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August 9

Business process management: a simple introduction guide

Creating and changing processes sounds big, doesn’t it?

Rest assured, it can be elementary, with a small-step approach.

Process management can be defined as a way to review and improve the steps of your business processes. By understanding how these processes work or don’t work, you can begin to see where there is room for improvement.

Please know that business process management is not about making thighs perfect, but rather about improving them. Even small improvements can make a big difference in your business.

You’re in the right place if you don’t know where to start! 

We’ll explain how you can get started in process management, and do it simply.

Outline of the article

  1. What is business process management?
  2. The importance of BPM
  3. Which types of processes need to be managed?
  4. The lifecycle of a process
  5. Best practices in business process management
  6. Turn your employees into process champions

Reading time: 7 minutes

What is business process management?

Business process management (BPM) is the process of creating, implementing, monitoring and improving business processes. This approach considers the entire process, from start to finish, and looks for ways to make it more efficient, yielding better results.

All the departments in your company have processes that can be documented and centralized!

Here are a few examples :

  • Production : Machine operation
  • Customer service : Customer appointment calls
  • Marketing : Marketing a new product
  • Human resources : Onboarding new employees
  • Executive management : Creating an annual budget

The importance of BPM

Why is business process management important?

Because it makes your business more efficient. 

And that is important!

A well-planned process can contribute to continuous improvement, reduced costs and delivery times. Inversely, poorly conducted processes potentially cause delays, errors and many other inconveniences that you would gladly do without.

Reduce time waste

When processes are well managed, they tend to run more smoothly. This inevitably saves your business time and money by reducing time and effort loss. 

For example, if you have a process set up for handling inquiries, each request is processed efficiently and in a timely manner. This reduces the time you spend on each request and can also reduce customer frustration by ensuring that requests are quickly processed. 

Minimize error risk

Another benefit of business process management is that it helps minimize error risks. 

For example, an expense approval process ensures that all necessary information is collected and reviewed before the report approval. This reduces the risk of approving incorrect or incomplete reports, which could lead to costly errors.

The end of blame culture

When everyone knows what their roles and responsibilities are, there is usually less blame when things go wrong.

For example, a complaint process allows everyone involved to know exactly what to do and whom to contact when complaints are received.

This minimizes accusations and blame, which sometimes (often) occur during problematic situations.

No more lack of data

Another problem that can be solved through BPM is the lack of data. It can be difficult to assess and track progress when processes are not properly managed. 

This usually leads to situations where data is not available for making informed decisions.

What happens when a manager has to authorize or refuse an employee’s leave, but does not have data on their vacation or sickness days bank?

The manager can make decisions that are not in the best interest of the company. On the other hand, if this process is optimized, the data is available and easily accessible.

A pleasant working atmosphere

A company that implements clear processes usually benefits from a more pleasant working environment.

When things work well, there is less stress and therefore fewer problems.

To get your employees involved in documenting their work, you can value their expertise and delegate the responsibility of creating processes. They will be more inclined to follow the processes if they have actively participated in their development!

Which types of processes need to be managed?

Most business processes can be conducted in more than one way. However, there are certain types of processes that it is particularly important to manage well.

Here are some of these essential process types:

  • Customer service processes
  • Sales processes
  • Marketing processes
  • Human Resources processes
  • Financial and accounting processes
  • Manufacturing and production processes

These processes can be grouped into three broad categories:

  1. Integration/system processes
  2. Human-centric processes
  3. Document-centric processes

Integration/system processes

These are the processes that involve interaction between systems. For example, a process that involves the transfer of data from a system is an integration, or system process.

By connecting systems, you can create a single source of information for all your data.

For example, you could connect your accounting system to your customer relations management system (CRM). This will allow you to see each customer’s financial data, as well as sales, marketing and support data.

To integrate multiple systems, you need to use process integration tools. These tools automate the data transfer process between systems.

Human-centric processes

These are processes that involve people. For example, a process that involves customer service is a human process. 

The key is to help employees better understand processes, and guide them through them.

Human processes are the most difficult to manage because they involve people and, unlike systems, people are unpredictable. However, human processes are also the most important part of a company, since they have a direct impact on all these aspects:

Document-centric processes

These processes involve… well, documents.

For example, a process that involves creating or approving a document is a document-centric process. This can be a product or service listing, a policy, a form, etc. 

The lifecycle of a process

All processes have a lifecycle. The lifecycle of a process is the series of steps between its creation and its completion. 

The lifecycle of a process typically includes the following steps:

  • Planning and design
  • Implementation
  • Execution
  • Monitoring and control
  • Optimization

Planning and creation: design

The first step in the process lifecycle is planning and design. At this point, the process is being designed and created. This generally involves: 

  1. Defining the goals of the process;
  2. Designing the process;
  3. Creating any documentation needed.

This documentation must then be shared with everyone involved and centralized in an easily accessible location.

Implementation

After designing a process, it must be implemented within the company and the relevant team. This process is applied during this phase and sometimes requires a change management strategy.

In the list of best practices, this step often requires: 

  • Training all employees involved in the process;
  • Implementing all required systems;
  • Testing the process to make sure it works as planned.

Execution

Once the process has been implemented, it must be executed. This is the stage where the process is actually being followed by a member of your team, who can give feedback. 

This is the crucial moment, since it is during the process execution phase that it yields its final results. 

Monitoring and control

Once the process has been executed, it is monitored and controlled. This involves following the process to make sure it is working properly and making the necessary changes, if needed.

All processes must be updated at one point or another.

How do you monitor and control a process?

There are many process management tools that you can use to do it. These tools help track process performance, identify problems, and make necessary changes.

Some of the most popular BPM tools include:

  • Process mapping tools
  • Process improvement tools
  • Process follow-up tools

Optimization

The last step of the process lifecycle is optimization. At this point, the goal is to improve the process and make it more efficient. 

This could include :

  1. Changes to the process itself
  2. Changes to specific systems of the process
  3. Changes to people involved in the process

Best practices in business process management

There are many things you can do to make sure your BPM is efficient.

Here are some of the most important process management practices:

  • Set clear goals
  • Create a process that aims to achieve these goals
  • Efficiently document each step
  • Train all employees involved
  • Centralize documentation for quick access
  • Test and track the process to make sure it works as planned
  • Make any changes needed, regularly

When considering its most fundamental elements, business process management turns out to be a pillar to improve the organization, efficiency and productivity of your company.

However, it is important to remember that BPM is not a miracle solution, it requires special attention and organization.

But it is oh, so worth it!

Turn your employees into process champions

Your employees hold your company’s in-house expertise and organizational memory: don’t risk losing it all! 

You should develop your employees into internal procedure champions and involve them in the content creation process. By sharing this task with your main employees, you ensure greater longevity for your team’s knowledge.

Engaged employees will be more inclined to adhering your BPM anyway.

Cynthia Richer

Cynthia Richer is a web writer and translator. She writes engaging content while respecting the personality of each company. She is passionate about human relations and, by the way, human resources!