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Business Process Management

Business Process Management (BPM) as part of a digital platform

Business Process Management (BPM) - you've probably heard of it? A down-to-earth Schwab would say newfangled gibberish. However, we set out to explain the latest trends and developments to you in a comprehensible way and, if possible, to explain them appropriately using practical examples: i.e. from "What is BPM?" to "How can you use it to design your processes?"

We will also highlight terms, approaches, tools, costs and examples of implementation using our LCM module BPM and highlight the benefits for your daily tasks and processes. You can even participate in the design! Through your questions or suggestions, you directly influence the topics and find answers or suggestions for practical use.

For this purpose, we have set up the form below to record your questions. We would be pleased if you thereby practically support other interested parties with your current questions or topics.

Part 1: BPM - Theory and Approach in IT

An acronym with more than 20 meanings. In IT and the perception of business processes of companies, the abbreviation BPM is used as Business Process Management. According to Wikipedia, BPM deals with the identification, design, documentation, implementation, control and improvement of business processes. Holistic approaches to business process management address not only technical issues, but also organizational aspects, such as strategic orientation, organizational culture, and the integration and management of process participants.

So much for the theory, but it already describes it very aptly, because all elements from technology, processes, to culture are included and also refer directly to the design by people. But why is BPM currently the "latest thing", to use the slogan of modern IT culture?

The question can be well described with the constant and ever faster change of IT, its possibilities and the resulting technological leaps. With the entry of IT into corporate landscapes, new demands and dimensions of increased effectiveness and efficiency were constantly expected. And rightly so! After all, this was the only way to develop and modernize business processes to the same extent. "Yesterday" was recorded and administered, "today" we manage our processes and "tomorrow" it is about securing quality demands, compliance and comprehensive information management. Across all processes in the company, from the value chain, through purchasing and supplier processes, to the now success-critical issue of compliance excellence. In the meaning of "tomorrow", BPM will therefore support your organization with the right IT tools. In Part 2, we will report in detail on what these means are, what tools IT has already conjured up for this purpose, and why the "best theory" is not recommended in practice.

Part 2: From theory to approach

You will have heard Business Process Management many times in your environment. With the "glasses of IT" everything is EASY! According to the IT infrastructure concept, the systems are in place or have already been selected, the processes have been analyzed at some point, perhaps even documented, and the organization is living them. So far so good. But : ATTENTION! - here the uncertainty described in part 1 already starts with, from or about BPM. Since your organization or structures and responsibilities also change every 3-4 years, employees are newly integrated and processes are realigned to the strategic goals of the company, you urgently need clear and reliable methods and solutions to develop along these challenges. This is where I would like to start now with the theory of terms and tools.

In order to sustainably integrate BPM into your organization, you need to consider three steps:
The analysis - building knowledge about terms and definitions.
Modeling - structuring of processes with tools
Integration - integrating the definition of practical processes into the application

The first step is to agree on the terms and definitions. There is a body for standardization of BPM methodology with tools, called OMG. The latest tool is the BPMN2.0 description. This is a set of "painting tools", interaction and activity elements with which you can define your workflows and processes in XML format. These are represented in so-called conversation and choreography diagrams. The conversation (the Y-axis) describes the communication and interaction between the involved areas, departments or responsibilities. The X-axis describes the choreography, i.e. the sequence or process-related sequence of actions, activities or tasks. All the terms worth knowing are presented in the BPM poster at in a summarized, comprehensible and clear manner.

At this point, it is important to mention that the technical terms are only informative for the specialist organization. Use this knowledge to argue at eye level with your IT in the joint creation and development of a BPMN notation. The knowledge carrier of your processes to be structured is always the business departments. Therefore, speak plainly - without beating around the bush, and formulate your requirements for IT. Draw up your processes, outline your workflows, describe your responsibilities, note your releases, tasks and termination points. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" - you could also say "simple and understandable". Because now the next step can follow.

The section "Modeling - Structuring Processes with Tools" takes a closer look at the task of IT. After the organizational flow of a process has been described with proven tools, the sustainable technological description using BPMN2.0 can be started.

You can read about the various procedures and approaches as well as useful tips in our next part of our series!

Part 3: Modeling - Structuring Processes with Tools and Instruments

After the organizational flow of a process has been described with proven means, the sustainable technological description using BPMN2.0 can now be started. Thus, in the point "Modeling - Structuring Processes with Tools", the tool moves into the center of action. So-called BPM suites are standardized tools that software providers offer as freeware or tools. Comparisons, so-called benchmarks, have shown that the top ten providers are similar in terms of the power of functions, elements, operation and process modeling. However, the requirements in the companies are too individual, so that none of the tools can completely fulfill them (see Computerwoche 5/14, article J. Hackmann "BPM-8 Tools in Comparison").

This makes it clear: It is not the tool that is important, but the goal. Therefore, be careful when choosing, because there are now specialized applications (e.g., LCM from TQG) where the tool is integrated into the application, tailored to the specific process requirements (e.g., certain contract processes) and designed to be user-friendly for individual workflows. For this purpose, a common BPM tool is integrated into the product in these applications. Thus, the tool is integrated into the target object and you have only one contact person for later versioning or updates. You can confidently benefit from this expertise when selecting the right building blocks for process modeling.

Read about the integration of practical processes into the application as well as useful tips in the last part of our series.

Part 4: Integration - integrating the definition of practical processes into the application

In this way, you can kill two birds with one stone: First, process integration takes place directly on the specialist process or the specialist tool and with their subsequent users. And secondly, you minimize the coordination effort between IT and the business department considerably. This leaves time for the business process and the important quality loop of testing and ensuring the process and training employees. This is also necessary, because the most important benefit of the efforts to model a process and then integrate it into a specialist application is that the subsequent user can participate in the process in the simplest possible way with "task management". Here one could speak of the "One-Click-Wonder": a workspace on which, like in the mail system, only the tasks I have to do are visible. Simply select task, inform about what, how and why and complete it. All in one go, fast and efficient! That is the goal from the user's point of view. From the perspective of departmental responsibility, the modeled process can be evaluated in cycles. How often, how on schedule, how correct - according to such key performance indicators (KPI), the process can then be monitored, improved, and changed in an agile manner by means of an effort-benefit analysis.

Of course, according to the BPM history described at the beginning, without investment there is no measurable improvement, without people there is no change (in the sense of the continuous improvement process (CIP)), and without controlling there is no measurability. As the graphic above shows, BPM methodology is an investment that increases quality and minimizes costs in the long term. It comes down to ensuring measurable quality, especially in administrative processes. The future is called: with agility the requirements in the organizations, the measurability of the achievements and the motivation of the coworkers in the enterprises promote and require. To this end, the approach described is a proven means of putting the dusty path of BPM back into the "right" light, because the focus is no longer on the IT solution alone, but on the most essential component: The human being in the business process, measured in terms of his or her tasks and responsibilities.

Webinar Business Process Management

Business Process Management (BPM) as the key to success

In our webinar we look at the challenges of Business Process Management (BPM), how to make it practical and how YOU can motivate the team to actively follow your agile ideas and changes. YOU will gain insights into the TQG businessApp platform® as well as its BPM features and learn how to use and apply them practically.