People unfamiliar (sometimes even those familiar too) with BPM often ask “Is BPM a Software/Technology or a Management discipline?” . To answer this question, let’s see how some experts define BPM.
“Business process management (BPM) has been referred to as a “holistic management” approach  to aligning an organization’s business processes with the wants and needs of clients. It promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology.”
– Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process_management
“Business process management (BPM) is the discipline of managing processes (rather than tasks) as the means for improving business performance outcomes and operational agility. Processes span organizational boundaries, linking together people, information flows, systems and other assets to create and deliver value to customers and constituents.”
– Gartner http://blogs.gartner.com/it-glossary/business-process-management-bpm-2/
“Business Process Management (BPM) is a disciplined approach to identify, design, execute, document, monitor, control, and measure both automated and non-automated business processes to achieve consistent, targeted results consistent with an organization’s strategic goals. BPM involves the deliberate, collaborative and increasingly technology-aided definition, improvement, innovation, and management of end-to-end business processes that drive business results, create value, and enable an organization to meet its business objectives with more agility.”
– ABPMP http://www.abpmp.org/
Among the three definitions above, the one I like most is from Gartner which brings the three main entities of an organization together for any successful BPM implementation, namely, People, Process and Technology. It is difficult to presume a successful BPM implementation without any one of these entities.
People – Probably a late dawn wisdom, People are now considered the most important component in any BPM strategy, analysts now believe companies are better served if organizations focus on People aspect more while selecting, implementing, developing and using BPM solutions. This takes into consideration People’s capacity to adapt to change. Even with the best Technology and Process in place if People fail to accept and adapt to change no BPM strategy would be successful. Current Mantra is “Design Processes the Way People Work” rather than the other way round.
Process – Literally the thread that holds People and Technology together, Processes are structured tasks that produce the desired outcome. A good process takes into account all the ways in which a chain of activities are triggered, the inputs and outputs that are needed, include break-points if any. Further, it is important to understand the logic behind each process before it is automated to ensure they don’t become less efficient than earlier. Automate only those processes that need to be automated and not all processes just because it exists.
Technology – This component is critical as it models, automates, monitors and optimizes business processes. The rapid strides in Technology has helped companies tackle substantial business challenges, improve back-office efficiency, process automation and worker productivity. It has also made companies embrace change and disruption, whether internal or external, much easier.
More on each in my subsequent blogs.