BPM is not a technology, but a way of using technology to simulate, model and design the processes that run a business.
Business process management (BPM) is touted by Gartner to be one of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2008. BPM is not a technology, but, according to Gartner, is "a way of using technologies to enable companies to simulate, model and design the processes that run their businesses".
"Put simply, BPM allows companies to standardise business processes and procedures to ensure a consistent application of the relevant rules in every transaction," says John Olsson, marketing director of Ability Solutions. "It also provides companies with the ability to empirically measure every employee's productivity, finding where and how they are not doing their jobs correctly."
John Olsson, marketing director of Ability
Of course, companies are quick to adopt the standardisation and workflow elements of BPM, but the Big Brother aspect is mostly ignored for fear of employee or union backlash. "People generally do not like close monitoring because it smacks of accountability, which is an unacceptable phenomenon in South African society," says Olsson.
There is a middle way, however, as monitoring productivity through BPM allows progressive managers to spot areas of weakness where training or additional support can improve the flow of business. This requires a careful process of change management in which the BPM implementation is carried out in cooperation with employees instead of simply declaring it as a fact.
Working together with staff allows for joint decisions regarding task goals and performance management. This cooperation will assure people that the monitoring will be used to improve their performance and skills and not as a punishment. Not only will this result in staff acceptance of BPM, but a consequence of their enhanced performance will be improved job satisfaction and commitment.
Olsson refers to negative perception of the public service sector. Service requests could immediately be entered into a BPM system and tracked from start to finish. Of course, in this case it would require a substantial change management programme to get staff to buy into the BPM process and accept that they would be responsible for doing their jobs.
"BPM is about adding value and improving service levels," explains Olsson, "but simply having the process in place will not deliver results if the people responsible for the operations are not on board. When staff are consulted and a monitoring system implemented that will streamline operations while improving their skills, BPM delivers efficiency, accuracy and improved service levels.
"In business terms, this means faster turnaround times, the capacity for the same staff compliment to handle more without overburdening them and the ability to automatically take care of the demands compliance regulations are imposing on organisations. Every process can be tracked, every employee interaction recorded (if required) and every decision justified according to the rules and procedures the company has put in place via the BPM system. And this while staff simply do their jobs, but do them more effectively than ever before."