Business process management improves business agility by treating the processes of business as an enterprise asset in the design of lean, efficient organizations and information technology. By taking a holistic approach, rather than concentrating on specific aspects of the business process-like workflow, BPM applied to improve business agility has consolidated and optimized the best-of-the-best business and IT practices.
BPM aims to align all aspects of an enterprise's operations with its stated corporate goals--traditionally one of the most difficult aspects of businesses to manage, especially in large organizations. The best part of BPM, according to business leaders, is that it achieves efficiency and conformance while also promoting innovation and integration of new technologies. BPM is also claimed to increase customer satisfaction, product quality, delivery speed and time to market.
Implementing BPM is simplified by software that manages the complexity of the entire process lifecycle with a growing library of BPM assets and dependencies. (Source: IBM)
Modern BPM software aims to solve business problems by automating its processes--sometimes called business process automation (BPA)--thus enhancing business agility when responding to changes in customer needs, new regulatory demands and other sources of stress on businesses. Several software suites codify BPM, enabling it to be applied in real time, thereby turning the practice into an optimization process that can be constantly applied to incrementally improve an enterprise's products and services as well as its bottom line.
The processes--basically any business activity that aids in delivering value-added products and services to customers--become the strategic assets of the enterprise, with the BPM software helping them to become clearly understood, managed and constantly improved. BPA software then automates these processes into workflows that include tasks performed both by people in the enterprise and by IT application suites.
For those new to BPM or BPM applied to improve business agility, there are many good sources of information available today. According to the introduction to the "Handbook on Business Process Management" by Mike Hammer, a business process pioneer who was named one of "Time" magazine's 25 most influential people, BPM is the most important new concept in organizational performance since the Industrial Revolution. The six steps to realizing the advantages of BPM, according to the Handbook, are envision (strategically defining corporate goals), design (description of affected processes), modeling (software simulation of processes), execution (creating the software and services that realize processes), monitoring (tracking and measuring success of each process) and optimization (identifying bottlenecks and realizing process enhancements).
As the bridge between business goals and IT, a variety of BPM suites are available to help implement, manage and automate processes, as well as integrate them with existing operational intelligence, business modeling and analytical tools.
For instance, several companies offer an integrated set of software tools for creating, executing and optimizing business processes. For example, IBM also offers a comprehensive Business Process Manager to build, manage and optimize process applications. Used in service-oriented architecture (SOA) or non-SOA environments, sophisticated visualization tools such as "heat maps" pinpoint bottlenecks and allow drilling down to root causes. IBM also offers cloud-based integration of social business with BPM. That is the free-to-try Blueworks Live, with built-in instant messaging, comment sharing and live news feeds.