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What Is Business Process Management (BPM)? What is BPM? It can make the difference between success and failure in business. Read on to find everything you need to know.

By Dan Bova Edited by Dan Bova

There are best practices, standard operating procedures and several types of processes in the business world. Processes help maintain order and provide guidelines for a smooth workflow. They are what makes businesses tick.

One of the essential tools a business can utilize is business process management (BPM). Keep reading to find out everything you need about what it is, different types, benefits and use cases.

Related: The 10 Golden Rules of Effective Management

What's the definition of BPM?

Business process management is a broad-scope end-to-end process that includes methods that promote discovery, modeling, analysis, improvements and optimization of business processes.

While it might sound similar to task or project management, BPM offers a more extensive scope. Task management zeroes in on individual tasks and project management is a one-time work process; business process management is an end-to-end repeatable process.

A successful BPM can streamline workflow, increase efficiency and reduce costs.

The best business process management systems:

  • Incorporate advanced analytics.
  • Monitor all business activity.
  • Utilize decision-making management.
  • Coordinate employees.
  • Synthesize systems.
  • Maximize pertinent information to accelerate digital transformation.

Related: 5 Project Management Systems to Streamline Your Business Processes

What are the types of BPM?

Three core types of business process management are used to create efficiency in the workplace.

1. Integration-centric

Integration-centric BPM focuses on the processes that are mainly outside of human involvement, like application programming interfaces (API) that allow businesses to automate and standardize processes for departments, including human resources management (HRM) and consumer relationship management (CRM).

For example, an ecommerce website can use a platform or software to automate its fulfillment and shipping processes, meaning that the interface would complete the task from ordering to the warehouse to shipping.

BPM focuses on end-to-end processes, and an integration-centric process can improve efficiency and agility while reducing the risk of error in the operation.

2. Human-centric

Human-centric business process management focuses on the people of the business, including their satisfaction, motivation and engagement. Processes must be user-friendly, efficient and effective to provide a positive user experience.

This sector of BPM is essential because it is employees that make a company what it is. This process helps shape the company's culture by fostering continuous improvement through feedback and adjustments.

For example, involving employee teams when implementing a new process allows you to get their opinions and troubleshoot kinks in the system. Not only can this make for a more effective system, but it can also make employees feel valuable and satisfied. Employees who enjoy their positions and feel appreciated are more likely to be productive and loyal to their company.

3. Document-centric

Businesses must keep accurate and efficient documents, and document-centric BPM exists to manage the flow of paperwork. BPM is an end-to-end operation, and document-centric means focusing on different stages of paper-based processes so the correct information is always available to the right people.

Document-centric BPM can include digitizing paper documents, adopting document management systems and using electronic signatures or other document automation processes.

For example, when an employee receives an invoice, BPM includes managing it from receipt to approval and ensuring the right people see it along the way.

Related: 5 Things Disruptive Startups Must Consider When Setting Up Business Processes

What does the lifecycle of BPM look like?

One of the most critical aspects on the ground floor of business process management is making sure there are defined steps.

When each step is defined, it is easier for team members to identify flaws and track improvement through data at each phase. Clarity promotes better business outcomes.

Take a look at the six lifecycle steps below.

1. The planning process

When brainstorming a new process, a clear plan must be laid out at the beginning. Strategic planning should identify organizational goals and analyze the current processes to use as a starting point for improvement. There are three processes to explore, including:

  • Primary processes: These are the core processes that make an organization tick, including product development and sales.
  • Secondary processes: These support the primary processes through business operations like supply procurement, HR, IT and facilities.
  • Management processes: Management observes and analyzes primary and secondary processes to create more efficiency throughout the planning and execution.

Related: Learn Product Management Secrets with This Bundle

2. Analyze organizational processes

Once you have figured out business goals, you must analyze the current processes to see which parts do and do not align with those goals.

You should use both qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques to get the whole picture before moving forward.

Related: 4 Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals in 2023

3. Design the ideal model

Depending on the analysis, during this step, you will either design an entirely new BPM or make some tweaks to promote the efficiency of your current BPM.

Once you have decided what needs to be changed, it's time to examine how to create it. This is a mini-process in itself, which includes the following:

  • Identifying what the work will entail.
  • Decide how many workers you will need and from which specialty.
  • Decide on tools, techniques and methodologies.
  • Create a step-by-step process for the work.

4. Implement necessary change

After the new process has been created, it will need to be implemented. Ensure clear guidelines and expectations for this change and a feedback process.

Related: 3 Ways Change Leaders Prevent, Minimize and Manage (or Create) Resistance to Change

5. Monitor new BPM

While it would be great to create a new process and let it be, that is not the reality of BPM.

You must manage, monitor and track how the new process is working, if it is creating more efficiency and track business metrics to show progress. Set up a calendar by which you check processes to promote consistency.

6. Refine new BPM, repeat

As you figure out how the new process works through progress monitoring, refine it as you see fit. Continue repeating the six steps whenever a new process needs to be made, or changes are necessary for a current operation.

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Corporate Learning Initiatives

What are the benefits of business project management?

BPM promotes the organization of a business and its procedures. Because of the organizational strategy, BMP benefits include:

  • Creating a company culture of adaptability.
  • Increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Generating revenue growth.
  • Potentially reducing costs.
  • Boosting overall employee morale.
  • Offering stronger security.
  • Creating an accountability norm.
  • Improving the reliability of the information.
  • Promoting employee productivity.
  • Increasing overall business efficiency.
  • Providing consistent data and analysis.
  • Making scaling a more straightforward task.
  • Promoting regulation compliance.

Related: Building An Executive Management Team: The How-To

How can you use BPM for your business?

Business process management must be a part of your organizational structure to promote business efficiency. From functions of management and employee engagement to staffing and corrective action, there must be processes in place.

Not only must those processes exist, but they must be updated consistently to maintain alignment with an organization's goals. If you are looking to boost your business strategy, then BPM is the first place to start.

Are you interested in learning more about management tools, business initiatives and more? Visit Entrepreneur.com for everything you need to know.

Dan Bova

Entrepreneur Staff

VP of Special Projects

Dan Bova is the VP of Special Projects at Entrepreneur.com. He previously worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Maxim, and Spy magazine. His latest books for kids include This Day in History, Car and Driver's Trivia ZoneRoad & Track Crew's Big & Fast Cars, The Big Little Book of Awesome Stuff, and Wendell the Werewolf

Read his humor column This Should Be Fun if you want to feel better about yourself.

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