What is BPMS?
The Business Process Management Suite (BPMS) is an automation tool that helps analyze, model, implement, and monitor business processes. It identifies vulnerabilities in everyday business practices that are costing the company time and money and helps control them. Through this, it increases the efficiency of the company’s employees.
Processes like account management, employee hiring, invoicing, inventory management, and compliance documentation (which involve a lot of complicated data management) can be automated using BPMS.
Where Can Organizations Use BPMS?
BPMS is applied to processes in an organization to produce a business outcome. The process must be repeatable or done on a regular basis such as hiring an employee, shipping a package, paying salaries, or managing compliance certificates, licenses, accounts, invoicing, customer service, IT, and finances. The goal is to reduce error and latencies due to human errors.
Some common uses for BPMS in day to day business life include enhancing purchase order processes, optimizing content marketing workflows, and managing healthcare outcomes:
Enhancing Purchase Order Processes
In the course of purchase orders being fulfilled, sometimes a number of necessary details can be lost along the way. This causes a great deal of confusion, wasted time, and a loss of productivity. There are a few major stages of a purchase order, and data can get lost at any point along this journey:
- The creation of the purchase order and the approval process it goes through
- The processing of the order
- The delivery of the order
- The payment procedures completing the process
Any organization dealing with bulk orders knows the importance of having a fool-proof system to keep the flow of orders moving. Businesses are at a massive risk when they do not do so. This is where BPMS comes into the picture to ensure that the entire process is seamless and does not meet any road blocks (or loss of data) along the way.
Content marketing can seem quite straightforward—know the product and the client, develop messaging, create the content, and send it out. However, there is much more to it than that. The average content marketing process goes through a long cycle:
- Writing out content to match a brief, often multiple options
- Editing, which goes through a hierarchy and to different departments
- Designing to ensure better branding
- Publishing material and distributing it across various media
- Monitoring content’s effect and collecting analytics and insights.
BPMS solutions ensure there is a smooth workflow from one segment to another. It also offers all those involved the ability to spot any redundancies as well as inefficiencies and work on fixing them to ensure better results.
Hospitalization can be quite traumatic for patients. Any disruptions in the admission and discharge process only adds to this distress. The admission process alone has several stages, ranging from information collection, obtaining medical records, insurance details, and room preference. Generating bills happens in conjunction with several departments—from nursing to surgery to house-keeping to ancillary medical needs and more. BPMS processes ensure that details are not forgotten or missed during the various stages. Efficiency is increased, the patient is cared for and experiences less stress, and no processes are missed.
Types of BPMS
BPMS system can be broadly classified into three types:
- Integration-centric BPMS: This system handles existing processes that require minimal or no human interaction. It depends on the integration of computer and internet-based applications. For example, the data used by a sales team might be obtained by integration of data received from a marketing tool that stores it in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Though the information is used by one team, it has been derived from an integration of multiple points.
- Human-centric BPMS: This is a more direct approach where humans are the decision makers at each step. They are, however, guided by a visual interface to understand the decision-making process better. An example of this is the hiring of an employee. At each step—from posting a request for hiring to reviewing the request and processing by the HR department—the process is completely done by humans.
- Document-centric BPMS: This process is completely driven by a process document. It requires multiple approvals at each point of the workflow. An example of this would be a budget approval that requires approval at multiple levels is a document-centric BPMS.
How does BPMS work?
Efficient BPMS requires not just improvement of processes but also automation of those processes, which is all handled by software. This software projects the entire process workflow and tests it in a virtual environment, while assuming variables and outcomes and identifying bottlenecks and eliminating them. The newly tested process is then deployed. The BPMS doesn’t stop there. From here on, it continuously monitors the workflow for effectiveness and efficiency.
BPM Suite workflow is based on the business process management steps: analysis, design, modeling, execution, monitoring, and optimization.
This is the process of studying the existing practices and analyzing them for latencies. Every aspect of the workflow is analyzed and metrics are put in place for comparison. This initial version of the process is called ‘as is.’
This process involves correcting the flaws and latencies of the ‘as is’ processes by designing a more efficient workflow. The design aims to correct the workflow and the processes within that lead to bottlenecks and inefficiency. It targets all the alerts and escalations within the standard operation processes and corrects them with a more efficient process.
The design is now represented in a flowchart by fixing accountability and redundancies at each process. It introduces conditional loops like ‘if’ and ‘when’ with variables at each point to determine different outcomes from the old processes, such as steps to take when the target output isn’t met or if the outcome of the previous step is satisfactory.
Ideal business modelling tools should be easy to read, simple to communicate, inexpensive, up to date with industry standards, and have redundancies in place. The model should have a graphic interface and a workflow editor and simulator. This model of the process is called the ‘to be’ process.
After successfully modelling and simulating the workflow design, the next step is to execute the process. It is tested on a smaller group before deploying it to larger groups. Access restrictions are put in place to protect sensitive information. These processes are either automated or manual.
Here, the individual processes are tracked and statistics are derived. Performance at each step is analyzed to determine its effectiveness. It also helps identify bottlenecks and security vulnerabilities. Various levels of monitoring can be used, depending on the information the business wants. It can vary from real-time to ad hoc. Monitoring involves process mining, where event logs are analyzed and compared between the current process and the previous process. It exposes the discrepancies and bottlenecks between the two processes.
This is the step where the data obtained from monitoring is analyzed and any changes that are required are implemented to make the workflow more efficient.
Features of an Ideal BPMS
The objective of BPMS is to automate as much of the business as possible and run it efficiently for long term benefits. However, a badly designed and unintuitive software could do more damage than good. An ideal BPMS must have the following features:
- User friendly interface for the process design
- An intuitive and simplified process diagram
- Cloud-based storage for better stability and reliability
- Dashboards and reports that are customizable and integrated
- Automated real time alerts.
Challenges of BPMS
Like with most businesses moving to automation, the biggest challenge will be reliability of the software to come up with the right solutions. An effective BPMS will be simple to use and will not need additional services to decode its analytics.
Challenges in Maintenance and Upgrade
Most of the traditionally packaged BPMS are hard to maintain and upgrade. They require additional training by experts and an in-house talent to maintain and decode. This becomes more expensive and unreliable than what it was originally intended to do. They come with a one-time purchase, and license upgrades come at a steep cost. These packages can become difficult to maintain and upgrade and are often not intuitive with the market conditions. They will also need specialized people operating it at all times, making it unreliable on a long term basis.
Cloud-based BPMS tools overcome all these challenges as they are based on a software as a service (SaaS) model. This makes it easy to set up and deploy. Data can be accessed anytime from anywhere with round the clock support. Since the cloud-based tools come with a subscription instead of a one-time license cost, it allows a company to try it on a smaller scale before expanding. This makes it more cost-efficient compared to traditionally packaged tools.
Challenges of Multiple Features
BPMS with too many complex features are also something to avoid. This will again require the organization to undergo additional training and cost management to use these aspects of software. Too many features can also lead to issues with integration. Complex features make it not just difficult to understand the software but difficult to integrate with other platforms like MS Office Suite, G Suite, or other management suites. Integration is critical to decode the information generated for analytics or basic decision-making. It aids in communicating analytics and other reports generated without needing additional intervention.
Cloud-based solutions allow users to streamline the number of features by allowing them to opt out of unneeded ones. These can be added or removed at any time, which is a more budget-friendly option.
Challenges in Acquiring a Well-Designed Suite
Another key challenge is to get good, intuitive design. A simple interface makes it easier for all stakeholders to weigh in on decision-making without having to involve additional talent to decode the information. Too many features requires many users to decode it.Similarly, too little features in the design oversimplifies the decision making process and might not give accurate results.
The idea of BPMS is to simplify business processes and make them more efficient. The design of the process should not just allow every stakeholder involved to take control of setting up their tasks, it should also be without coding with a functional dashboard and user-friendly interface.
On-premise options will not have proper post-sales customer support. These are sold as one-time packages with limited upgrade options. The time spent training for this package will be for nothing when the technology changes. Integration should be a key functionality of a BPMS. Information and data in any organization moves across systems and departments, so pre-integration with platforms such as MS Office, G Suite, accounting, and HR suites is ideal for decoding and understanding the BPMS data.
While the idea of BPMS is automation of processes across departments, too many flowcharts and maps force the entire system to function like a heavily-programmed robot. The aim should be to allow the user to map the processes according to their point of view using a visual model. This allows the system to manage more complex processes rather than rigid yes or no rules that limit outcomes. The systems should follow a more human-centric workflow.
Automation is the key goal when implementing a BPMS. Even though BPMS is a system and not a specific software or hardware, individual technology plays a big part in making BPMS more efficient and effective. The software automates most of the parts of BPMS like modelling and monitoring. It eliminates the cost of employing and maintaining specialized skill sets for this purpose. Having a software do all this heavy lifting also makes it easier to be mobile with the technology without many overheads. An ideal BPMS should make processes simple, intuitive, automated, and seamless for all stakeholders and users.
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