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Business Process Management – Continuous Improvement

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BPM or Business Process Management refers to a management approach and the software technology that enables it, BPM aims to deliver continuous improvement based around the needs and expectations of customers. As BPO and outsourcing providers examine ways to add strategic value to their client relationships, BPM may offer significant value in the development of outsourcing relationships.

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?

Business Process Management

During slow economic times businesses try to find ways to maximise outputs while improving efficiencies and reducing costs. Though many of the principles behind BPM have been around since the early nineties the concept has only really taken off and seen broader adoption since the last recession.

BPM is about establishing an environment within the business to drive continuous improvement across all aspects of the business, based on the needs and expectations of customers. “ Business process management (BPM) is a systematic approach to making an organization’s workflow more effective, more efficient and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment.”[i]

How does BPM differ to other management approaches such as Six Sigma?

At the heart of Six Sigma is the acronym DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control). Aimed at reducing waste and improving efficiencies in an organisation’s business processes, Six Sigma has been used extensively in manufacturing, distribution and utilities. John Parker from Enfocus Solutions stated in a recent article, “Six Sigma’s objective is to make business processes more predictable and stable so as to minimise variation in outputs, thereby delivering process improvement”[ii].

“BPM has been applied mostly in paper intensive industries such as health care, insurance, finance, utilities and government. These businesses rely on human knowledge, databases, and process flows to produce an end result, such as a home loan or business license”.

BPM provides the infrastructure to support person-to person, system-to-system, person-to-system and system-to-person interactions by automating data collection, storage and processing. Where Six Sigma focuses on process improvement, BPM is more geared towards process management.

Even though there is significant cross over between the two philosophies, they are not mutually exclusively. They can in effect be integrated to provide a more comprehensive approach for improvement.

What does it offer the BPO and outsourcing industries?

As the BPO industry evolves and becomes more geared towards adding strategic value, the principles behind BPM become more compelling.

BPM can offer clarity around identifying and mapping out business processes and sub-processes. But more importantly it provides a roadmap for continuous change and discovers where strategic value can be delivered by a BPO or outsourcing arrangement.

Business Process Management Technology

According to Global Industry analysts the BPM software market will be worth $US 5.3 Billion by 2017.

BPM makes electronic and digital what used to be flow charts scribbled on white boards or sketched out on notepads. This method allows child, or subordinate, processes to be more easily mapped and taken over by contracted outsiders in jobs such as loan processing, application support, or claims processing, according to experts.

BPM should allow providers to offer more specialised and tailored services to the market, as well as allowing for greater control in the management of outsourcing relationships and their strategic outcomes.


July 4, 2013
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