What is BPM? According to Gartner, BPM is critical to business transformation success. McKinsey Major software vendors – IBM, SAP, Oracle, et al – are promoting BPM (Business Process Management) as the solution for making organizations more agile to respond to any business challenge. Of course, according to these vendors, to do BPM you must have their entire suite of BPM software. These software suites typically include:
– Graphical process modeling tool
– BRMS (Business Rules Management System) – a repository for storing, managing and testing an organization’s decisions and rules (IBM refers to their suite of tools in this area as Organizational Decision Management (ODM))
– BPMS (Business Process Management System) – a workflow engine for executing and simulating automated business processes
The leading BPM software vendors are IBM, Pega Systems and Software AG. To promote their BPM offerings, these vendors have published e-books like “BPM for Dummies” and “BPM Basics for Dummies”. I’m no dummy, but these books, with their references to a wide variety of confusing acronyms and over-lapping technology, do not clarify BPM for the layman. Instead, they offer a utopian vision of orchestrating reusable business services and processes using SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) and their BPM suites, to execute these services and processes. However, the reality is most enterprise applications installed in organizations don’t fit nicely into a SOA model. A BPM program needs to address this reality by unifying process modeling, orchestration and performance monitoring across heterogeneous IT infrastructure, including custom/legacy software, process workflow suites, and new SOA-style services.
To enable this unification there are 3 steps to get started with BPM (and they don’t have anything to do with expensive enterprise BPM software suites):
1. Standardize the language you will use for process modeling across the organization. BPMN 2.0 is the working language of BPM, and is the logical choice for modeling all processes in business and IT, ranging from cloud-based collaborative modeling to business suite (e.g. CRM, ERP, etc.) solution modeling. The best way to get started with this step is to choose a process modeling tool that supports BPMN and can check models for compliance to the BPMN 2.0 standard. Ideally, the tool centralizes all process diagrams in a single repository so:
– Process models can be linked as necessary and re-used
– Process documentation can be generated easily from the process models and shared with all stakeholders
– The models and documentation can be governed and controlled
2. Develop an enterprise process model – An Enterprise Process Model (EPM) is a high-level depiction of the end-to-end work of an enterprise. This may seem like a daunting task, but typically most organizations have enterprise and BPM architects who have defined at a high-level what the organization does for cross-company benchmarking. Align yourself with Enterprise Architecture (EA) to find out what business process framework your company is using. Business process frameworks, such as SCOR, ITIL, or eTOM list the major processes and activities for a particular industry. APQC is an organization that publishes cross-industry processes and activities if you need help defining your EPM. Corporate Executive Board (CEB), and other research organizations, also publish industry EPMs. Regardless of how you come up with it, it’s important to define your EPM, at least at a high-level, and have your BPM and Enterprise Architects/IT agree on it. Ideally, your process modeling tool should have the ability to store your Enterprise Process Model in visual form (e.g. value streams) so your high-level EPM can be linked to more detailed process diagrams and activities.
3. Select a BPM or business process improvement project to get started – Business needs must be clarified, resourced and sponsored to make the project a success. Choose the right process based on the drivers in your organization to gain the necessary executive sponsorship, and select the right resources for your project team. Once you have the process design team in place, agree on process scope, when it starts and ends, what an instance of the process represents (e.g. Order-to-Cash), and possible end states. Create a high level map with ideally 10 or fewer activities, and then more detailed sub-process diagrams with swim lanes using BPMN standard. You need all these critical elements to get off to a good start.
In the past, a BPM architect or process modeler had two choices to get started with these 3 steps:
– Use a combination of tools that have little integration with each other, such as Visio (or another modeling tool like iGrafx, BizAgi, et al), MS Word for documentation, Excel for RACI matrix and business rules, etc…
– Use a proprietary modeling tool inside a very expensive, and very complex, enterprise BPM software suite, such as IBM, SAP or Pega.
Now there is a third option for small, medium and large enterprises getting started with BPM. Signavio is a SaaS based next generation enterprise business process management tool that allows you to accomplish all 3 activities listed above to get started with your BPM program or project. Signavio has many significant advantages over stand-alone process modelers (Visio, BizAgi, etc), and process modelers built into BPM suites. They include:
– Fully compliant with BPMN 2.0 standard with ability to check models for compliance with standard, and implement modeling conventions and standards across your organization
– Ability to link process diagrams to other processes, and your high-level enterprise process framework
– Centralized governance of all process diagrams and documentation
– Ability to share and collaborate on process diagrams with all stakeholders
– Ability to define any number of attributes for process activities, such as execution time, wait time, etc. Excellent for organization with Lean or Six Sigma initiatives looking to measure and improve processes.
I highly recommend checking out Signavio by signing up for a demo/free 30-day trial. Whether you’re new to BPM or have a BPM program under-way, Signavio is definitely worth considering for your process modeling needs. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details!