Business processes are a collection of structured and related activities that are combined and coordinated to help in production of goods and services that comply with the needs of customers or clients. Such processes are treated with a lot of attention in any organization because they help in generating revenue. They are also processes that are associated with significantly high costs to the business, thus the special concentration. It is very essential in a business venture to give critical attention to both revenue and costs aspects because they determine the status of the business as well as its continuity.
If the business does not balance well costs and benefits, the business may suffer from insolvency or make abnormal benefits. The later is not a common case because lack of genuine management in most cases leads to inefficiencies that are later converted to business costs then to business losses.
Since business process management is an attempt to achieve efficiency, it principally tackles the efficiency that should be employed in the production process. It therefore talks of technology and people as factors of production that should be given the first priority in the attempts of seeking efficiency. Therefore, business process involves concepts like output, production, department and managerial tasks. Because of the diversity in the business environment of the world, business process has extended to include formalities, improvements and technical modeling to accommodate and adapt to the changes the world is experiencing.
Business process management is a large field of business management that primarily directs its attention to organizational alignment to the needs, wants and expectations of the clients they are dealing with. It is considered a holistic approach geared at promoting and encouraging efficiency and effectiveness of a business venture that is striving to attain flexibility, innovation and at the same time integrate all these components with technological advancements.
This area of management is considered necessary because as organizations struggle towards their set goals and objectives, it is necessary to have a driving tool that oversees the whole chain and cycle of production. Business ventures that do not apply efficiency of the highest order are finding themselves out of the operational verge because of the competition that is throwing weak business out of the market. The weaknesses are arising in areas of management, production, human resources management and response to new technologies and customers’ desires.
The tastes and preferences of modern clients are changing with globalization diffusion rate which is determining the trends of products and services to be produced, their pricing criterion, their quantity and their quality. The dynamics of these components determining the path of business operations have called for properly coordinated business process management mechanism that can facilitate a rapid response and adaptation to any changes that arise (Hiles, Barnes, 2001, p.23)
The recent business process management ideology has extended its domains and frontiers beyond automating the mechanized business process after realizing that this is an issue that should not be narrow focused, but an issue involving wide perspective. It is a process that should intensively involve all sectors in the production process since they all contribute to the welfare or downfall of the entire business venture. The process has thus gone to the extend of integrating human driven processes that enhance the so called work flow systems.
This discovery was initiated by the fact that human beings interact in parallel or in series with the mechanized or automated systems within the production sector. The work flow systems require the involvement of human judgment and human intuition to give directions and discretions upon the running of the business ventures and enterprises. It is the business process managers who are entitled the responsibility of assigning the appropriate human work force to their respective areas of specialization to enable the achievement of efficiency of the highest order. High level of efficiency in business means high levels of output, profits and low costs which are brought about by high quality products.
Activities in business process management
Business process management is characterized by a number of activities which it should perform within its boundaries and functions as the prime business coordinator. These activities include optimization, monitoring, execution, modeling and designing. In business process management, the designing activity involves identifying the present processes and at the same time develop the so called to be processes. The later are processes that the management views shall be applicable and more efficient if applied in future. They are the processes that may be used to replace the existing ones, but with a big aim of driving the business to better and more profitable zones.
To come up with a good and extensive design, the business process management should focus on elements such as task hand over mechanisms, service level agreements, standard operating procedures, escalations, notifications and alerts, actors within the system and representation of the process flow. The great goal of process design is to make sure that the number of problems that face the organizations are minimized during the course of its lifetime. It thus emphasizes on preparing efficient and correct theoretical design.
After realizing the best and appropriate design, adjustments are then proposed and effected depending on the nature of the business. These adjustments may be human to system, human to human or system to system workflows. They may target the market, the regulatory framework or else address the challenges of competition that the business may be undergoing (Golann, 2006, p.29).
The second activity in business process management is business modeling. It encompasses taking the developed theoretical design and then considers its compatibility with other variables within the business system. The variables to which their combination with the theoretical design can be correlated include an increase in rent, a change in the cost of materials or inputs or determine the flexibility of the process s the ability to operate and adjust to different circumstances that may come along the way.
This stage is an alternative based stage, that utilizes the what if concept. It thus gives a wider dimension of viewing the existing processes and the available alternatives. Ti suggests for adoption and incorporation of alternatives that may outdo the available and working processes in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.
The third activity within the business process management is execution. Execution is a process encompassing the judgment of the required steps that have to be implemented in the management process. This happens because not all proposed procedures are health to the business and have to be adopted. Some of the suggested alternatives may be harmful to the business for they may be costly in terms of resources and time. Some may also need high levels of manpower ability or technology that may be out of the organizations hand of grip. It is through the execution process when critical analysis of these processes is done.
It is also advisable that this execution gives each and every suggested move equal weight. This avoids dropping off of viable and potential processes that may in turn propel the business venture forward. Careful considerations should therefore weigh the impacts from both sides of view and thus conserve the accuracy and completeness of the whole process. This stage should employ human interventions to avoid complications of the documentation process.
However, if the business venture in question is large, a combination of software and human intervention can be employed to make processing easier. This enables the full business process through the use of computer language that can undergo a direct execution by other computers. Therefore execution process involves legacy of IT environment because of the requirement of comprehensive and flexible infrastructure in the direct execution process (Hiles, Barnes, 2001, p.35).
The other important activity in business process management is monitoring. It involves monitoring individuals and processes to track their performance and level of service provision and delivery within the organization. The information required in this area may include tracking the state of a customers order, whether it arrived, whether it is awaiting delivery or whether the invoice accompanying a certain transaction has been paid. If this information is availed, identification and correction of problems can be easily done and help the business prosper. Tracking and reacting to any difficulties that may be existing.
The system helps to improve the connectedness of suppliers and customers. The efficiency attributed to monitory activities can be considered in the time taken in processing a customers order or the number of orders that have been processed within a specified amount of time. The measure taken to streamline these processes may fall under productivity, defect time or cycle time. The degree to which the monitoring activity takes place depends on the information to be evaluated and analyzed. It will also depend on the style of monitoring the company proposes, ad-hoc or real time specifications.
The other vital aspect in business process management is optimization, a very common goal of many business organizations. It is a stage which is performance oriented, giving its whole attention to the benefits and costs implicated by the business processes adapted to. It thus retrieves information on process performance at the preceding stages of monitoring and modeling phases. It is a stage dominated by analysts who are qualified in identifying actual or potential bottlenecks of the proposed and executed business processes during the former times (Golann, Barnes, 2001, p.44).
This group of persons also identifies potential rooms and alternatives that can lead to improvements within the system both in the structural makeup and in human resource development. The interesting aspect of optimization stage is that it makes judgments that are based on the rate of productivity that has been realized but not on projections basis. They are therefore engaged in activities that are concerned with value cycle within the business process management.
Benefits of business process management
Out of the above descriptions, business process management may be said to be a subset of administrative and infrastructural concerns aiming at optimizing and maintaining organizational core operations and equipments. Business process management is a concept in management that has been massively implemented around the world inoder to facilitate a leverage of automating both current and future business processes. It is believed too be the key towards maximizing and magnifying organizational revenue of income and the level of quality of services that are produced and availed to consumers.
The attention to this business management program has been intensified by the essentiality automation of business processes and the popularity of the tools employed in the processes of business management. Activities like analyzing, monitoring, automating, improving business processes and modeling help the business to realize good profits within a short range of time (Golann, 2006, p.21).
Another benefit tie to business process management is that the models employed visualize transactions that take place within the organization itself as well as business to business transactions. This makes the decision making process of the business diverse and put into consideration both exogenous and endogenous aspects of the business. Ignoring the external elements that affect performance of a business in term of profitability and efficiency is a wrong attribute. This is because they may lead to significant drawbacks that may even lead to the business closure.
To avoid this predicament, business process managers gives an eye to the further end of the world that may challenge the business activities be it internally or externally. Leave alone considering internal flows, business process management concentrates further on the flows from one business to another. This coverage makes sure the flow system which the company is following is commercially compatible with the flow the other business they are attached to expects. If the internal flow in not in line with business to business expectations, then a slag will erupt within the system and therefore challenge the business activities. The models of this type of management employ data that originates from both outside and inside the company.
A lot of interpretations that are not based on real data do not conform totally to the real scenarios, but serve as projection or estimation elements. Business process management is seen as a real and active tool that describes and analyses statistical relationships the way they are on grounds. This is why his type of management has highly been credited for it is real and living. Its ability to collect data from outside sources is a special character as this enhances a quick detection of any default and in the quickest time possible give a rapid response to rescue the business from any operation upsurge or demolish.
The world believes that disparities that occur in the decision making processes on daily basis result because of lack of the real data of the items in consideration. Business process management facilitates this by first enhancing a strong social fabric with the outside organization, a strategy that allows them a comfortable access to their information and data, which is then used by the management and policy makers of the organization (Golann, 2006, p.34).
Cases have been reported that the discrepancies that have for along period of time limited achievement of goals in the limitation of the available information and data. Business process management has undergone a quick adoption because it is extensive in its data and information collection activities. Activities of business process management address issues not only concerned with physical equipment coordination but also with human factors organization. The information used in business process management and jurisdiction process is data and information intensive, describing all organizational aspects in full. This makes this type of management special and highly generative in terms of income.
Each and every organization is committed to performing distinct roles which are presumably generative, oiling the organization to move forward. This means streamlining the workforce is a very important component in any organization. Business process management helps in managing, automating, executing, creating and defining all activities either internal or on business to business basis.
The documentation of this program can facilitate a multi user repository. As a result, both non technical and technical persons are availed in business running activities. These persons understand all categories of processes that take place in each and every department within the organization. They also understand the outcomes and performance of business processes that are practiced within or outside the organizational boundaries (Hiles, Barnes, 2001, p.63).
Business process management is not tied to any particular type of business, but it can be employed in several sectors. For example, it is widely pronounced in the life insurance industry. The activities which are aligned to this process in life insurance include customer service executive scrutinizing an application form received from a customer, data entry operators performing data entry in core insurance systems, underwriters underwriting the application and finally back office staff dispatching and issuing insurance policy document. It is a type of management that consists of both manual and automated systems of operation. This process offers an enterprise with a wide vision process in management and also provides a software layer that runs and integrates all entrepreneurial applications.
Tools of business process management
The system of business process management runs together with a set of tools which enable system and process analysts, process supervisors, process champions and process performers to improve, manage, execute and automate business processes. One of the tools used is the process definition tool. It is a tool that geographically drags and drops various issues in the process of defining the business process. The process can be defined in terms of information flow, business rules and activity flow. This tool is used by process analysts as the kick off tool.
It is thus vital laying the foundation from which the whole business venture is built from. The tool which follows the above sated in the process simulation tool. Simulations are acts that are made to reflect the real life situation or applicability of the processes developed. It is a tool which makes drives analysts to perform real life judgments, resource requirements and process bottlenecks before it is fully implemented.
This environment permits process analysts to predict and thus overcome challenging business issues right from the initial stages of design time. This tool makes sure that the organization sets only the goals which are achievable by all means and alleviates formulation of policies that are made to flop immaturely (Hiles, Barnes, 2001, p.79).
Thirdly, a tool known as application development toolkit is vital in making the business process progressive. This is a software that enhances all efforts towards building forms of user interface, putting in place integration of the process engines that conserve the servers of rule and work flow. It thus harmonizes all business applications that are deployed beyond or within the boundaries of an organization. It was developed as set of tools to limit system development efforts to the system developers.
This tool is accompanied at close range with workflow and rules server. This is the tool used in execution purposes in most business processes that aspire to excel. It is used during the execution of business rules, information flow and activity flow. I is a tool that gives assignments to human performers depending on the flow of activity, rules that are well institutionally well defined and that are believed to inter operate with the other back end systems (Hiles, Barnes, 2001, p.98).
The fifth tool is the process execution user interface, which is used by process performers to provide a run time environment. The ultimate obligation of this software is to allow the initiation of process interfaces, carry out the assigned tasks and view the associated priorities and tasks. This tool is applied together with process management toolkit. It essentially provides performers monitoring application, process activity, analytical tool and query application. The analytics tool and query applications are entirely utilized in addressing the needs of process champions and process supervisors.
Process supervisors are the staff made to perform monitoring of the way various process parameters perform. After getting this information, the supervisors are now in position to sermon any corrective measures in a proactive manner or else facilitate exemptions. Process champions on the other hand is that staff that deal with data matters. It only advocates for business performance criterion after analyzing the areas which require improvement, an improvement for the entire process.
To make this action efficient and realistic, this tool employs mechanism to support importation of data from the environment of production to the environment of simulation. The last tool which is believed to conclude the others and handle them collectively is the system administrator module. It is a tool that gives an opportunity to system administrators in configuring servers, performing user and access rights management and monitoring server performance (Golann, 2006, p.45).
Business process management is not a process that smooth runs day in day out. It is rather a process that faces many challenges. Since it is a process covering a wide section of business operations, it should thus be facing the most enormous challenges than the other processes. These challenges force the policy makers in this area to be very careful in their activities. Foe example, in the process of executing sales order, a hiring decision has to be escalated.
A decision has also to be made regarding the records to be kept and deciding the price to be assigned to every product. The decision about whether the business process to prevail is explicit or implicit should come out clearly. Most of activities in business process management are coordinated from IT section. Logistics application from this section can be used to enhance transport of commodities.
People are categorized as informal components in business activities, and are therefore processes concerning them are considered informal. The informal processes are developed to accompany the whole business process because most of the activities are run and coordinated by human beings. If not well taken care off, informal processes can be too expensive because any pitfall in human resources means that the whole business venture runs an overhaul.
As employees gain experience, use their own knowledge and change jobs, they interact fully with the system that is governing them. The process should thus be clear before they learn it to create a sense of commitment and attachment to these obligations after it dawns on them (Hiles, Barnes, 2001, p.134).
To make sure the business process management is acknowledged and accepted, it should be formalized. Formalizing the process will spell out the coordination systems; define steps, exempt handling and also exempt handling. With these aspects clear, the system will be able to perform its specific task of improving quality of service, compliance and productivity.
Solutions to business process management problems
In times of business processes complications or problems, several alternatives can be sought to help curb the vices. Many complications are reported in honoring and processing orders within the time limit of the ordering client. Most of the activities that take place in this process are geared at addressing issues related to the consumer. To avoid pitfalls in delivering service to the client, the process should have the capability to version the strategy it employs with time.
Versioning the business process makes it adjustable towards any new challenges that may come on the way, any new challenges ij technology or any new competitors who come with new products. If the business process remains rigid, it may be pushed outside the lane and out of race by the above challenges. In another alleviative case, the business process should give special attention and handling when handling long running orders. These are orders that require a lot of urgency due to time, perishability and customer needs. Priorities should be accorded to different orders with respect to urgency of the clients. This will ultimately eliminate complains and ensure good reputation of the organization in terms of efficiency in service delivery (Golann, 2006, p.51).
Business process managers also support supplementing in flight orders if their time happens to elapse. Orders that may take a lot of time during processes should be cancelled or modified to fit the ability of the processing company. It is therefore the duty of the staff in the business process management to perform a fair balance between the capability of order processors within their reach and demands of their client. This is where many business processes develop faults when by taking orders that are beyond their ability.
This creates customer dissatisfaction in terms of delays, low performance or non performance. For the sake of consistency in an organization, it is good to avoid all orders that are described as suspended. As an organizational policy, any order that is suspended in the course of processing should be cancelled with an immediate effect. This move takes care of extra costs that can come with these kinds of orders.
To be transparent and just in serving clients, the entire process should be consulted when tracking orders. This helps to attach every order its own time of processing depending on the time it was made. If this kind of procedure is not followed, orders can be processed haphazardly and thus offend clients who file their orders early and are processed after a long time. The processing process should be left to people who are best suited in order to apply integrity and intelligence of the highest degree. The level of service delivery is in most occasions correlated to the nature of staff providing the services. It is the duty of business process management to look in to the abilities of different employees in their system, and then assign them appropriately depending on the professional qualifications and experience of workers.
Specialization of labour will be the best criterion because every body will have a distinct role to play in the processing activity and also utilize their whole potential in service delivery. Ultimately, every staff will be actively contributing to the wellbeing of the organization and therefore qualify for compensation. The company will thrive well if and only if in provides remuneration package to employees to have proportionately contributed towards the growth of the company in the specific area of specialization (Golann, 2006, p.59).
In the context of all above arguments, business process management is the today’s global tool in management activities. That is why it is widely used and widely relied on. It is a section of management that is more vital than the general management process. This is because, if activities are not internally, coordinated the whole process of organizational operation is disrupted. Business process management addresses the very sensitive and contentious elements within an organization, without which it can not move forward. This starts from developing and enhancing policies that are inwardly looking and inwardly encouraging. From the inner concentration, the process extends its boundaries and opens up to incorporate external concerns.
These concerns may include mew information, data, product, technology, innovation or even new competitors. This keeps a business venture aware of the surrounding, current and expected challenges. Because of this nature of diversity, it is recommended by business analysts for the consistent results it has shown in the areas it has been employed around the world. It is not only a management tool, but also a business problem solving element, both internal and external complications.
Hiles Andrew & Barnes Peter (2001) The Definitive Handbook of Business Continuity Management. New York: Wiley; 1-289
Golann Bret (2006) Achieving Growth and Responsiveness: Process Management and Market Orientation in Small Firms. Journal of Small Business Management, Vol.44;1-65