Business Process Management

Businesses across the world are undergoing difficult times that call for well articulated measures to ensure that they sustain operating in a highly competitive environment. It is not only the competition that business managers are worrying about, but also the global financial crisis and the ongoing European economic crisis. There is also the issue of technological dynamism that is threatening certain businesses with a failure if they do not catch up with the trend. It is upon this premise that businesses are trying out various models to help them to maneuver in unfavorable environment. As a matter of interest, different business organizations use various approaches in ensuring that the objectives of the business are met at the minimum cost. This paper discusses Business Process Management (BPM) in comparison with Business Process Reengineering (BPR), bringing out their fundamental differences in terms of advantages and disadvantages. The paper also explores the importance of change management in implementing BPM and BPR projects.

According to Jeston & Nelis (2008), Business Process Management (BPM) is a cyclic process that businessmen use in trying to achieve efficiency, effectiveness, and flexibility. It includes analyzing, re-designing, implementing, documenting, monitoring, controlling, and measuring of business processes in automated or non-automated environment. Jeston & Nelis (2008) note that BPM, being a cyclic process, goes through various steps from the vision of the process to its optimization, with each step executed in accordance with the existing business needs. As such, BPM has vital components that must be observed in the process of executing it in a business environment.

Weske (2010) argues that for BPM to be efficient,  there is a need to have an explicit process which acts as the engine and is based on the applications and existing business needs. Similarly, he notes that BPM requires that business managers analyze the issues, trends and opportunities concerning the business so as to figure out the best strategy. Moreover, BPM requires a well planned process of managing content, ensuring that electronics, files, and images are safely stored. Additionally, Weske (2010) notes that BPM provides tools for undisrupted communication, either intra or interdepartmental, by utilizing sessions such as discussion forums, non static workspaces, and message boards.

According to Weske (2010), Business Process Reengineering (BPR) was popularized by Michael Hammer and James Champy in their book, Reengineering the Corporation. Fundamentally, BPR does not greatly differ from BPM, only on the basis that BPM involves analyzing and redesigning of the work flow in and between business enterprises. As a management process, BPR differs from BPM in a way that the former can encompass unrelated enterprises provided they are doing business together. According to Weske (2010), BPR is founded on the principles of radical redesigning and reorganization of a business enterprise so as to lower the operational costs, increase the quality of service, and time management. In achieving radical changes, information technology must be embraced as a highway to these changes.

Apart from the main principle of embracing information technology as the flagship of BPR, Weicher & Chu (2009) identify several other principles on which the process is founded. For instance, the process involves organizing the activities of an enterprise around outcomes, not tasks. Similarly, emphasis is put on the identification of all processes within an organization with the aim of prioritizing them in accordance to their urgency. Additionally, BPR involves the integration of information processing with the actual work which produces information. It is also common for BPR to consider geospatial resources as a centralized unit to enhance their utilization, and also linking of parallel activities in the workflow, as opposed to integrating results. Weicher & Chu (2009) argue that BPR has the tendency to put decisional points in a manner as to allow the work to be performed by building controls in the process. As a matter of recording, BPR emphasizes the capturing of information once it’s produced at the source.

Advantages and Disadvantages of BPM and BPR

According to Weske (2010), BPM and BPR should be well regarded as compliments rather than substitutes, as they both aim at ensuring that the business utilizes its resources with maximal returns and at the minimal costs. In essence, the two are aimed at contributing to the value adding to the organization. However, even though BPR received good share of hype and excitement when it first came into limelight, it has failed to take off because the management of many businesses showed resistance to change. Besides, they had big and unrealistic expectations which were supposedly to be delivered instantly.

Nevertheless, Weicher & Chu (2009) observe that BPM provided a flexible approach to issues in an organization, allowing it go through one process at a time. This ensured that the process automates and simplifies the organization’s operations. Comparing the two processes, Weicher & Chu (2009) argue that less risks and expenses are posed to the organization during implementation of BPM as opposed to BPR. BPM also contributes directly to the satisfaction of the customer through immediate action, hence, making it more identifiable with customers who are the mainstay of organizations in business environment. It also allows automation and reusing of the existing processes in the organization. This, in turn, allows for a step by step departure from a process which is not needed in the system. Weicher & Chu (2009) observe that this is advantageous, as it allows for processes and people in the organization to deal with the aftershock of any change in business.

Similarly, Weske (2010) suggests that BPM allows sustainable and continuous improvement. As such, it advocates for incorporating information technology and the business objectives and mission to ensure that they are in tandem with the current situation in the market. BPM also allows implementation of one or more processes at the same time, thus, utilizes the limited time that may be available. It also leads to asset optimization without necessity of lay offs of employees or any other assets of the organization. However, Weske (2010) notes that one of the greatest advantages, is that BPM does not advocate for change of culture in the organization but instead advocates for better ways of improving the existing culture. He argues that this allows the managers and employees in an organization to easily identify with the process. It, thus, makes it possible to continue operating without imposing new practices to the operation mechanisms within the organization.

Moreover, Smith & Fingar (2006) note that well implemented BPM ensures that transparency is increased within the organization, applications are convenient for the customers and other users, and that there is flexibility and agility in the adjusting of the processes at the operational levels, besides the reporting and analysis options at the process level. With all this taken into consideration, Smith & Fingar (2006) argue that BPM contributes to the increased productivity in the organization, as well as edging its competitive advantage, especially to those organizations that have successfully implemented this management process.

On the other hand, BPR advocates for drastic changes, which are more expensive compared to BPM, and proposes changes in the cultural aspects of an organization. Weicher & Chu (2009) note that BPR required concerted management commitment and leadership style, which was rather difficult to be attained by many managers in 1990’s.  Additionally, Weicher & Chu (2009) observe that BPR exposes an organization to high risks, for example, a continued waiting for the complexion of a single process can mean that other processes become stagnated, which can be costly to the company in terms of returns. As compared to BPM, BPR takes a longer period of time for implementation to make impact. In return, the organization can become redundant in its operations and activities. Hence, the process turns out as detrimental to the business. Furthermore, Ahmad, Francis & Zairi (2007) note that BPR does not emphasize the inclusion of information technology in the monitoring and implementation of work flow as a major component of organization’s operations. Irrespective of all these weaknesses, Weske (2010) argues that BPR has the advantage of scrutinizing the processes in the organization right from the beginning and, thus, eliminates the processes which act as barriers for the business growth.

Critical Success Factors of BPM and BPR

According to Ahmad, Francis & Zairi (2007), the main premise in the success of BPM is the existence of the fit between the business environment and business processes. It is as a result of this fit that the BPM allows continuous improvement and also the proper fit between business process tasks and existing information systems in the organizations. This mutual interaction of the business environment and the business processes ensures that each procedure is well calculated before it is taken up. For instance, evaluation will ensure that steps such as designing and modeling are taken into account and considered well before they are embarked on. This helps to avoid setbacks during the implementation of the BPM.

Ahmad, Francis & Zairi (2007) observe that BPM as a management process has widely acclaimed factors on which it is hinged. According to Weske (2010), BPM takes into consideration the vision of the organization as the starting point of its implementation. Additionally, BPM emphasizes the designing and modeling of the process of management as it provides the management with a blueprint in its implementation. Weicher & Chu (2009) note that modeling is important for the success of the management process, as it gives the managers the outlook on the outcome and, therefore, enables to make changes where necessary. Similarly, BPM ensures that the vision is executed through provision of the mechanisms and procedures outlined as guidelines in the implementation of the process (Weicher & Chu, 2009).

As part of ensuring the success of the process, BPM emphasizes the inclusion of a robust platform in modeling and executing the process; the platform is based on the business rules, objectives, vision, and mission. Weicher & Chu (2009) in their study found that BPM encourages the analysis of the business as an organization, so as to let the management identify the trends, opportunities, and issues in order to document those. In addition, the model allows for management of the content with the aim of providing storage. Furthermore, BPM uses the collaborative tools in implementing communication between departments and among departments in an organization, or even beyond the organization if the subject is of concern to the success of the organization.

On the other hand, Weicher & Chu (2009) cite a study indicating that the success of BPR was hinged on the implementation of simple processes based on the quality, flexibility, and service of the process. Its focus on the removal of non value added activities necessitates the management to apply this concept  on practice, as it promised to cut down on the costs involved in the management through the elimination of those activities. BPR also ensures that the decisions made are an integral part of the process. This allows each decision to be evaluated against the existing problem to avoid making decisions that will be controversial to the implementation of the process.

Challenges to Successful Implementation of BPM

Jeston & Nelis (2008) have noted that BPM, like any other model of management, has faced overwhelming challenges in its implementation. These range from the usual resistance to change and lack information on the resourcefulness of the process to financial constraints by organizations that are willing to implement the process.  They observe that most managers did not have or better still do not have a slightest idea on how the process can be started and followed up to the optimization stage. It is, therefore, required that such managers were monitored by whoever is initiating the process in the organization. This has made the process quite costly and, therefore, abandoned before the final stage.

Another challenge to the implementation of BPM is the fear of the effect that the process is going to have on the organization as a unit. Jeston & Nelis (2008) note most people, especially the managers and employees, tend to be resistant to any changes whether good or bad and they would do anything to frustrate these changes. As a result, many organizations have failed to implementat their BPM initiatives simply because the people in the organization were afraid of the outcome. Studies have shown that implementing a BPM becomes even more difficult in organizations where the people have not been given enough information on the reasons or the benefits of participating in ensuring that Business Process Management is successfully implemented.

Furthermore, Jeston & Nelis (2008) indicate that implementing a BPM initiative can be taxing on the part of the management, as it calls for close monitoring of the progress which may not appeal to many people. For instance, he argues that the process requires the definition of stakeholders in the process in terms of BPM project methodology, BPM governance, and BPM governance suite to achieve successful implementation. In all these segments, the impementation of BPM requires the coordination between different departments and people, as well as different system applications and sources of information.

Additionally, Weicher & Chu (2009) note that most BPM initiatives are projects of second part and, therefore, cooperation between these parties is very important in achieving the results. However, this has not been the case in many organizations that have tried to implement BPM, as commitment is sometimes lacking from the second part. A perfect corporation would be where the projects are prioritized in accordance with the business strategies and information technology aspects, and are managed effectively throughout the lifecycle (Weicher & Chu, 2009). Similarly, there is a need for deliberate efforts to ensure that dependent and potential synergies are detected and addressed throughout the process of BPM execution. Finally, implementing BPM requires that business and technical standards are clearly defined and adhered to throughout the whole process. All these can only be possible if they are supported by result minded organizations.

Importance of Change Management in the Success of BPM and BPR Projects

Like any new venture, BPM and BPR projects pose a psychological challenge to the management. This is because of the uncertainty over the outcome of the projects. Weicher & Chu (2009) observe that managements in various organizations can prepare for BPM and BPR projects through education sessions such as seminars and trainings, and even the use of models where the projects have been successfully implemented.

To ensure the success of BPM and BPR projects, change management is important, since it helps to align the management for the new venture. Weicher & Chu (2009) suggest that change management assists in identifying and prioritizing projects for implementation. In such way; value management, strategy alignment, and management evolution are made ready for the implementation of BPM. Additionally, change in management will ensure that project monitoring and reporting are made at the agreed time. Weske (2010) argues that changes in management help to administrate organization’s artifacts in terms of process, environment, and application.  Consequently, a reformed management, which is committed to bringing the project to accomplishment through laid down procedures, should be well acquainted with changes and possible outcomes. Thus it is a strategy of implementing the BPM through the commitment of the management team.

Another importance of change management, according to Smith & Fingar  (2006), is that it prepares the organization for the transfer from the used system to the new system. As indicated by Smith & Fingar (2006), BPM requires that operational procedures in an organization undergo systematic and radical changes, which are likely to have long term effect on the productivity of the organization. This may happen in between the implementation processes. However, change management is important as it ensures that the whole team in the organization is well aware of the new system of management prior to its implementation.

The Role of HR in BPM

According to Smith & Fingar  (2006), implementing BPM can be an expensive venture to most organizations. Consequently, it has the effect of discouraging many organizations to shy away from trying BPM. Smith & Fingar  (2006) found out that the onus is with the Human Resource (HR) to provide an avenue that will be friendly to the accounts of the organization. Being an interested player, HR is mandated with bringing manpower on board. Such people should posses relevant expertise and experience in ensuring that BPM is implemented within the planned period.

As a matter of importance, Smith & Fingar  (2006) state that HR plays the role of accelerating operational improvement when it comes to implementing a BPM project. In this case, they conclude that the HR has to decide between core and non core activities while overseeing the implementation of BPM. This may call for the HR to pay less attention to some of the administrative responsibilities which do not support the project at hand. Instead, HR plays an active role in bringing on board people with vast experience in the area of BPM, as well as people who can engage with line managers. Besides, HR has the responsibility of reviewing the progress of the implementation of BPM project through investigating attitudes and skills, as well as check if the roles are being redesigned throughout the process. This evaluation role is important insofar as costs are concerned, since it will help to address the hiccups before the optimization of the BPM project (Smith & Fingar, 2006).

Process Automation

Since BPM emphasizes the use of information technology in its implementation, Ahmad, Francis & Zairi (2007) argue that having an automated approach will be a pertinent issue in achieving an effective and efficient BPM project. This is because automation will allow for the integration of the latest technology tools in managing operations in an organization. For instance, migration from the existing content management system in an organization is likely to arouse enthusiasm in the team and, thus, encourage commitment to the project. Likewise, automation will contribute to the reduction of the costs associated with implementing an effective BPM. However, if not well managed, automation can threaten the implementation, especially if the organization lacks relevant expertise in managing automated systems. Equally, the initial costs to acquiring new equipments for automating can also be taxing to the financial standing of the organization.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, managing business is a venture that organizations have to undertake in order to capitalize on the benefits associated with best practices in management. Business Process Management and Business Process Reengineering come out as models that can help to achieve good business management. With its principles of vision, redesigning, monitoring, evaluation and optimization, BPM promises to transform the way businesses operate with the minimum costs and a lifelong experience that guarantees business success. Business Process Reengineering, on the other hand, seeks to transform the workflow procedures within the shortest time possible to allow the organization to enjoy the benefits without delays.

Order now

Related essays