Business Process Management


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The term Business Process Management (or BPM) refers to activities performed by businesses to optimize and adapt their processes. The activities which constitute business process management can be grouped into three categories: design, execution and monitoring.

Process design

This covers either the design or capture of existing processes. In addition the processes may be replicated in order to test them. The software support for these activities consists of graphical editors to document the processes and repositories to store the process models.

An emphasis on getting the design of the process right will logically lead to better results as the flow on effect of problems at the design stage logically affects a large number of parts in an integrated system.

Evolution of business processes requires a change to the process design to flow on into the live system. Integrating business process is also a current research area. Integration of software for process design to be used both for creating graphical representations of workflows and implementing and maintaining these workflows makes evolution of business processes less stressful, given that requirements are not as static as information systems.

Process execution

The traditional way to achieve the automatic execution of processes is that an application is developed or purchased which executes the steps required. However, in practice, these applications only execute a portion of the overall process. Execution of a complete business process can also be achieved by using a patchwork of interfacing software with human intervention needed where applications are not able to automatically interface.

In addition, certain process steps can only be accomplished with human intervention (for example, deciding on a major credit application). Due to the complexity that this approach engenders, changing a process is costly and an overview of the processes and their state is difficult to obtain.

Business rules are a growing area of importance in BPMS as these rules provide governing behavior to the BPMS, and a business rule engine can be used to drive process execution and resolution.

Process monitoring

This monitoring encompasses the tracking of individual process so that information on their state can be easily seen and the provision of statistics on the performance of one or more processes. An example of the tracking is being able to determine the state of a customer order (e. g. ordered 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, how many orders were processed in the last month etc. These measures tend to fit into three categories: cycle time, defect rate and productivity.

Copyright 2007 Ismael D. Tabije

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