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What is business process management?

This article was written by Ma-Keba Frye, SEO Content Writer at MuleSoft.

Gartner defines business processes as the coordination of the behavior of people, systems, and things to produce specific business outcomes. Essentially, when performed structurally, this collection of business activities and tasks contributes to the organization's goals.

What is business process management (BPM)?

Business process management (BPM) is a solution used to automate and improve business processes across people and systems within an organization. Business process management allows organizations to evaluate, measure, modify, observe existing processes, and identify new methodologies. The ultimate goal of a BPM solution is to:

  • Improve efficiency and operational performance
  • Optimize workflows
  • Reduce costs
  • Minimize errors
  • Ensure consistency across workflows
  • Enhance outcomes

Typically, a BPM system has a graphical interface that allows you to model your business processes visually so that a business analyst or other non-programmer can easily understand them and verify that they indeed reflect the reality of your business. BPM is often a fundamental building block of many business functions. For example, it can be applied to managing a single process, like onboarding new customers, or to a significant business transformation that requires implementing completely new methods.

BPM solutions primarily assist business analysts in modeling and optimizing the functions of their organization. These processes are often long-lived, lasting days or weeks from initiation to completion. While they may sometimes be fully automated, in many cases, manual intervention from a business stakeholder is required.

Business process management in action

Manual and repetitive tasks are wasteful of company resources and employees' time. BPM can streamline various processes across industries such as healthcare, insurance, financial services, and transportation. For example, BPM could benefit an employee onboarding process affecting multiple systems such as HR, payroll, and building security. Another example could be a low-volume, high-value eCommerce process where manual intervention is often required to approve the completion of a transaction.

The strength of a BPM solution lies in its ability to orchestrate between different systems, people, and processes to improve the overall function of human-centric business activities. BPM solutions focus on process definition, execution, and monitoring. In this context, BPM solutions are generally optimized for long-running business processes, including manual processing steps.

BPM applications offer immense value and optimization to several departments within organizations and across industries. Some common use cases include:

  • Account opening
  • Claims management
  • Compliance and risk management
  • Customer data
  • Data management
  • Employee onboarding
  • Healthcare and insurance
  • Loan origination
  • Marketing requests
  • Operational efficiency
  • Project management
  • Transportation

The business process management lifecycle

When implementing and managing business processes, the BPM lifecycle is a collection of actions carried out in stages. While the title and number of steps may differ, the BPM lifecycle generally consists of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement, and optimization. Each stage is composed of activities that can improve the efficiency of an organization's operations when carried out.

Business Process Management

Source: Salesforce

Types of business process management

BPM has three categories. While some processes can be completely automated, some require human input.

  1. Human centric: Despite the growing popularity of automation, humans play a critical role in an organization's operations. In a human-centric process, human skills and involvement are prioritized. They do most of the heavy lifting and decision-making regarding the next steps. An example of a human-centric approach is the hiring process. Although today's human resources departments integrate automation into many functions, human intervention is necessary for moving on to the next steps and decision-making regarding candidates.
  2. Document centric: A document-centric process is best suited for organizations where documents play an essential role in the business. This process aims to optimize workflows and stakeholder approvals surrounding a particular document. It can be helpful with activities regarding scanning images, overviews and reports, document reviews and approvals, and more.
  3. Integration centric: This process has little to no human interference. Integration-centric BPM focuses on coordinating different software systems and ensuring that data can flow seamlessly between the networks of tools. A prime example of this process is how marketing and sales tools integrate, such as a CRM and marketing automation platform relaying information regarding lead engagement.

BPM and automation

Business process management and its various tools and applications don’t compete against automation tools, such as robotic process automation (RPA), hyperautomation, and intelligent process automation, business process automation (BPA), and workflow automation. BPM identifies opportunities for improvement in business processes and creates strategic, optimized, and digitally connected workflows. However, advanced automation tools provide the necessary support to execute these changes and streamline processes, push boundaries, and improve business outcomes and output. The evolution of robotic technologies, machine learning, and artificial intelligence help to accelerate digital transformation, greater efficiency, and process optimization for organizations.

Register for Automation 101: Transforming Your Business For Any Future to learn how MuleSoft Automation can help your organization overcome automation-related challenges and obstacles.