Learn from our process experts on how to define Business Process Improvement (BPI) and Business Process Management (BPM).
Part one of a series.
Many companies embark on business process improvement (BPI) and/or business process management (BPM) programs in an effort to improve their operational performance and drive competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The terms mentioned above are often used interchangeably within an organization or have varying definitions depending on the organization. Centric Consulting has made an effort to bring some clarity to the differences in these concepts.
Prior to understanding the differences, it is important to understand that these concepts are all related to a business process (or workflow). A process can simply be defined as a sequence of connected steps or activities that may span across different people, roles or systems. A process is often visualized with a flowchart.
BPI focuses on increasing customer value through improving quality, enhancing service, reducing costs, and/or increasing productivity of activity or business process. BPI initiatives often leverage well-known techniques such as Lean, Six Sigma, Global 8-D, Theory of Constraints, and/or Rummler Bache. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once (i.e. a new way to manage the business).
BPM is a disciplined management approach and methodology to provide end-to-end process understanding, visibility and control while ensuring effective communication across an organization. BPM combines BPI, performance management and organizational change management with technology to ensure the success and sustainability of process improvements while enabling a process excellence culture. Some organizations discuss BPM as process OR technology, but Centric views BPM as the convergence of process, people AND technology.
BPMS bring technology into the equation by providing a platform to model, manage, optimize and rapidly adjust business processes. These technology solutions are toolkits for solving multiple process-related issues through automation, collaboration and visibility, serving two primary purposes:
- Process-based/Process Improvement Solutions – Build agile “workflow” solutions, leveraging process modeling, process repositories, workflow/ automation and process analysis, to transform specific end-to-end business processes
- Technology Solutions – Provide a workflow engine underneath a custom developed application that offers more robust functionality
BPMS can be viewed as bringing a “process layer” to an organization in order to eliminate the silos of people, data, and applications that business processes generally operate within; in other words, BPM fills the white space between these silos.
Depending on organizational maturity, needs and goals, any of the above concepts can be utilized to improve operational performance in order to address cost, quality, productivity and/or the overall customer experience. BPM is the most transformational of these concepts, encompassing process understanding, visibility, and control.
Writing and contributions by both: Tom Ujvagi and Darren Rehrer.
Darren Rehrer manages Centric’s Business Process Management (BPM) practice where he supports Centric’s multiple offices with BPM business development efforts, solution methodologies and best practices. He has led numerous BPM implementations for clients representing financial services, insurance, manufacturing, telecom and retail/grocery companies. Contact Darren to learn more.
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