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What is business process management (BPM)?

BPM offers greater flexibility, agility and speed in process design and implementation — so your business users can take more ownership of their processes and drive innovation.

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Business process management (BPM) is a methodology that keeps your teams efficient and your business competitive.

Organizations without clear procedures will end up with operational delays, security threats and confusing processes that affect their bottom line. The right BPM strategies allow your teams to carry out their responsibilities on time and experience faster results.

What is business process management?

BPM is the creation, optimization, implementation and evaluation of specific processes in an organization.

The BPM discipline can be applied to operational activities that are repetitive, ongoing and predictable. With BPM, organizations can streamline these activities so that their teams are able to achieve business milestones, reduce the cost of error and deliver excellent customer experiences.

BPM can help organizations achieve business objectives in many different departments and functions. These include:

What are the steps in a BPM lifecycle?

Understanding the BPM lifecycle is essential to deploying growth-centric strategies of your own. The BPM lifecycle is broken down into five stages that must be completed in sequence to achieve the desired business outcome.

1. Designing

The designing stage of a BPM lifecycle thoroughly examines how a specific process is currently carried out.

For instance, management could start by interviewing employees and teams to understand how requests are approved, claims are managed, payments are made and so on. They would then observe the necessary documents, people, resources and further actions that are needed to reach an objective. This would also be the time to take note of all the challenges that are slowing a process down.

2. Modeling

After all observations are made, it’s time for the modeling phase. The modeling stage is the visual illustration of all steps involved in a process.

This depicts the beginning to the end of a task; along with ways it can be optimized to deliver the best outcome. Teams can work alongside management to create a process model that highlights potential bottlenecks and possible scenarios that will arise in a pipeline.

3. Executing

Executing a process model comes after the new framework is edited, improved and ready for implementation.

Many organizations use this part of the BPM lifecycle to test how a process would perform with smaller teams in a controlled setting. BPM practitioners must document exactly which workflows they are changing and notify all relevant parties (customers, suppliers, employees, service providers, etc.) of all modifications to ensure business continuity.

4. Monitoring

The monitoring phase of a BPM lifecycle is reserved for when management, teams and all other included stakeholders come together periodically to follow up on how a process is performing.

Organizations can identify new or unanticipated workflow bottlenecks during the monitoring phase. From here, teams should focus on collecting data on what has gone wrong, at what stage these issues occur, or if specific employees must re-evaluate how they perform an activity.

5. Optimizing

Finally, departments can shift their attention to optimizing the outlined business process.

Consider all gathered information, reports and metrics when optimizing a process plan so you can make thorough improvements to efficiency. Keep in mind that BPM is not a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy, as it takes ongoing evaluation to improve and adapt business processes to your organization’s current demands.

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Types of business process management systems

You can choose which type of BPM technology to implement based on the complexity of a business goal or what your team’s structure looks like. The three most common BPM types are:


A document-oriented BPM system applies to the reviews, approvals, editing, signing, sharing and managing of contracts and agreements.

Document-centric processes can also benefit from BPM systems that use workflow automation. Teams can maintain complete visibility over the status of their digital documentation, have the right files electronically routed to the right users and free up their employees to focus on revenue-focused activities.

Human-oriented BPM

Human-oriented BPM requires substantial human intervention and critical decision-making skills. Here, organizations must consider BPM systems that are user-friendly enough to be navigated by employees.

Human-oriented BPM remains relevant to HR departments planning and executing hiring processes. This course of action starts with a departmental lead using a visual interface to request a new hire. The request and all its relevant information (position type, job duties, etc.) get passed on to senior management and are eventually sent on to HR who will start screening potential candidates.

Integration-oriented BPM

Integration-oriented BPM details the seamless connection between various networks, tools and systems.

Teams that should be using integration-based BPM are often the ones that struggle with carrying out complex operations. This could look like employees having to switch back and forth between software or input data more than once on multiple systems. With integration-centric BPM, disparate networks (CRM, ERP, payroll systems, etc.) allow for the steady flow of data and information all at once.

The benefits of business process management

Implementing a BPM discipline goes beyond keeping daily administrative work simple. It helps organizations of all sizes and in all industries stay ahead of the growing demands that come with digital transformation. Five key benefits of having BPM software are:

Increased efficiency

Manual and repetitive work leaves teams wide open to poor productivity, costly errors, compliance risks and wasted time. Inefficient processes cost organizations time and money — and relying on ad-hoc workflows or obsolete project management processes will eventually stunt a company’s growth.

An overarching BPM strategy works quickly to identify the loopholes that have caused these process bottlenecks. From there, management can move swiftly with the right BPM software to create new workflows and automate predictable tasks to reach significant milestones at greater speed. BPM allows businesses to maintain efficiency by making future modifications according to new goals, customer demands, evolving organizational priorities and ever-changing regulations.

Greater operational transparency

Teams can very quickly get overwhelmed if they do not have visibility into their processes. The guesswork and manual tracking will leave employees struggling to access documents, understand what steps come next and stay ahead of deadlines.

BPM software leaves no room for confusion. Authorized employees can track:

  • Approvals, reviews and the entire lifecycle of contracts and agreements
  • Complete auditable history of processes, documents and data for reporting purposes
  • Critical business actions and deadlines through automated alerts

Reduced compliance risks

Organizations cannot afford a slow response to fraud, data breaches and compliance issues.

The type of BPM software or strategies you set in place must be able to maintain stringent and thorough rules to all organizational processes. This is to ensure business rules are applied consistently to mission-critical tasks that happen daily. After implementation, BPM will allow businesses to increase user accountability, stay in compliance with changing regulations and improve information security

Regulated user controls and permissions

Faster business decisions require more straightforward access to files, data, records and other information. But that does not mean all employees need to be given the same access to every document.

A successful BPM model will define user roles very clearly. Administrators can control what gets shown to each user, minimizing the clutter of information and allowing employees to only focus on what is relevant to them. A BPM system can also grant and revoke access to documents, restrict information and hide confidential information accordingly.

Maximize ROI and improve cost savings

There could be hidden, cost-draining processes behind every ‘traditional’ workflow. For instance, steps that rely heavily on the printing, exchanging and storing of paper-based documents will always be expensive to maintain.

BPM systems that deploy data capture technology will be able to quickly capture information from physical documents, minimizing the need to depend on paper records. Automation then comes in to accelerate the reviews and approvals of all business contracts, applications and other documentation. An end-to-end BPM methodology like this will result in a faster time –to market for new products, services, updates, partnerships and other revenue-focused decisions.

Three co-workers sit at a conference desk with coffee and a single laptop to strategize their intelligent automation strategy.

A practical guide to intelligent automation

How should you choose the right automation tools for your organization’s needs and goals? Start with insights from advisory firm Deep Analysis, including types of automation tools and their differences, seven steps to deciding which automation tools to use and how leading companies approach their automation initiatives.

Automation is everywhere. It’s time to put it to work for you.

Using BPM to accelerate digital transformation

BPM spearheads your organization’s digital transformation efforts by focusing on short-term and long-term goals. This starts with management and respective employees continuously analyzing obsolete processes, deploying advanced measures and optimizing their operations. After new BPM techniques are finalized, businesses can work towards reaching their organizational goals through innovative digital technologies that keep their business competitive.

Ask your vendor these three questions when choosing a BPM solution to accelerate digital transformation:

  • Is your solution able to support future long-term initiatives? To avoid business disruption and frequent system migrations, choose a BPM software with the technological capability to handle more complex operations.
  • Does your solution support automation? Ensure that your BPM solution can pave the way for clearer workflows and faster processes.
  • Is your solution built with low-code development? Low-code application development allows your employees to continuously introduce system upgrades through user-friendly configurable features, eliminating the need for custom coding or purchasing multiple solutions from external vendors.

The role of automation in business process management

Both BPM and robotic process automation (RPA) can support digital strategies for organizations that demand visibility, agility and cost-efficiency. But how are these two technologies different?

Think of BPM as the blueprint that streamlines multiple workflows and processes simultaneously to improve overall efficiency. RPA, on the other hand, focuses on automating specific tasks within a process so they can be carried out faster. RPA works by using bots to minimize the administrative, time-consuming tasks that have traditionally been performed by a human workforce — so your employees can focus on more critical, strategy-based processes.

Organizations can achieve the most impact if they combine BPM and RPA strategies. The best way to do this is to apply the BPM discipline throughout manual, paper-heavy operations, following up with RPA tools to automate rule-based steps in that workflow.

Explore Hyland for process automation