The Key Elements of Business Process Management
Congratulations! You’ve done it. You cracked the code on how to deliver a product or service that improves your customers’ lives and are making money with it. Now what? Well, now you have to figure out how to continue delivering your core offering, anticipate your customers’ future needs, keep your employees productive and happy and figure out how to continue growing and scaling your company. In all reality, this can be the really hard part, but we have a solution: business process management.
In fact, there are actually plenty of easy ways to streamline your processes and make your company run more efficiently. (Go ahead, breathe a sigh of relief.)
With business process management (BPM), you not only dig into what makes your business work but also how you can save precious time through detailed workflows and automation. In this guide, we’re breaking down what business process management is, why it matters, and how to make your business run like a well-oiled machine.
Table of Contents
- What is Business Process Management?
- Why Organizations Need Business Process Management
- Challenges to Implementing BPM
- 6 Stages of Business Process Management
- Best BPM Tools and Software
- Business Process Management in Action
What is Business Process Management?
Business process management refers to how a business discovers, creates, modifies, analyzes, optimizes, and automates the processes that make up the core of their business. Simply put, any method you use to manage your company’s workflow is considered BPM.
There may be a dozen or more processes that help your business run every day. Just think about a typical day for you or one of your employees. The day may start with checking email (communication process), then a brainstorming meeting on a new offering (product development process), then some time spent tweaking an existing product based on customer feedback (customer satisfaction process).
Each of these processes consists of steps, tools, and workflows in order to lead to a specific result. For example, you may have a lead generation process that consists of marketing, outreach, intake, follow-up, and close, with many details in between.
As you’ll discover, managing multiple processes can get more complicated as your business grows. That’s why business process management is essential. With BPM, you can take a step back, analyze the processes you have in place, and then lay out a plan for how your business can run more efficiently.
The 10 W’s of Business
A helpful way of looking at BPM is to consider the 10 W’s of business: What, Why, Where, When, Who, Way, With, Watch, Worry, and Wealth. (Try saying that 5x fast.)
Since BPM isn’t just one thing, we encourage business owners to look at BPM through a more comprehensive, results-oriented lens.
With that, BPM can be seen as a methodology that answers:
- WHAT a business process does
- WHY it is done
- WHERE it takes place
- WHEN it is done
- WHO does it
- The WAY it is done
- WITH what resources
- While WATCHing performance
- Identifying what to WORRY about
- And how these processes contribute to your business generating WEALTH
With business process management, you help align your business functions with your customers’ needs, increasing brand awareness and driving up revenue over time.
Why Organizations Need Business Process Management
When properly executed, business process management will significantly increase efficiency and productivity in your business. You’ll gain a better understanding of how your existing processes work and how you can improve them over time.
A strong BPM system offers your business so many benefits. Below are a few of the most valuable for your organization.
Now we have your attention.
By launching your business process management plan, you can look forward to better financial management and increased visibility into how your company works day in and day out. BPM has the ability to completely optimize your business processes and the results they generate.
Challenges with Business Process Management
You may find yourself wondering if business process management is so essential, why aren’t more businesses (including mine) doing it? Well, the reality is that managing multiple processes – especially complicated processes – isn’t always easy. And many business owners have not been equipped to launch a BPM strategy on their own.
There are a few challenges when it comes to business process management, such as:
Technological limitations – Many businesses don’t have the right tools (or budget) they need to streamline their BPM, so they rely on manual processes.
Hesitation from higher-ups – Company executives may be hesitant to funnel money into BPM if they don’t understand the benefits. (We’ve always done it this way – why fix something that isn’t broken?) On top of that, many BPM providers have a history of over-promising and underdelivering. This can make BPM a hard sell.
Team pushback – We all know how employees tend to feel about change. If your team is accustomed to doing things a certain way, they may be resistant to changes to your business processes, even if these changes will eventually lead to better efficiency.
Building to scale – A business might implement a BPM tool to cut costs, only to realize they need a more robust tool to scale up their business processes. Business owners need to be able to shift and align with changing business objectives.
Despite these challenges, the benefits of implementing an effective BPM system will be worth it for your organization. Lean into the changes so your organization can start making more money with less effort. That’s a win for everyone!
Next, let’s look at how to actually implement a Business Process Management system.
6 Stages of Business Process Management
Before implementing your business process management plan, you need to understand that BPM is about efficiently aligning your organization with the needs of your customers. In essence, this is done by assessing your current systems, identifying barriers to alignment, and then fixing them.
Here are the 6 stages of business process management to follow to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your business:
Stage 1: Design
A good design will be at the foundation of your BPM system so we’ll start by laying out an efficient theoretical design that covers the basic processes in your business. These processes can be pretty bare-bones for now – you will iron out the details later.
Spend some time with your team designing what your current and/or future processes will look like. This might include an outline of:
- What processes you currently have in place and what they aim to accomplish
- What team members are involved in these processes
- What tools are used
- Who is responsible for optimizing these processes
- What the goal is for each of these processes (what are the results generated for your customers or internal team members)
- Any issues or inefficiencies that currently exist
- What processes need to be created
- What those processes may look like
Once you have a basic design for each process, you can work with your team to define your business objectives, assess your current processes, identify any holes in these processes, and more.
Stage 2: Define
Before your processes can be improved, they must first be defined. What is the process, why does it matter, and what is the goal? These are just a few questions you will want to answer at this stage.
Examine the current process from start to finish, being sure to document the steps as you go. Take note of any holes in the process or any areas that require improvement.
Ultimately, you’ll want to define:
- How the process currently works
- How the current process performs (in terms of success, results, efficiency, etc.)
- What steps are required throughout the process
For example, you may have a lead intake process that involves your marketing team passing along contact information to your sales team. You may define the process like so:
- The marketing team adds new contact information into the centralized customer relationship management (CRM) tool (such as Hubspot).
- Automated email reminders are set (by project management team) to notify the sales team of a new lead.
- A sales team member follows up with the new lead via email using the “Welcome” script.
- The sales team member schedules an initial call via Calendly.
- All leads are added to the automated follow-up email campaign.
Of course, you’ll want to be as detailed as possible during the definition stage. That way, you’ll be better able to identify any gaps in the process during Stage 3.
Stage 3: Assess
Next, you’ll want to assess the current performance of the process, as well as identify qualitative and quantitative key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help you establish a baseline based on how the process currently performs.
With this baseline set, you’ll have something to measure improvement against. You might also be able to compare your process to industry standards. The goal here is to find out where you are currently at and how you will measure improvement over time.
Some KPIs might include:
Stage 4: Identify
Stage 4 is all about identifying any barriers to improvement. If your existing processes aren’t hitting your goals, then you’ll need to find the bottlenecks or holes that are holding you back.
Make sure your team knows why these processes are needed and what they are supposed to accomplish. Then, ask them if they know of any gaps in the existing processes.
- Are there delays in communication?
- A tool that isn’t working right?
- Missed details when transferring information from one department to another?
Try to identify anything and everything that might be slowing down your processes and preventing you from hitting your goals. Then, you can take a problem-solving approach to develop a BPM plan that aligns with what your customers need.
Stage 5: Develop
Once you have a design for each of your business processes, have identified any barriers to success, and have a plan for how to measure improvement, it’s time to develop your BPM plan. Fortunately, you have done most of the heavy lifting in previous stages, so now it simply comes down to fine-tuning and utilizing the right tools.
While developing your process, be sure to document everything. These documents can then be used as training materials when it comes time to train your team and any new hires on how to follow the new processes.
In the Development Process, you’ll want to clearly outline the following steps to a successful BPM plan:
- Identify the end result you want to achieve
- Create a solution to achieving that result (process)
- Describe the new process, including necessary steps and tools used
- Re-organize the structure according to the new plan
- Test the new process with your team(s)
- Measure the new process capabilities
- Track success based on pre-defined KPIs
- Develop a detailed implementation strategy to set your team up for success
Stage 6: Implement
Now, it’s time to execute the process by testing it live with some core team members. Then, you can open it up to all relevant team members and end-users.
There may be some hiccups along the way, but that’s to be expected. Keep a record of these and fix any impediments in your process over time. Monitor progress as your team runs through the workflow. Then, use your target KPIs to identify progress, measure efficiency, and identify any bottlenecks.
Business process management is an art form – an art form that any organization can dive into as long as they have the desire to improve their systems. You and your team will also naturally identify new ways to increase efficiency over time. The hardest part is just getting started!
The good news is that there are tons of business process management tools available to help you overhaul your processes quickly and affordably. We’ve listed a few of our tried and true options below.
Best Business Process Management Tools and Software
You can save time (and money) in your business by using the latest business process management tools and software. There are so many helpful tools available to help you streamline your BPM system, without the stress of overhauling your processes manually.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but we thought we’d save you some time by describing the BPM tools we have found to work the best across a wide variety of industries. From project management systems to search engine optimization (SEO) tools, you’ll find everything you need to optimize your business systems for success.
Project Management Tools
Project management tools help you oversee multiple projects, assign tasks to team members, keep track of deadlines, and more. Here are our two favorite project management tools:
- Trello – work collaboratively with your team and manage all of your projects in one place
- Asana – assign projects, check deadlines, share documents, and more within Asana’s user-friendly platform
Content Creation Tools
Most businesses turn to content marketing to attract more customers or clients. If you are stumped on how to create engaging, click-worthy content for your blog or social media, use these two content creation tools:
- HubSpot – all-in-one sales and marketing software that helps you create content that attracts your target audience, for as little as $0 per month
- Agorapulse – a social media scheduling, curating, listening, and reporting tool that also features an amazing (and free) employee advocacy tool!
SEO is a type of marketing that involves attracting organic (unpaid) traffic to your website via search engines. Streamline your traffic-generating processes with our preferred SEO tools:
- SEMrush – find the best target keywords for your website, generate analytics reports on autopilot, and find new backlink opportunities. SEMrush is one of the best premium SEO tools on the market.
- Ahrefs – Similar to SEMrush, Ahrefs allows you to conduct keyword research, find backlinks, scope out your competitors, audit your site for SEO issues, and more.
Reputation Management and Local Online Business tools
Your business’s reputation can significantly influence your ability to attract new customers. These reputation management and local business tools will help you clean up your online presence and reach more customers locally.
- Yext – submit your business to high-traffic directories to improve your online reputation and reach more customers online
- Moz – Moz offers local SEO software to help you increase your rankings, earn positive reviews, and improve your online presence
Communication is key when it comes to business process management. Use Slack – our favorite communication tool – to stay in touch with your team and streamline your business processes.
- Slack – teams can use Slack to communicate in a chat-like format, sharing documents and collaborating on projects
Business Administrative Tools
Take the stress out of admin with time-saving business administration tools. Managing the day-to-day doesn’t have to be a drag when you have tools like G Suite and Zendesk in your BPM stack.
- G Suite – G Suite offers a slew of collaboration and productivity tools, such as Google Docs and Hangouts, to make keeping up with important admin tasks a breeze
- Zendesk – Improve customer experience with Zendesk’s internal helpdesk. Plus, access financial management tools, telecommunication software, and more.
Business Process Management in Action
There you have it – business process management is way less scary when you have the right strategy, steps, and tools at your fingertips. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand what business process management is and how important it is to implement a BPM system in your business.
BPM looks different for different types of businesses. Don’t get discouraged thinking there is one “correct” way to do BPM. Your goal should always be to improve the systems you have by focusing on what you are trying to provide for the end-users (your customers).
Need help putting your business process management plan into action? Contact the Striventa team for custom-tailored BPM solutions.