BPMS, BPM or iBPMS are so many acronyms but what on Earth do they all mean and what do they to help your business?
You have heard these are great tools to help with business processes and workflow but a little baffled to know what to look for.
Before we get onto the definition of BPMS - and what it stands for - let’s first look at BPM on its own. Standing for Business Process Management, BPM is a discipline to analyse, discover, model, improve, measure, and automate business processes. This is not necessarily achieved by one textbook method, but instead, a variety of methods are available.
The extra ‘S’ in BPMS, can stand for a number of different things. BPMS can be depicted as Business Process Management System, but also Business Process Management Suite, or Business Process Management software. Regardless of whichever word you choose for ‘S’, all BPM systems, software, or suites are designed to achieve the same thing - successful and productive business process management (BPM).
Before you get too comfortable, let’s throw in another letter - i.
iBPMS stands for ‘Intelligent Business Process Management System.’
To be defined as intelligent, a system needs to include one or more technologically advanced features. The characteristics that are classed as ‘intelligent’ include:
So, whereas a standard BPM system would automate a process, but not use any form of AI, an iBPM system would use AI to make decisions through rule programming and machine learning.
Take the process for a purchase order request as an example. The process can be automated, but it isn’t regarded as intelligent. It would involve online forms and instant notifications of Managers and Departments involved, but wouldn’t require the computer to have basic cognitive capabilities.
A chatbot, on the other hand, does. When you chat with a chatbot on a website or social media, you are chatting with a computer that has been programmed to respond to certain keywords in your question. It’ll ask you whether it’s answered your question correctly and if not, it’ll ask you another question until it has run out of responses and decides that you really need to speak to a human (human collaboration support).
What’s the difference between the two? Workflow is as it says on the tin - the movement (or the flow) of work from one person to another.
Imagine owning a bakery.
Each piece of bread made will follow a sequenced workflow, outlining each of the steps required to bake a saleable piece of bread. The recipe, baking instructions, time in the oven, quality control.
However, being a bakery, it is unlikely that there is just one type of bread sold. There will be cakes, pastries, drinks, snacks. There are also interactions with customers, cleaning, maintenance - all are different workflows that need to work together as smoothly as possible.
Furthermore, as the owner, you’d like to know a bit more. Customer waiting times. Food wastage. Things that you can look to improve on for the success of your business.
This is where BPM exceeds workflow management.
BPM takes a higher-level view, managing all the separate workflows together with the goal of reaching optimum efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity. As well as this, BPM encompasses the collection, analysis, and documentation of data - allowing for improvements to be made as a whole to the entire process system.
Depending on your needs and resources, either workflow or BPM software might provide the best fit for your business.
The focus of workflow software is on workflow organisation. This type of software will allow you to create conditional steps, parallel pathways, whilst also linking to other software. It is perfect for smaller, standalone projects, rather than processes that require organisation-wide collaboration.
BPM software, on the other hand, incorporates all aspects (including workflow management as a component) and is particularly useful to larger organisations with several teams, many employees, and/or a complex web of projects. Many ‘suites’ will allow you to visualise the health and prosperity of your business from one common dashboard too - an invaluable tool for the fast pace of modern-day business.
It’s all very well deciding you want to incorporate BPM systems into your business, but it then becomes of question of - which system? There are so many to choose from, all with a wide range of features, some of which may be suitable for your business, others, not so much.
First of all, you need to decide whether a BPM system is right for you at all. It’s a huge time and money commitment for the business, but generally, if any of the below apply to you, BPM could be your best option:
Now, let’s look at what exactly might aid your choice of software:
Identifying essential features
If your business is currently using multiple legacy systems, a crucial feature of a BPM system would be the ability to integrate systems smoothly, bringing all the data you need to one interface.
If your business frequently needs to liaise with external parties - customers, suppliers, etc - you need software that allows for interaction with them.
If your employees are often tied up with repetitive, mechanical work - RPA (a type of process automation) would be an obvious choice of feature for your system.
Do you get the idea?
Following on from your needs above, it can sometimes come down to one thing: Budget. Whoever it is that holds the purse strings - that’s who you’ll want to appeal to.
BPM systems aren’t cheap, they are an investment - and you’ll need to have the proposed values to the company at the ready. Generally, executives focus on revenue, while Management focuses on performance.
You’ll need to convince the executives that the ‘up’ in performance, will indeed, result in an ‘up’ in revenue.
However, as the choice is most likely out of your hands, at least with a figure you can narrow down your search to the available systems. Remember, even if a system is priced slightly higher than your budget, you might be able to negotiate a price. It’s always worth an ask.
Proactively use demos and prep your questions
Make the most of sales demos. This is a no-obligation time to really get a feel of the software and see if it would work for you. With the salesperson or demonstrator present, it gives you the perfect opportunity to enquire about the product. You can ask about their clientele who may be similar to you, or how they think the software will help you specifically.
Compare time frames and support standards
Don’t ignore the signs. If the software has a high drop-out rate, it’s normally because - while the salesperson says it’s easy to use - it likely isn’t. Don’t invest all your time into picking a really great system, only to fall at the not-so-user friendly hurdle.
The same goes for deployment times. Some software can take weeks or months to install. This can be really frustrating when you’ve prepped your employees for change. You’re not
That’s for you to decide as a business. It’s an investment, sure - but not all investments are profitable. Check out your options, do your research, and make a decision based on your findings.
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