5W – Business Process Management (BPM)

Thank you for reading! Please see “Why 5W?”  for context, methodology and disclaimers.

BPM Overview

Businesses can make repeatable processes more stable and efficient by engaging with the Business Process Management (BP​​M) paradigm. BPM is a well-defined set of disciplines for breaking down, standardizing and executing the steps in a business process to achieve efficiencies. BPM is a systematic approach to managing and improving processes that drive an organization.

Business process examples include common LOB operations, like:

  • Expense reporting
  • New customer account
  • Customer ordering
  • Fulfillment and logistics

Many industry-specific business operations include:

  • Change management
  • New hire or new partner onboarding
  • Claims and returns

A representative list of BPM use cases can be found on the Appian site.

BPM Business Benefits

BPM is designed to achieve increased efficiency by identifying and streamlining inefficient processes. BPM helps organizations reduce waste, increase productivity and reduce errors. This leads to faster and more reliable service delivery, which can help organizations gain a competitive edge.

An effective BPM implementation leads to cost savings by eliminating unnecessary steps in processes, reducing the time it takes to complete tasks and minimizing the use of physical resources. Once implemented, BPM can help organizations identify other areas where automation or outsourcing may be more cost-effective.

With improved processes, customer service will improve, as organizations can respond more quickly to customer needs and provide a better overall experience. This may manifest itself as reduced wait times for customers, improved order accuracy and enhanced customer communications.

BPM can contribute to the ability of an organization to achieve and manage regulatory and standards compliance. With standardized processes and controls, organizations enjoy normalized output, reducing the time it takes to generate reports for compliance purposes. This can help organizations avoid costly fines and legal issues, and as a bonus: provide an improved reputation in the marketplace.

BPM is a pillar to help organizations improve agility and responsiveness to changing business conditions. Through standardized inputs and processes, monitoring and analysis can occur in real-time, creating opportunities for improvement and making adapt rapidly to improve the chances of success. This can help organizations respond to customer needs more effectively and stay ahead of the competition.

BPM Capabilities

What makes a good BPM offering? Let’s review several key considerations and best practices that exist in the BPM discipline:

  • Automation is a key factor in successful BPM and can be achieved via a wide range of solutions, from home-grown to customizable packaged products. Automation enables repeatable steps that ensure consistent execution and makes troubleshooting easier.
  • Componentization and Reuse are other key factors in successful BPM. The ability to isolate business processes for specific purposes or that are part of a larger interaction makes the BPM system more manageable.
  • A holistic view of supporting (on which the subject process relies) and dependent (where the subject process supports other processes) business processes lends itself to an effective BPM effort.
  • Modeling as close to reality as possible ensures the needs of the audiences of business processes are met.
  • Authority and control to ensure the business processes follow the designed course.
  • Regular measurement interactions and feedback from audiences are a necessity.
  • Once processes are normalized, optimization can be executed on an ongoing basis.

Businesses contend with numerous inefficiencies which lead to unnecessary costs, poor quality and low customer satisfaction. By utilizing BPM and carefully analyzing processes, businesses can discover areas of improvement. Implementing BPM can help increase quality, production and efficiency by cutting out unnecessary procedures and improving vital processes.

BPM means understanding business processes to ensure they run efficiently and are continuously improved. BPM is an activity, a practice or a discipline .. even a journey. It is not a product.

Three main components of BPM:

  • Management Approach: Company management typically defines processes by identifying activities, tracking performance and working toward optimization. Management should look closely at ‘build versus buy’, as many processes are already created and documented, requiring only small modifications, or none at all.
  • Methodology: Deploy a steady cycle of improving business processes, helping businesses advance the efforts in phases, defined activities and best practice techniques.
  • Technology: BPM technology includes software that can map and record business processes to enhance analytics and communication. Technology helps automate activities and track performance.

In essence, BPM technology helps businesses have a clear understanding of various processes within the company in order to boost performance, quality and efficiency.

BPM Use Cases

A few brief samples for review and clarification:

  • Use Case: Expense Report
    • Employee incurs a business expense.
    • Employee completes an expense claim form in an automated system.
    • The form is routed to a manager who will approve or reject the form.
    • If the expense is over a certain amount, it may be routed to a senior manager (many BPs keep a lower-level manager in the loop for visibility).
    • The appropriate manager approves or rejects the form.
    • The approved form is sent for payment -or- the rejected form goes back to the employee for more clarification.
    • The form is sent for payment.
    • A check / credit is issued to the employee.
  • Use Case: Order Entry and Fulfillment
    • A sales representative closes a business deal.
    • The sales representative enters the order into an automated system.
    • The order is routed to a manager who will approve or reject the order.
    • If over a certain amount, the order is submitted into a credit approval process.
      • The sales representative, the manager and a senior manager are notified.
      • Credit approval or rejection will determine a discrete set of tasks.
    • When approved, the order is sent to fulfillment.
      • If a physical product, is routed to an appropriate warehouse; fulfillment intelligence determines which warehouse or if an order needs to be sent to manufacturing.
      • The sales representative, the manager and a senior manager are notified.
      • The customer is notified.
    • The order ships.
      • Singly or in multiple batches.
      • From one warehouse, or many.
    • The invoice is sent to the customer.
      • The sales representative is notified.
      • The order is placed into a periodic (weekly or monthly) report.
      • Accounting is notified of the customer purchase, ensuring a future credit check will take this order and invoice status into account.

Dynamic BPM systems include the logic referenced above, typically based on customer history, internal accounting practices and so on. Alerts keep interested parties in the loop and managers play a keep role in approving or rejecting steps to keep the process flowing.

BPM Providers

BPM providers run the gamut of automation / integration, to use-case-specific components like payroll and expense. The former lot is preferred if an organization has already automated business processes, the latter supports an organization evaluating a BPM roadmap. Your mileage may vary, depending on organizational maturity, incumbent systems, BPM priorities and more. Some companies in the space:

VendorOffering / CapabilitiesNotes
Appian Deployed as a platform with a wide variety of adaptable, low-code integration and automation solutions.
Bonitasoft Open-source BPM platform. Provides a number of self-contained applications and integration components.
blueprisim Now SS&C and blueprism. Offers a wide variety of department-level use cases.
IBMIBM Business Automation WorkflowA cloud-based BPM platform enabled with process automation, decision management, and case management capabilities.
MicrosoftMicrosoft Power AutomatePart of the Power Platform, Power Automate is a cloud-based BPM tool that allows users to automate workflows, create custom business processes, and integrate with other Microsoft applications. Offers a trial.
NintexProcess PlatformOffers a wide variety of pre-built solutions across industries. The Process Platform page has a good overview of the steps management should review as a means to plan their roadmap.  Acquired K2 in 2020.
OracleOracle BPM SuiteA member of the Oracle Business Process Management Suite, BPM is a complete set of tools for creating, executing, and optimizing business processes.
PegaPega Platform Data Integrations Security and ComplianceDeployed as a platform with a wide variety of adaptable, low-code integration and automation solutions. Offers a number of pre-built BPM solutions.
Zoho A platform filed with a wide variety of pre-built LOB applications.

ED: As Article Publish dates are frozen in time, it is quite possible reviewed vendors and their capabilities may have advanced beyond those presented herein. Please accept my apologies for my shortcomings. A note to vendors: please reach out to advise your current offering capabilities and I will update.

BPM Audiences

BPM will provide benefits to virtually any company. A few industry examples and benefits:

  • Manufacturing can deploy BPM to improve production processes, reduce waste and ensure product quality.
  • Financial institutions can deploy BPM to improve regulatory compliance, automate back-office processes and increase efficiency.
  • Healthcare can optimize patient care processes, reduce administrative burden and improve patient outcomes.
  • Retail can deploy BPM to optimize supply chain processes, manage inventory and improve customer service.
  • Educational institutions can deploy BPM to optimize student enrollment processes, improve administrative efficiency and enhance student outcomes.
  • Technology companies can deploy BPM to optimize software development processes, improve project management and increase efficiency.
  • Transportation companies: BPM can help transportation companies optimize logistics processes, reduce transportation costs, and improve customer service.

When offering a BPM solution to a prospect, consider these audiences and their motivation to deploy BPM:

  • Business leaders like the CEO, CIO and CTO typically make the final decisions, but unlikely the conversation will start with them. With that said, being prepared to speak with these audiences once an engagement has worked up the chain is a critical factor for success. They will be most interested in BPM because it can help them realize strategic goals such as improving efficiency, reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction. They will not be interested in the ‘how’, or ‘when’ (with the exception of ASAP) .. they’ll just want it completed, on time and under budget.
  • Operations managers are interested in BPM as standardizing business processes will help them operate more efficiently by reducing waste and improving productivity.  By automating routine tasks and freeing up employee time, businesses can focus on more strategic initiatives and drive innovation.
  • IT professionals are interested in BPM beyond implementation: BPM enables the use of technology to automate processes and improve efficiency. IT will prove to be an active audience as BPM is rolled out, so their support is critical.
  • Compliance officers will see value in BPM as enacting stringent standards and practices for data collection will help them ensure that the organization can meet regulatory requirements and best practices.
  • Employees will embrace BPM as it automates time-consuming and repetitive tasks, leading to a more efficient and productive workplace. Getting employees on board is an important factor in a BPM effort. Involving employees during the scoping process will improve chances of success as employees can provide field-level experience: what are the good things about current processes, in what areas can BPM assist most effectively, and so on.
  • Consultants and analysts are interested in BPM because it is a growing field that provides opportunities for consulting engagements, research and analysis.

Any organization with business processes in any state is a candidate for a BPM discussion.


Business Process Management can provide a wide range of benefits to organizations, including increased efficiency, cost savings, better customer service, improved compliance, and agility. By implementing BPM, organizations can gain a competitive edge, reduce costs, and improve their overall performance.

%d bloggers like this: