BPM and BPR—The power of optimized business processes

Lukasa Insights

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The power of optimized business processes

“What is business process management?” asks a recent CIO Magazine article. 

Their answer: business process management—defined as “the practice of discovering and controlling an organization’s processes to align them with business goals as the business evolves” —is “the key to enterprise agility.”

Before we dive into why this is true, let’s define business processes themselves as sets of activities that help an organization achieve specific outcomes and reach goals. Each process generally includes people, technology, and a huge array of tasks.

Your business processes’ effectiveness, individually and collectively, is critical to the success of your enterprise. Inferior, disjointed, outdated processes (including workflows, rules, tools, etc.) create chaos and bottlenecks, prevent you from being flexible and nimble in a rapidly evolving digital economy, and ultimately inhibit your company’s efficiency, productivity, and profitability. 

The reality, for many companies, is that their business processes are not only not optimized— they were never truly developed and honed in a systematic way in the first place. They’re simply based on “the way things have always been done” in the organization, says CIO, or are dictated by software choices; perhaps they’ve been tweaked and patched here and there and are now a tangle of legacy systems. As such, these processes are far less effective and efficient than they need to be, and hamper the enterprise’s ability to be responsive in the modern business environment. 

Business process management (BPM) is a structured approach to ensuring that your organization’s operations and processes work seamlessly. 

BPM is a broad term, however. The actual scope of the discipline can be wide or narrow. It may encompass an entire system of interdependent processes or zero in on a particular process within a company’s larger ecosystem. In either case, BPM centers on automation and optimization of processes to maximize efficiency, drive productivity, minimize waste and errors, and reduce costs. 

BPM is necessarily dynamic—it deals with systems that must keep pace with the constantly changing demands of our digital business climate. At the same time, BPM is reciprocally enhanced by burgeoning technologies such as AI, ML, and advanced analytics. 

Frequently employed as part of an organization’s comprehensive digital transformation initiative, BPM is a strategy for driving modernization forward. It grew out of our digitally-focused, data-driven economy, in which there are vast amounts of information to be managed, and the operations needed to stay competitive (or even functional) are increasingly complex—far beyond what’s possible to do manually—thus, BPM’s focus on automation. 

Earlier eras of process evaluation and improvement were primarily associated with the “back office.” The modern technologies of BPM began in the 1990s with a suite of tools launched by Gartner, which applied software solutions to those business processes. In today’s customer experience-driven market, however, BPM is thought of as an overarching discipline that utilizes specific technologies, tools, and strategies to integrate operations across disparate parts of an organization and create end-to-end seamlessness in processes.

While BPM can incorporate a vast range of techniques and advanced tools, it applies a fairly consistent and straightforward 5-step methodology, known as the BPM lifecycle:

  1. Design/Analyze. BPM begins with defining how the process should ideally function, then analyzing it in its current state to identify areas that need improvement. 
  2. Model. Create a visual representation of the optimal process model, including tasks, timelines, data flow, etc., and consider how it will operate in various scenarios.
  3. Execute. Implement improvement solutions, including standardization and automation; conduct a test within a limited group. Communicate with stakeholders, incorporate feedback, then introduce solutions more broadly.
  4. Monitor. Track improvements and pain points.
  5. Optimize. Continually fine-tune, and make ongoing improvements.

Over time, however, even meticulously planned and managed business processes can pile up and get knotty. So it’s important to conduct systematic reviews to ensure you’re maximizing efficiency and ROI. 

Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) may be seen as the sixth step in the BPM lifecycle.  In a sense, it’s the follow-up or further honing of BPM, which puts an organization’s current processes under a microscope—analyzing and redesigning as necessary to radically improve efficiency, speed, output, quality, and cost-effectiveness, while eliminating waste and redundancies.

Many enterprise leaders have experienced the frustration, roadblocks, and financial burden created by a piecemeal approach to BPM and BPR, perhaps working with multiple firms that each manage only one part or phase of the modernization process. Ultimately, the success of BPM and BPR relies on a holistic view—it starts with your company’s values and objectives, and aligns every process, and the whole ecosystem, accordingly.

The veteran business process and technology experts at Lukasa take a partnership approach to every project. Working side-by-side with your team, we gain a comprehensive understanding of your enterprise’s goals, operations, pain points, and culture. We analyze and reimagine your business processes as a whole, zeroing in on what you want to achieve and which modernization strategies and technology tools will get you there. We’re with you on the entire journey— providing business strategy, implementation, and ongoing support.

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Lukasa empowers small-to-medium-sized businesses by designing and implementing custom business and technology solutions that drive efficiency, productivity, and innovation, enabling them to stay ahead in today’s rapidly-changing competitive landscape.