A holistic management approachfocused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. BPM attempts to improve processes continuously. It can therefore be described as a "process optimization process." It is argued that BPM enables organizations to be more efficient, more effective and more capable of change than a functionally focused, traditional hierarchical management approach.
A business process comprises a "series or network of value-added activities, performed by their relevant roles or collaborators, to purposefully achieve the common business goal."These processes are critical to any organization, as they can generate revenue and often represent a significant proportion of costs. As a managerial approach, BPM considers processes to be strategic assets of an organization that must be understood, managed, and improved to deliver value added products and services to clients. This foundation is very similar to other Total Quality Management or Continuous Improvement Process methodologies or approaches. BPM goes a step further by stating that this approach can be supported, or enabled, through technology to ensure the viability of the managerial approach in times of stress and change. In fact, BPM is an approach to integrate an organizational "change capability" that is both human and technological.
Roughly speaking, the idea of business process is as traditional as concepts of tasks, department, production, and or outputs.The current management and improvement approach, with formal definitions and technical modeling, has been around since the early 1990s (see business process modeling).
In the IT community, the term 'business process' is often used as synonymous of management of middleware processes; or integrating application software tasks. This viewpoint may be overly restrictive - a limitation to keep in mind when reading software engineering papers that refers to "business processes" or to "business process modeling".
Although the initial focus of BPM was on the automation of business processes with the use of information technology, it has since been extendedto integrate human-driven processes in which human interaction takes place in series or parallel with the use of technology. For example (in workflow systems), when individual steps in the business process require human intuition or judgment to be performed, these steps are assigned to appropriate members within the organization.
More advanced forms such as human interaction management are in the complex interaction between human workers in performing a workgroup task. In this case, many people and systems interact in structured, ad-hoc, and sometimes completely dynamic ways to complete one to many transactions.
BPM can be used to understand organizations through expanded views that would not otherwise be available to organize and present, such as relationships between processes. When included in a process model, these relationships provide for advanced reporting and analysis. BPM is regarded by someas the backbone of enterprise content management.
Because BPM allows organizations to abstract business process from technology infrastructure, it goes far beyond automating business processes (software) or solving business problems (suite). BPM enables business to respond to changing consumer, market, and regulatory demands faster than competitors- creating competitive advantage.
As of 2010 technology has allowed the coupling of BPM to other methodologies, such as Six Sigma. BPM tools allow users to:
Vision - strategize functions and processes
Define - baseline the process or the process improvement
Model - simulate the change to the process.
Analyze - compare the various simulations to determine an optimal improvement
Improve - select and implement the improvement
Control - deploy this implementation and by use of User defined dashboards monitor the improvement in real time and feed the performance information back into the simulation model in preparation for the next improvement iteration.
Re-engineer - revamp the processes from scratch for better results
This brings with it the benefit of being able to simulate changes to business processes based on real-life data (not assumed knowledge). Also, the coupling of BPM to industry methodologies allows users to continually streamline and optimize the process to ensure that it is tuned to its market need.