Business Process Management: Important or not?

If you never thought Business Process Management (BPM) was important, now is the time to rethink! Here’s why…

In these trying and challenging times, represented by a “new normal”, it has never been more important to understand where time, effort & cost is being expended in the creation of your products or, the delivery of your services.

There are many varied definitions of Business Process Management but put simply it’s the means by which you ensure that all your resources, whether manual or automated, are effectively & efficiently aligned with your business strategy. In using a quote from Gartner to describe it further, it is

“the discipline of managing processes (rather than tasks) as the means for improving business performance outcomes and operational agility. Processes span organizational boundaries, linking together people, information flows, systems, and other assets to create and deliver value to customers and constituents.”

No matter what type or size of business operated, the need for fast, efficient, cost effective and geographically agnostic operations has become more important than ever.

The challenges from the recent (and regrettably ongoing) COVID-19 pandemic have illustrated operational challenges for all sizes and types of companies: from product & service delivery, paper files and manual work allocation procedures and even simple collaboration and communication standards across geographically dispersed teams; making operational governance harder than ever.  All have combined to add overhead and contribute to lost business and increased cost to daily operations. 


So how do you prepare for the brave new world?

Does this mean you need to rush out and buy a Business Process Management toolset or suite? Absolutely not. Does it mean you need to undertake a formal review of your operational processes, controls and practices? Absolutely!

Now is the time to take a good long hard look at how business is transacted within your organisation; are the right people performing the right and necessary tasks at the right time, with the right tools? Is there a minimum of delay between handoffs? Are your business processes as easy and efficient as they can be? Are the operational & quality controls in place to ensure on time, budget & quality delivery of your products or services? If not, stop, think and reflect on what can be done to streamline your operations.

Yes there are large scale processes and methodologies, such as Six-Sigma or Lean Six-Sigma that may need to be adapted, and a full Business Process Reengineering exercise may be required – but more often than not – some fairly simple changes can reduce the number of hand-offs, increase operational & quality controls, reduce or minimize production delays and can ensure that all actions add value to the delivery of the final product or service – and if the processes don’t do this, then cut them out.

Never has this been so obvious as in today’s climate.  Remote working has been with us for many years, but a ‘virtual company’ with any number of employees that isn’t used to it, really illustrates inefficiencies and their economic impact.  

Let us provide you an example: In an office environment, it may not be obvious that Sally passes a file to Dave to complete some work, who then passes it back to Sally to finish it.  As you’re aware, paper files are relatively easy to pass around an office or over a cubicle wall – but not so if the cubicle doesn’t exist.   Without the right collaboration tools, in either a fully virtual or hybrid-remote environment (where either Sally or Dave may be working at home due to operational restrictions) and no electronic copy of the file exists, or the current state of work in progress can’t be tracked to even know who’s on point. Are you able to see if Sally or Dave are working efficiently; is their throughput & quality at the level it needs to be, how do you even manage this remotely?  

For some Manager’s, the thought of not being able to see their staff in person brings heart palpitations! How can they determine whether they are working hard or not? To whom should the next piece of work be allocated?

The insight that a BPM review brings, allied to a potential BPM toolset, removes this stress as full insight can be provided as to the state of work in progress as well as that which is awaiting processing and/or ready for delivery.

Integral with the operational aspects is telephony; the ability to collaborate securely online in real-time with customers, coworkers, suppliers & partners, co-authoring documents or spreadsheets or simply answering a customer’s call or fulfilling an order need to be performed securely, remotely & seamlessly. 

Depending on the systems and tools in use there may be operational, licensing or security restrictions on using the software required to run the operation on equipment other than that owned by or located in the company premise.

New architectural models for deployment and support of systems may be required to better support the virtual or hybrid operation, increased use of cloud-based systems or services, and the use of virtual desktops to aid remote administration.  All these factors need to be taken into consideration to ensure that the front-line workers, customers & suppliers can obtain the operational support they require when working remotely.

If you’re shy of resources or prefer a guiding hand – consulting firms, such as Systematix can help provide that insight – from a high level assessment, to supporting your internal teams – all the way through to the detailed recommendation/implementation of an appropriate BPM toolset,  simply designed to help you understand the architectural and operational options you have.  Everyone should ensure your organisation has the flexibility and agility to succeed in this “new normal”.


A five-stage approach

We recommand a five-stage approach, which is simple, straightforward, and easily DIY:

  • Understand your business strategy, goals & objectives.
  • Understand current operational processes, bottlenecks, challenges, opportunities & alignment to business strategy (above).
  • Design operational improvements, assess automation opportunities, provide flexible practical and pragmatic recommendations.
  • Implement approved approach & tools providing for a self-sustainable model upon completion of the exercise.
  • Provide support to control & improve processes on an on-going basis. (Optional).

So, the message is simple: Take stock of what you do today and what challenges you have faced during the abrupt and sudden transition to a virtual or hybrid operation.  Use Stephen Covey’s approach of “start with the end in mind”. 



About the author

Andrew Wood has over 30 years of International business and technology experience within the Insurance Industry.  Currently based in Toronto, Andrew has held CIO roles for several of Canada’s largest insurers, and currently is Vice President / Insurance for Systematix. Andrew is Six Sigma Green Belt certified and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute.