Business process management (BPM)

What is business process management and automation? Read on to learn more

It’s a popular business cliché: “Work smarter, not harder.” And if anyone ever asks you to tell them what that means, say, “Well, essentially, it’s business process management.”

Business process management (BPM), or business process management software, is the practice of using computer software to assist a business with conducting its work. It allows employees to work smarter by letting the BPM system handle logistics and rudimentary processing, freeing users to focus on more high-value tasks and exception cases. The BPM system ensures that work is handled consistently, and that items arrive where they need to be, when they need to be there. Employees no longer spend time figuring out what tasks they have to do. Instead, they can focus on completing the tasks given to them.

To learn a little bit more about BPM, we sat and chatted with Hyland Software’s BPM guru, Dan Wilson.

“If you are currently not using BPM in your organization, then you are likely not operating as efficiently as you could,” says Wilson. “BPM helps remove busy work from your employees’ task lists, ensuring that their effort is focused where it is most needed and valuable.”

How to get started with business process automation

Getting started involves identifying the various processes your organization follows and then creating a computer model of those processes. This model includes the rules and actions that take place at various steps, allowing the BPM system to control the flow of data through the organization and, in many cases, fully automate the process, completely eliminating the need for human involvement.

“Many organizations start their BPM journey in one of two places, human resources or accounts payable,” says Wilson. “Both tend to have highly-structured processes that lend themselves well to automation. For example, invoice approval in AP tends to follow one of a few well-defined processes depending on the source or value of the invoice. This makes it a prime candidate for an organization’s first foray into BPM.”

BPM projects are generally more successful if they start with a limited scope, putting to rest any worries about having to launch BPM enterprise-wide.

“Attempting to address the entire enterprise from the outset can be a bit like trying to boil the ocean,” says Wilson.

Start small and branch out. You can establish some quick wins, and take the time you need to become familiar with the tool and the practice of automating business processes.

“Growing pains are best experienced when you're small,” says Wilson. “And the best part about Hyland Software’s OnBase configuration? Most BPM solutions can be implemented without writing a single line of code. This means you don’t need a suite of programmers on staff in order to make use of OnBase BPM. In fact, with many of our customers, the business users actually handle configuration of the processes they use.”

Benefits galore

Implementing BPM benefits a company in numerous ways, from ensuring business rules are applied consistently to items moving through the system to allowing an organization to track where items are in-process at any time. And if something gums up the works, notification goes out to the appropriate individuals so lack of movement doesn’t impede important opportunities.

Employees and other end users benefit the most, if only because they don’t need to remember all the rules that apply to a particular process.

“The system takes care of it,” says Wilson. “Employees no longer perform tasks that a computer can handle, providing employees with a more consistent process to follow, allowing them to become more efficient over time.”

If you've already experienced the wonder of BPM, and your company scans a lot of documents into the system, Wilson suggests researching Hyland Software’s OnBase solution for automated indexing or intelligent automated indexing, since they can dramatically reduce the amount of effort a company’s scanning department must perform in order to import documents into the system.

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