and how they align to the value delivered to customers.
Types of Business Processes
There are different levels or types of business processes. There are 'Super processes' which include management processes, operational processes and supporting processes. Operational processes – also considered 'core value streams' or 'primary processes' are those processes that are central to the design, production and delivery of a company’s products and services. A key concept in BPM is to focus on optimizing the “value stream” or the processes that collectively deliver value to the customer.
Super processes then are generally broken down into high level business processes. For example, the Employee Lifecycle Management super process can be unpacked into several business processes such as Recruiting, Employee On-boarding, Benefits Management, Performance Reviews and Employee Exit. These high level business processes in turn can be broken down into workflow level processes which are the detailed activities performed to complete each process as depicted by the Performance Reviews workflow to the right. Understanding how day to day work activities ultimately roll-up to high level processes and super processes is fundamental to the establishment of metrics and alignment of work activities to strategic goals and business objectives.
There are many workforce and business system inefficiencies today that lead to poor quality of service, unnecessary costs as well as customer and employee satisfaction issues. These and other problems can often be tied to poor understanding, measurement and control of day-to-day work activities- (AKA business processes).
As a business discipline, BPM can can be applied to large and small organizations alike, from a single process to a company wide program covering all processes. It's goal is the improvement of processes as well as the measurement and management of processes with or without the aid of software technology (BPMS). Using a variety of BPM methodologies and analysis techniques that we will cover, you probably have a very good shot at improving your business from the institution of the resultant improved process(es).