Business process management

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Business process management (BPM) has been referred to as a "holistic management" approach[1] to aligning an organization's business processes with the wants and needs of clients. BPM uses a systematic approach in an attempt to continuously improve business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. 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. [2] These processes can impact the cost and revenue generation of an organization. As a managerial approach, BPM sees processes as strategic assets of an organization that must be understood, managed, and improved to deliver value-added products and services to clients. This foundation closely resembles 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.[3] In fact, BPM offers an approach to integrate an organizational "change capability" that is both human and technological. As such, many BPM articles and pundits often discuss BPM from one of two viewpoints: people and/or technology.

BPM or Business Process Management is often referred to[by whom?] as 'Management by Business Processes'. The term "business" can be confusing as it is often linked with a hierarchical view (by function) of a company. It is therefore preferable to define BPM as "corporate management through processes". By adding to BPM the second meaning of 'Business Performance Management' used by August-Wilhelm Scheer in his article "Advanced BPM Assessment",[4] BPM can therefore be defined as "company performance management through processes".

Changes in BPM[edit]

Roughly speaking, the idea of business process is as traditional as concepts of tasks, department, production, and outputs..[citation needed] The management and improvement approach as of 2010, with formal definitions and technical modeling, has been around since the early 1990s (see business process modeling). Note that the IT community often uses the term "business process" as synonymous with the management of middleware processes; or as synonymous with integrating application software tasks. This viewpoint may be overly restrictive - a limitation to keep in mind when reading software engineering papers that refer to "business processes" or to "business process modeling".

Although BPM initially focused on the automation of business processes with the use of information technology, it has since been extended[by whom?] to 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 deploying human intuition or judgment, these steps are assigned to appropriate members within the organization.

More advanced forms such as "human interaction management"[5][6] 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 sometimes regarded as 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[citation needed] - 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 - define the goal of the change
  • measure - determine the appropriate measure to determine success
  • 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 just on 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.[7]

As of 2012 research on BPM has paid increasing attention to the compliance of business processes. Although a key aspect of business processes is flexibility, as business processes continuously need to adapt to changes in the environment, compliance with business strategy, policies and government regulations should also be ensured.[8] The compliance aspect in BPM is highly important for governmental organizations. As of 2010 BPM approaches in a governmental context largely focus on operational processes and knowledge representation.[9] Although there have been many technical studies on operational business processes both in the public and in the private sector, researchers have rarely taken legal compliance activities into account, for instance the legal implementation processes in public-administration bodies.

BPM life-cycle[edit]

Business process management activities can be grouped into six categories: vision, design, modeling, execution, monitoring, and optimization.

Business Process Management Life-Cycle.svg

Functions are designed around the strategic vision and goals of an organization. Each function is attached with a list of processes. Each functional head in an organization is responsible for certain sets of processes made up of tasks which are to be executed and reported as planned. Multiple processes are aggregated to function accomplishments and multiple functions are aggregated to achieve organizational goals.


Process design encompasses both the identification of existing processes and the design of "to-be" processes. Areas of focus include representation of the process flow, the factors within it, alerts & notifications, escalations, standard operating procedures, service level agreements, and task hand-over mechanisms.

Good design reduces the number of problems over the lifetime of the process. Whether or not existing processes are considered, the aim of this step is to ensure that a correct and efficient theoretical design is prepared.

The proposed improvement could be in human-to-human, human-to-system or system-to-system workflows, and might target regulatory, market, or competitive challenges faced by the businesses.

The existing process and the design of new process for various applications will have to synchronise and not cause major outage or process interruption.


Modeling takes the theoretical design and introduces combinations of variables (e.g., changes in rent or materials costs, which determine how the process might operate under different circumstances).

It also involves running "what-if analysis" on the processes: "What if I have 75% of resources to do the same task?" "What if I want to do the same job for 80% of the current cost?".


One of the ways to automate processes is to develop or purchase an application that executes the required steps of the process; however, in practice, these applications rarely execute all the steps of the process accurately or completely. Another approach is to use a combination of software and human intervention; however this approach is more complex, making the documentation process difficult.

As a response to these problems, software has been developed that enables the full business process (as developed in the process design activity) to be defined in a computer language which can be directly executed by the computer. The system will either use services in connected applications to perform business operations (e.g. calculating a repayment plan for a loan) or, when a step is too complex to automate, will ask for human input. Compared to either of the previous approaches, directly executing a process definition can be more straightforward and therefore easier to improve. However, automating a process definition requires flexible and comprehensive infrastructure, which typically rules out implementing these systems in a legacy IT environment.

Business rules have been used by systems to provide definitions for governing behaviour, and a business rule engine can be used to drive process execution and resolution.


Monitoring encompasses the tracking of individual processes, so that information on their state can be easily seen, and statistics on the performance of one or more processes can be provided. An example of the tracking is being able to determine the state of a customer order (e.g. order arrived, awaiting delivery, invoice paid) so that problems in its operation can be identified and corrected.

In addition, this information can be used to work with customers and suppliers to improve their connected processes. Examples of the statistics are the generation of measures on how quickly a customer order is processed or how many orders were processed in the last month. These measures tend to fit into three categories: cycle time, defect rate and productivity.

The degree of monitoring depends on what information the business wants to evaluate and analyze and how business wants it to be monitored, in real-time, near real-time or ad hoc. Here, business activity monitoring (BAM) extends and expands the monitoring tools generally provided by BPMS.

Process mining is a collection of methods and tools related to process monitoring. The aim of process mining is to analyze event logs extracted through process monitoring and to compare them with an a priori process model. Process mining allows process analysts to detect discrepancies between the actual process execution and the a priori model as well as to analyze bottlenecks.


Process optimization includes retrieving process performance information from modeling or monitoring phase; identifying the potential or actual bottlenecks and the potential opportunities for cost savings or other improvements; and then, applying those enhancements in the design of the process. Overall, this creates greater business value.[10]


When the process becomes too noisy and optimization is not fetching the desired output, it is recommended to re-engineer the entire process cycle. BPR has become an integral part of organizations to achieve efficiency and productivity at work.


Currently the certification is being offered by Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM) the Syllabus and Certificate is recognized, approved and managed by the International Accreditation Organization (IAO)

BPM suites[edit]

Forrester Research, Inc recognize the BPM suite space through three different lenses:

  • human-centric BPM
  • integration-centric BPM (Enterprise Service Bus)
  • document-centric BPM (Dynamic Case Management)

However, standalone integration-centric and document-centric offerings have matured into separate, standalone markets.

Gartner's Magic Quadrant (published 27 September 2012) identifies 10 core components of an intelligent BPM suite, including predictive analytics and robust rules management.[11]


Example of Business Process Management (BPM) Service Pattern: This pattern shows how business process management (BPM) tools can be used to implement business processes through the orchestration of activities between people and systems.[12]

While the steps can be viewed as a cycle, economic or time constraints are likely to limit the process to only a few iterations. This is often the case when an organization uses the approach for short to medium term objectives rather than trying to transform the organizational culture. True iterations are only possible through the collaborative efforts of process participants. In a majority of organizations, complexity will require enabling technology (see below) to support the process participants in these daily process management challenges.

To date, many organizations often start a BPM project or program with the objective to optimize an area that has been identified as an area for improvement.

In the financial sector, BPM is critical to make sure the system delivers a quality service while maintaining regulatory compliance.[13][14]

Currently, the international standards for the task have limited BPM to the application in the IT sector, and ISO/IEC 15944 covers the operational aspects of the business. However, some corporations with the culture of best practices do use standard operating procedures to regulate their operational process.[15] Other standards are currently being worked upon to assist in BPM implementation (BPMN, Enterprise Architecture, Business Motivation Model).

BPM technology[edit]

Some define the BPM system or suite (BPMS) as "the whole of BPM." Others relate the important concept of information moving between enterprise software packages and immediately think of service-oriented architecture. Still others limit the definition to "modeling" (see business modeling).

BPM is now considered a critical component of operational intelligence (OI) solutions to deliver real-time, actionable information. This real-time information can be acted upon in a variety of ways - alerts can be sent or executive decisions can be made using real-time dashboards. OI solutions use real-time information to take automated action based on pre-defined rules so that security measures and or exception management processes can be initiated.

These are partial answers and the technological offerings continue to evolve. The BPMS term may not survive. Today it encompasses the concept of supporting the managerial approach through enabling technology. The BPMS should enable all stakeholders to have a firm understanding of an organization and its performance. The BPMS should facilitate business process change throughout the life cycle stated above. This assists in the automation of activities, collaboration, integration with other systems, integrating partners through the value chain, etc. For instance, the size and complexity of daily tasks often requires the use of technology to model efficiently. These models facilitate automation and solutions to business problems. These models can also become executable to assist in monitoring and controlling business processes. As such, some people view BPM as "the bridge between Information Technology (IT) and Business."[citation needed]. In fact, an argument can be made that this "holistic approach" bridges organizational and technological silos.

There are four critical components of a BPM Suite:

  • Process engine – a robust platform for modeling and executing process-based applications, including business rules
  • Business analytics — enable managers to identify business issues, trends, and opportunities with reports and dashboards and react accordingly
  • Content management — provides a system for storing and securing electronic documents, images, and other files
  • Collaboration tools — remove intra- and interdepartmental communication barriers through discussion forums, dynamic workspaces, and message boards

BPM also addresses many of the critical IT issues underpinning these business drivers, including:

  • Managing end-to-end, customer-facing processes
  • Consolidating data and increasing visibility into and access to associated data and information
  • Increasing the flexibility and functionality of current infrastructure and data
  • Integrating with existing systems and leveraging emerging service oriented architecture (SOAs)
  • Establishing a common language for business-IT alignment

Validation of BPMS is another technical issue that vendors and users need to be aware of, if regulatory compliance is mandatory.[16] The validation task could be performed either by an authenticated third party or by the users themselves. Either way, validation documentation will need to be generated. The validation document usually can either be published officially or retained by users.

Cloud computing BPM[edit]

Cloud computing business process management is the use of (BPM) tools that are delivered as software services (SaaS) over a network. Cloud BPM business logic is deployed on an application server and the business data resides in cloud storage.


According to Gartner, by 2016, 20% of all the "shadow business processes" will be supported by BPM cloud platforms. Gartner refers to all the hidden organizational processes that are supported by IT departments as part of legacy business processes such as Excel spreadsheets, routing of emails using rules, phone calls routing, etc. These can, of course also be replaced by other technologies such as workflow software.


The benefits of using cloud BPM services include removes the need and cost of maintaining specialized technical skill sets in-house and reducing distractions from an enterprise's main focus. It offers controlled IT budgeting and enables geographical mobility.

The details of this are still emerging.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ vom Brocke, J.HKVJH & Rosemann, M. (2010), Handbook on Business Process Management: Strategic Alignment, Governance, People and Culture (International Handbooks on Information Systems) (Vol. 1). Berlin: Springer
  2. ^ Ryan K. L. Ko (2009). A computer scientist's introductory guide to business process management (BPM), ACM Crossroads 15(4), ACM Press
  3. ^ Managing Performance Through Business Processes, Dominique Thiault, ISBN 978-1-4680-2890-4
  4. ^ A.W. Scheer, Professor Scheer’s Advanced BPM Assessment, IDS Scheer AG, 2007
  5. ^ Keith Harrison-Broninski (2005-04-03). "Human Interaction: The Missing Link in BPM (Part I)". Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  6. ^ "HIM". Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  7. ^ Coupling BPM with Six Sigma
  8. ^ Gong, Y. and Janssen, M. (2011). From policy implementation to business process management: Principles for creating flexibility and agility. Government Information Quarterly, 29 (Supplement 1), Pages S61-S71, Elsevier.
  9. ^ Apostolou, D., Mentzas, G., Stojanovic, L., Thoenssen, B., & Lobo, T. P. (2010). A collaborative decision framework for managing changes in e-Government services Government Information Quarterly, 28(1), Page 101-116, Elsevier.
  10. ^ S-Cube Knowledge Model: Business Process Optimization.
  11. ^
  12. ^ NIH (2007). Business Process Management (BPM) Service Pattern. Accessed 29 November 2008.
  13. ^ Business Process Management in the Finance Sector. Accessed 16 July 2008.
  14. ^ Silveira, P., Rodriguez, C., Birukou, A., Casati, F., Daniel, F., D'Andrea, V., Worledge & C., Zouhair, T. (2012). Aiding Compliance Governance in Service-Based Business Processes. IGI Global. pp. 524–548 
  15. ^ NTAID (2008). Invoice Processing Procedures for Contracts Accessed 17 September 2008.
  16. ^ "Guidance for Industry. Part 11, Electronic Records; Electronic Signatures — Scope and Application" (PDF). Food and Drug Administration. August 2003. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  17. ^ "1st International Workshop on Business Process Management in the Cloud". KIT. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Roger Burlton (2001). Business Process Management: Profiting From Process. ISBN 0-672-32063-0
  • James F. Chang (2006). Business Process Management Systems. ISBN 0-8493-2310-X
  • Jay R. Galbraith (2005). Designing the Customer-Centric Organization: A Guide to Strategy, Structure and Process. ISBN 0-7879-7919-8
  • Jean-Noël Gillot (2008). The complete guide to Business Process Management. ISBN 978-2-9528-2662-4
  • Paul Harmon (2007). Business Process Change: A Guide for Business Managers and BPM and Six Sigma Professionals. ISBN 978-0-12-374152-3
  • Keith Harrison-Broninski (2005). Human Interactions: The Heart and Soul of Business Process Management ISBN 0-929652-44-4
  • John Jeston and Johan Nelis (2008) Management by Process: A roadmap to sustainable Business Process Management. ISBN 978-0-7506-8761-4 and Business Process Management: Practical Guidelines to Successful Implementations (2006) ISBN 0-7506-6921-7
  • Ryan K. L. Ko, Stephen S. G. Lee, Eng Wah Lee (2009) Business Process Management (BPM) Standards: A Survey. In: Business Process Management Journal, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Volume 15 Issue 5. ISSN 1463-7154.
  • Martyn Ould (2005). Business Process Management: A Rigorous Approach. ISBN 1-902505-60-3
  • Terry Schurter, Steve Towers. Customer Expectation Management: Success Without Exception". ISBN 0-929652-07-x
  • Howard Smith, Peter Fingar (2003). Business Process Management: The Third Wave.
  • Andrew Spanyi (2003). Business Process Management Is a Team Sport: Play It to Win! ISBN 0-929652-02-3
  • Wil van der Aalst, Kees Max van Hee (2002). ″Workflow Management: Models, Methods, and Systems″ ISBN 0262011891, 9780262011891
  • Alec Sharp, Patrick McDermott (2008). ″Workflow Modeling: Tools for Process Improvement and Applications Development″ ISBN 1596931930, 9781596931930
  • Arthur ter Hofstede, Wil van der Aalst, Michael Adams, Nick Russell (2010). Modern Business Process Automation: YAWL and its Support Environment, ISBN 978-3-642-03121-2
  • Wil van der Aalst and Christian Stahl (2011). "Modeling Business Processes" ISBN 9780262015387
  • Mathias Weske (2012). ″Business Process Management: Concepts, Languages, Architectures (Second Edition)″ ISBN 978-3-642-28615-5
  • Bruce Silver (2011). ″BPMN Method and Style: With BPMN Implementer's Guide″ ISBN 1596931930, 9781596931930
  • Wil van der Aalst (2011). "Process Mining: Discovery, Conformance and Enhancement of Business Processes" ISBN 978-3-642-19345-3
  • Marlon Dumas, Marcello La Rosa, Jan Mendling, Hajo A. Reijers (2013). ″Fundamentals of Business Process Management″ ISBN 978-3-642-33142-8, 978-3-642-33143-5

External links[edit]