Business Process Management or BPM as it’s widely known is ages old. The term Business (The ‘B’ in BPM) may be misleading as it reminds us of a hierarchy of roles and people in those roles. Mind you people don’t figure here. They are simply custodians of roles. Or in object oriented terms they are simply actors. The second tern process encapsulates the meaning well. A process is nothing but a well defined set of activities. In this case, it’s more of a flow. Finally the term management, will make our minds reel as we imagine suits in meeting rooms. Well, it’s not all that bad, as long as they understand our proposition.
Management thinking has undergone rapid change from the ‘Peter Drucker’ days. Today we have many new styles of management. For example you see 2 CEO’s heading a corporation. Some cultures are open and others still hang the placard ‘Open to suggestions’, but you very well know what that means. BPM takes into consideration all this (mind you it’s not an ‘org-chart’ as that is static) and draws out a complete picture of the processes in an organization. How is it different from Business Performance Management, you may ask? Well BPM is a superset. One of it’s goals is Performance.
So far, so good. Have you heard the term, continuous improvement or CMM (Capability Maturity Model)? Well, it has connotations to BPM. In essence BPM is capturing the best practices in terms of processes. How do you get started? Well, take out a piece of paper, and start drawing the functioning of the department to which you are associated with. Now draw the actors or people who are involved, Not the names, roles like Clerk , Officer etc. More or less like a flowchart or better yet Use cases. (A part of UML – Unified Modeling Language)
By now you must have gotten some idea about BPM. There are many products out there which help us do BPM. The latest craze is human centric BPM’s, which means focus more on people than processes. And it is one hell of a job, because people as you know are very predictable – pun intended. Anyway don’t lose heart, These tools are quite good. I remember having been associated with a tool called PROOF, entirely developed by an Indian Company. Neat but requires to be spruced up. There are many BPM standards also. So in case you go to a a meeting of BPM honchos, prepare well.
Cheers and Good Luck,
Guru30 (Rajesh Menon)