Having the right business process management (BPM) strategy and set of tools allows you to capitalize on innovation and get ahead of change.
Every business has a unique set of processes, both company-wide and within specific business units, departments, or even teams. How well all of these processes and the technology used to manage them work together can mean the difference between market leadership and being edged out by your competition. Having the right business process management (BPM) strategy and set of tools allows you to capitalize on innovation and better weather periods of uncertainty.
Business Process Management (BPM) software enables organizations to orchestrate the tasks of these processes, ensuring that work is done on time, proper handoffs occur between departments, and each step of the customer journey and back-office procedures is executed consistently. BPM also commonly includes web forms to gather info from employees, customers and partners, as well as case management capabilities to manage incoming tickets to resolution.
Though, the BPM market has evolved over time, now requiring advanced automation of business processes. From RPA to IPA, these technologies have all aimed to accelerate business process management.
Most recently, next-generation Digital Process Automation (DPA) solutions have emerged recently, giving organizations more flexibility and speed to modernize and automate end-to-end business processes beyond the capabilities of traditional BPM suites.
Why do your business processes matter?
In a word? Change, both internally and externally. Companies are continuously evolving—new employees, customers, partners, product lines, locations, geographies, etc. This growth creates new layers of operational complexity that require additional tools and technologies. Over time, the processes that once started out as straightforward become clumsy, inefficient, and inconsistent.
Externally, today’s businesses operate in a world of constant innovation. We see it across all industries and at every level, from advances in medical technology changing the expectations for patient care to how personalized advertising and marketing has changed how consumers interact with brands. Every day, the rules of business are rewritten affecting every field and type of department. No company is immune to it, and keeping pace with it requires both money and agility.
The solution? Operational efficiency. Being efficient keeps costs low by streamlining everyday operations, eliminating redundancies, and enabling a higher level of reporting to make better business decisions.
At the same time, companies that are efficient are able to move faster than those that aren’t. Not only is their capital not tied up in expensive operating costs, but their processes are flexible enough to accommodate changes to the business.
BPM Automation: A bird’s eye approach to operations
Taking stock of your operations as a whole will give you a big picture view into what’s working, what’s not, and why. To optimize your business processes, you must first understand what they are and which systems, people, and data are involved at each step, both inside and outside your organization.
What qualifies as a business process? And what exactly is business process management (BPM)? Gartner defines each this way:
“A business process coordinates the behavior of people, systems, information and things to produce business outcomes in support of a business strategy.”
BPM is “a discipline that uses various methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve and optimize business processes.”
A mature BPM strategy includes the use of several different types of tools that all work together to optimize business processes. Here’s a look inside the acronym-heavy world of BPM automation technology.
Robotic process automation (RPA)
RPA is often the first stop on a company’s automation journey. RPA technology uses AI bots to automate specific, high-volume tasks that make up a particular process, such as mass copy/paste tasks. The benefits are clear and consistently achieved. Employees are freed from mundane, tedious tasks, the chance for human error is greatly reduced, and processes run faster and more efficiently.
Business process automation (BPA)
BPA takes it a step further, by automating entire processes or workflows from start to finish, rather than just tasks. BPA requires taking an in-depth look at your existing processes across your business to uncover where your processes are most problematic or impacting your customer and employee experiences. The potential value of BPA is higher than RPA, but requires more planning, resources, and financial investment.
Intelligent process automation (IPA)
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) or intelligent Digital Process Automation (DPA) is where multiple technologies come together to enable truly differentiating process optimization. It includes RPA and BPA, but also machine learning, natural language generation, and cognitive agents. With powerful AI technology, IPA separates itself from the rest of the BPM automation stack in two ways. First, it can mimic the work of an employee and take on higher level work than RPA or BPA tools, and second, its capabilities allow it to “learn” over time so your automations get smarter and more optimized as you use it.
Digital process automation (DPA)
DPA platforms connect people, data, and systems via smart workflows. In addition to the task orchestration and web forms of traditional BPM, DPA enables automation, integration and AI capabilities to be embedded within the context of recurring business processes to save employees time, reduce error rates, and accelerate cycle time. Ultimately, by automating tasks that are well suited to machines, employees are more productive and can focus on the work that is uniquely human
Moving forward with the next generation of BPM automation
A 2018 McKinsey survey found that 75% of organizations had either begun or planned to begin their automation journey. If you’re in the 25% of businesses without a plan for moving forward with automation, the time is now.
How do you know which automation technology is best for your business? How should you compare technology vendors? How will your strategy change as your processes evolve? To learn how to merge both your short-term needs with long-term automation goals to outline a strategy that will serve your organization best, read our white paper on evaluating an automation provider.