Business Process Management (BPM)
Business management informatisation ensures a coordinated support of functions and processes involved in management activities using information technologies.
To support processes involved in all types of management activities, a unified and becoming more popular management approach called business process management (BPM) can be used. It combines methods, tools, and principles for implementing projects.
The basic standard used to model business processes is BPMN 2.0 (Business Process Modeling Notation). It was developed by Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) and is maintained by the Object Management Group.
BPMN is designed both for technical specialists and business users. The language uses a basic set of user-friendly elements that allow to define complex semantic constructions. The BPMN 2.0 specification is executable and interoperable (i.e. a process created in one editor from one producer can be executed by a business process engine of the other producer, provided that it supports the BPMN 2.0 standard).
The main idea of a BPM system is quite simple: we describe a business process, design its diagram, then start it, and monitor its execution using special software. The peculiarity of the BPM solution is that the business process is described in the language that can be executed directly by this special software. Using this mechanism, we can create the information environment that allows to initiate processes, issue step-by-step tasks to the process participants, monitor their execution, and ensure communications between the participants.
A typical BPM system consists of a standard set of components corresponding to the stages of a business process lifecycle, including design (planning), execution (registration), and monitoring (control, analysis, and regulation).
A BPM system structure includes:
Designing, execution, and monitoring.
Designing is the development of business process diagrams using a graphics editor.
The procedure of creating a business process model is as follows: drawing steps, describing business logic, defining groups of participants and a list of data entered at each step.
Designing is the development of business process diagrams using a graphics editor. A business process diagram or template is, in other words, a route, regulation, or plan of the process. A capability to model business processes using s graphics editor is a major peculiarity of the BPM system. Any business process shall be designed by a business analyst without the involvement of a programmer. The procedure of creating a business process model is as follows: drawing steps, describing business logic, defining groups of participants and a list of data entered at each step, specifying functions that should be executed at each stage and time for such execution, etc. The result is saved to the server. Now the process can be initiated.
The core of a BPM system is its engine. It initiates instances of business processes, monitors changes in their statuses, stores variable values and executes business rules. Someone compared the business process diagram to the musical score that helps to play a beautiful melody. The BPM engine is a mechanic piano playing this score.
The key element of a BPM system’s user interface is a personal task list, i.e. the list of functions and initiated instances of business processes assigned to this user or a role group he belongs to.
This is where the functional and process aspects of activities unite. At a specified point of the regulations (process), it is necessary to execute the required function.
It is worth saying that the function is executed in the form of some action, e.g. launching a web service, creating a record in an EMR, issuing an invoice, phoning someone and then reporting to the engine that the task has been completed.
The BPM system monitors business processes in two ways:
- For each business process instance, a dynamically generated graph of the process diagram is displayed; it shows all completed steps and reflects the execution of the current step.
- The BPM system accumulates valuable statistical data on the parameters of the business process execution, including intensity (the number of instances per week or month), duration (a period between the process initiation and completion), and load on individual specialists (the number and duration of completed tasks). Bearing in mind that processes contain regulations (time for each step of the process), breaches of standard technologies can be monitored, analyzed, and regulated.
As a rule, BPM systems provide basic sets of reports on business process indicators. Based on them, KPI (Key Performance Indicators) can be determined, which, in turn, can be tied to a Balanced Scorecard (BSC).
Important note: In functional management, a standard management cycle of planning-registering-controlling-analyzing-regulating is applied to the system of statistical or economic production indicators reflecting the result of activities performed by the enterprise. In process management, a management cycle is applied to the attributes of the management processes themselves.
In other words, when using BPM technologies in business management, we formalize processes (interaction, making decisions, performance of regulations) executed by managers of all levels and make them ‘monitorable’.
Business processes are changeable. They are influenced by changes in external conditions and company's own wish to achieve better performance. A BPM system used to automate management activities creates an adaptive system enabling the company to change continuously and ensuring high-quality management in a dynamic environment of modern society.