Navigating your business processes can sometimes feel like being stuck in a maze. We explain how a business process management tool can illuminate the path to success.
A few months ago, I found myself in a tight spot. It was last fall, and my wife, kids and I found ourselves an hour deep into a corn maze with no signs of getting out.
We had planned to go through the maze together, but my son and I got separated from my wife and daughter. Insisting we each knew the right way to find each other separated us even further. It took us quite some time to find each other again. Once we got back together, we realized we still didn’t know where we were or where we needed to go.
We had no map, and we all thought we were in different places. We had to admit that we were lost.
Like in business, we needed an easier way for members of our team to interact and share what they learned. A business process management (BPM) tool, like Nintex workflow or Appian, helps you draw collective knowledge and eliminate excess noise to clearly see a map for the way out.
Now, I’d like to tell you we stuck it out, built a map and came out of the maze using our grit and integrity. But in reality, we cheated and pushed our way through the corn stalks.
In business, cheating processes is easy, but it’s not sustainable. You might have tried the “easy” solution to your process problem: throwing bodies at it. You might have also learned that doesn’t lead an agile business toward continuous improvement.
When you build a map, the maze not only becomes enjoyable, but you make it out all in one piece. If my family and I had understood the maze’s layout, we could have worked better as a team and gotten out fair and square.
Your team needs a way to understand your systems and processes and how they can best interact together. A business process management tool offers this and more. And you can use it to drive gains in operational efficiencies.
Let’s look at three ways a business process management tool benefits your company.
1. Promotes Understanding and Simplification
Understanding and simplifying are all about identifying processes you want to enable and then using process excellence practices to streamline those before putting them into a system. For example, a request and approval for professional training there are inputs such as attendees, costs and travel requirements. Outputs for the request could be an approval or a summary of learnings.
Mapping the process may seem simple enough, but there may be different approvals needed depending on our seniority, the price of the training or how many attendees there will be. A great way to start your BPM journey is by building business rules, creating process maps wireframing user interfaces and identifying data gaps.
After understanding your processes, you can simplify it using your BPM tool. For example, you can build user and system tasks using visual drag and drop methods. This creates a process map inside of the tool that orchestrates what actions and events happen and how you can direct them.
When you simplify your interface, your business associates can interact with the fields and information that they need when they need it in their preferred format.
Instead of rebuilding systems and databases to meet new enhancements, you can interact with data where it lives without large architectural changes or data migrations. This systematization improves how and when systems and users interact with the data, leading to well-informed users and leaders.
2. Allows for Automation
Automation is orchestrating tasks and data flow between systems and associates. The biggest benefit of a business process management tool is automating the handoff between systems and users. This could look like associates going to a BPM system and seeing data from multiple systems. They interact with the BPM system and it automatically applies changes or approvals to the separate systems. This eliminates sharing files and information via email, paper or disparate systems.
Your BPM tool also automates your business rules so that with a simple configuration, individual users (members of your team) don’t have to make minute decisions. For example, you could set auto-approval thresholds on purchase order amounts or create dynamic task routing rules. This way, your team can move more quickly and with synchronized standards.
A BPM tool also offers automatic escalation – by notifying supervisors and managers and bringing them into the process before someone breaches a service level agreement.
Automating these steps uses low-code automation, so you don’t need intensive IT resources to build or simplify your workflow.
3. Optimizes Your Processes
Optimization happens by viewing process metrics and identifying areas of improvement. Now that your process workflow is in a system, you can measure interactions within that system to gain process reports and metrics.
Based on those metrics, you can identify tasks taking up a lot of time and resources and determine areas for improvement. This step could result in sending more resources and optimizing or automating these specific tasks to bring resource needs down. One example of using these metrics to identify processes with high exception rates. The system can identify why there are so many exceptions and make recommendations about what to change.
BPM tools give insight into business processes that allow you to pivot according to your business needs. However, it’s not a one-and-done implementation, as your processes will change alongside your business.
We understand it can be intimidating trying to understand, simplify, automate and optimize all of your business processes. After all, a maze is supposed to be rewarding – not a terrifying experience that makes you swear off all mazes. With a business process management solution, you can confidently tackle another, larger and more difficult maze.