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Technology for Business Process Management (BPM) is meaningless without the management disciplines for BPM. This article provides an overview of BPM as a management discipline and reveals how the intersection between management and IT enhances BPM, supporting an enterprise that achieves competitive differentiation through agile business processes.

To establish a successful BPM discipline, ask yourself the following four questions:

  • Which processes matter? Organizations need a clear understanding and knowledge of critical, differentiating processes.
  • Which processes need to be automated or improved? It's logical for organizations to automate and optimize strategic processes.
  • Who will take charge of automating and improving key processes? Critical processes should have owners who are charged with constantly optimizing and aligning them to the business environment.
  • How will technology support automation and optimization? Supporting IT infrastructure, facilitated through BPM and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), can help to integrate systems and align them while facilitating changes when needed.

BPM discipline involves the deliberate and collaborative definition, optimization, innovation, and management of end-to-end business processes. This discipline, which is increasingly technologically aided, differs from traditional functionally focused management orientations, as it views processes across business units, across product and service offerings, as well as across regions and departments. All these efforts are focused on achieving the goal of agility.

Processes Do Matter!

Business models are the lifeblood of any organization; they represent the fundamental structure that sets the direction for success or failure. Business processes and their associated process steps and business rules are the most elementary building blocks for an enterprise to describe their business model. The web of business processes connecting an enterprise with business partners becomes the command and control center for the business. This control center can function only in an optimized fashion if there's adequate representation of end-to-end process thinking in organizations, which eventually balances the functional focus in today's organizations with the desire to support business processes that impact the business, e.g. ones that touch customers. What's the point of promising to answer all call center inquiries in seven seconds if it takes 23 days to get a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) at home? The functional management approach needs to be complemented by a business process-oriented management approach that takes a holistic view of the business and the ecosystem within which it operates.

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