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Part 3 of a four-Part Series
Our topic of discussion in the previous article was Information Deployment. This week we will discuss Business Process Management. Corporate strategy changes over time but always requires the alignment of people and processes in order to realize the mission of the organization.
In the past, the Information Technology (IT) department delivered the systems. What is now required is for IT to move beyond a systems focus and coordinate with the people in your organization in what we call Business Process Management (BPM). IT is the medium that transforms ideas into intellectual property.
Process Flow and IT
BPM is the management of well-defined processes from beginning to end. These process are broken into descriptions of activities and tasks that define a business workflow under varying business conditions, such as the steps needed to execute your accounts payables operation. Documenting the workflow for a group of individuals is done using document maps or process maps. However, the IT department needs a lot more than a process map, they need to construct an information map or what some might call a Data Flow Diagram (DFD).
The information map contains the flow of data from one process, activity, or task to another. As opposed to product-flow, information flows (i.e. documents, records or other data) must be described in detail in order for IT to implement the process. Data Flow Diagrams are used to illustrate the sources and uses of data, the data stores (databases), and, of course, the data flows. Information maps are used to describe your Information Deployment strategy.
BPM Software (BPMS)
As you might have guessed, your information maps can get real complicated, real fast. So how do you reduce the complexity? Use software of course. New BPM Software tools have been developed that allow organizations to graphically define their processes, the actual information flows, and add detailed business rules those processes use to process the information. Once all of this information is defined, the software can even execute a simulation using your definitions and show you the results. But that’s not all, the software will also convert your design into a computer language that you can run.
Next, add your process metrics (effectiveness criteria or key performance indicators) along with hooks into your existing applications and the software will monitor the results. Some BPM software applications even interface with metrics databases that allow you to benchmark your performance to the industry.
BPMS is being used at all the major corporations today. To move your IT department into the 21 st century you are going to need to be using some type of BPMS tool. The only question is which one? Next week we will discuss the concept of Accelerating Returns, more recently referred to as ” Moore’s Law”, and the implications of technology on the future of business processes.
To learn more about using process improvement programs for your organization attend the next How to Align a System of People and Processes for Results class. If you are eager to learn more about creating more order out of the chaos you are feeling at work then the How to Create Well-Defined Processes class is right for you. ISO 9000 Quality Auditor classes are forming now for Internal Auditor or Lead Auditor. Call for information on having your own private in-house classes today.
For more information on BPM:
- Active Journal of Business Process Management
- Business Process Management Group
- Business Process Management – the Third Wave
- BPM Today
- Business Process Trends
- Human Interaction Management
- BPM – The Third Wave or BPR Recycled?
This list was retrieved from Wikipedia’s writeup on Business Process Management, which also has a list of vendors that offer software tools for BPM.