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In today’s ever-changing world of technologies and platforms, we are constantly bombarded with new terms and acronyms. One of the most important in the competitive business arena is BPM (business process management). What exactly is business process management? In order to determine this, we have to go back to the very basics and define a business process. A business process is an aggregate of tasks performed by people that contain the information used in the process along with all the appropriate business rules and conditions for those rules.
We execute a business process to achieve a business goal, whether that is to ship customer orders on time or to make sure vendors are adhering to our shipping requirements when supplies arrive. In most cases today, we find that business processes are not just performed by people; instead, software applications and systems are also part of the mix.
With higher and higher levels of competition being defined in the business world, agility and adaptability are the new metrics that businesses use to succeed. No longer is it acceptable to be predictable and have steady-state operations. In addition, there is a requirement for near real-time visibility into the status of not only the business, but the business processes themselves. For example, the business process currently in place missed 5% of shipping transactions. This is great information to know, but only addresses one side of the equation. It does not address the questions: Which users were affected by this? How much money was lost because of this? Were any of the customers that were part of this lost batch in our top 25 list? Which servers were those transactions flowing through? When will this issue be resolved?
The benefits of business process monitoring and management are not new. They are prerequisites for continued process improvement. The first step toward business process improvement is providing real-time visibility into business processes. Understanding first where the bottlenecks are helps with improving the process, but process improvement requires all levels of the company to have control and visibility. That includes business management, business operations and IT management.
Many business process owners get end-result metrics but are disconnected from metrics on the performance of systems on which these reports depend. Usually, different groups within the organization have additional information regarding performance and availability of the systems, but these different groups and business process owners don’t have full visibility into the entire process.
Business process visibility allows end users to gather business information to improve non-IT related issues, helps enable fast determination to see if business issues are truly IT-related, ensures that IT is aligned with the business and helps improve overall business efficiency.
How is business process visibility achieved? It can be achieved and improved upon through workflow tools, enterprise content management tools and dashboards, to mention a few. The goals of business process visibility are to have visibility into every occurrence of a real business process, visibility into each activity that is part of the business process, visibility when there is an exception in performance, and for business and IT to collaborate more effectively. This is especially important for the line of business owners to have knowledge and apply that knowledge to the underlying processes and technologies that deliver value to the business. This will allow for a much more streamlined, profitable business environment.