Interim Executive Resources

Getting Started With Business Process Management

In today’s business environment it is important to continuously improve the way the business meets customer needs.  It is necessary to make your business stand out from the competition and improve effectiveness over time.  Competition is not constant — it is innovating, evolving and adopting with the times, creating tremendous pressure on an organization to stay ahead of the game.  A good way to ensure you are meeting customer needs and improving internal performance is by adopting business process management to deliver rapid revolution consistently.

Business process management is a decision

Even though business process management (BPM) can help in addressing all the competitive pressures on a company, it is not something that can be taken for granted.  Adopting a BPM methodology is a specific decision that management needs to make and may need to be accompanied with changes in business philosophy.  Many times businesses develop agility through informal practices and individual discretion in their work.  This is not such a bad thing, but as businesses grow in size and complexity there comes a time where standardizing on work methods becomes the best way to ensure customer needs are met while at the same time improving business performance.

Business process management provides the fundamentals on how a business can deliver the right customer value, while also rewarding stakeholders with higher effectiveness, and creating a better place to work for staff.  Successful process management provides information on how people work together to deliver on customer needs and how information technology integrates with people and business operations. Business process management also helps an organization get to peak performance and helps determine how to best deliver on business objectives.

Step one: Business Process Inventory

A team that has made the decision to add BPM  to its capabilities has to find a place to start.  It is a certainty that even though methods being used to meet customer need may not all be written down, they do exist and are what has made the business successful to date.  A great first step is to develop a list of all the critical activities underway in the business and organize it in some fashion.  Through accomplishing this “business process inventory”, a company starts the process of formalizing its work and begins to get a better handle on the complexities inside their operations.

At this stage of the game, it is not necessary to detail the processes themselves, simply identify areas of critical work, identify an owner and keep it granular enough so that the organization does not get lost in too much detail.  A business is rarely successful in jumping in and defining all processes that are running and doing all of the detail work at the same time.  A better practice is to get a high level view of the business, define and organize is in some workable fashion, and then pick one or more critical business issues to tackle by employing business process management methods.

Here is a high level example of what a business process inventory might look like:

Business Process Category Process Name Process Owner(s)
Business Planning Business Plan Development
Budget Commitment
President & COO
Demand Generation Product Planning
Marketing Communications
Funnel Management
VP Marketing
MARCOM Director
VP Sales
Order Fulfillment Customer Order Processing
Purchase Order Management
Supply Chain Logistics
Inside Sale Director
Procurement Director
VP Operations
VP Operations
Product Generation Product Development
Regulatory Compliance
VP Engineering
QA Director
Financial Reporting Revenue Forecasting
Periodic Reporting
Tax Management
VP Marketing

Through accomplishing this major step in moving towards a business process mindset, a business starts to wraps its arms around the variety of activities required to make a business operate, and starts to organize itself around getting into the details required to define and optimize day-to-day practices.

Through applying business process management in carefully selected areas and growing the improvement program over time, you can expect gradual increases in business continuity.  Problems and costs will be reduced, decisions will be made faster, quality will go up and with these effects, a business will gain significant profit improvement as well as enhanced customer satisfaction.