Business process management and its precursors have been around for decades. In recent years, however, the use of BPM and the tools that enable it have seen significant change, supported by advances in robotic process automation, process mining, and development platforms. low code. Gartner has gone so far as to create a new concept called hyperautomation to characterize the cutting edge of scalable business process automation.
While BPM isn’t quite as sexy — or generally trendy — as cutting-edge automation technology, it does play a crucial role in ensuring businesses automate the right things. In addition, the tools supporting BPM’s own processes are becoming more and more automated, intelligent and user-friendly. This opens the doors to a much wider audience of business users to participate in improving business processes in a way that reflects the trend of citizen developers in IT. BPM’s greater sophistication, scope, and metrics also give business process experts the ability to deliver more meaningful results.
What is the future of BPM?
Here are six specific ways BPM is changing in the enterprise.
1. Citizen development tools, automation lead to the democratization of BPM
Improving business processes – the goal of BPM – has traditionally been driven by expensive process experts dissecting opportunities for change. These ideas have not always been accepted by the managers or users involved in executing these changes. The next wave of BPM could benefit from greater participation across the organization.
“The future of BPM is really a cultural shift driven by three pillars in particular,” said Dr. Setrag Khoshafian, Director and Chief Scientist of Khosh Consulting and author of How to Ease Digital Transformation Debt. These three pillars are:
- First, citizen developer-centric BPM tools enable more users in the organization to identify, implement, and measure process improvement ideas with railings.
- Second, process automation on steroids simplifies the creation of BPM robot workers that are nearly indistinguishable from human workers through intelligent process labor management.
- Third, full-cycle process mining will make it easier for users to discover and improve process maps without the help of process experts. It will also make it easier for process experts to put in place the appropriate safeguards for the wider use of these tools. But it’s an area that still needs more work, Khoshafian warned.
He also expects new digital enablers, like IoT, augmented and virtual reality, and blockchain, to expand the realm of BPM.
2. Intelligent business process automation increases process efficiency
Early BPM software made it easy to create process diagrams and maps, but it was up to the developers to put those process designs into practice. This added delays and created issues when cards and apps got out of sync.
“BPM can no longer stand alone as it has in the past,” explained Dana Daher, senior research analyst in the CIO practice at Info-Tech Research Group.
Technological advancements have pushed the company towards intelligent business process automation that embeds AI, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA) into the fabric of processes to improve efficiency. These intelligent systems will integrate data to provide better insights over time.
3. Integrating BPM functionality into software platforms extends its reach
According to Isaac Gould, research manager at Nucleus Research, an IT consulting service, the trend of deploying platforms that allow companies to consolidate much of their IT stack under a single vendor offering will increase the use of BPM. . “BPM functionality will soon be widely available for SMBs and large enterprises.”
Major software vendors, such as Oracle, Workday, Salesforce, Microsoft, and SAP, already offer BPM functionality as part of their platforms. With the rise of low-code development platforms and integration platforms, companies will no longer need to find BPM-specific solutions.
“Organizations embarking on a digital transformation initiative should consider BPM functionality and the roadmap of their potential technology platforms,” Gould said.
4. Automated process discovery provides a comprehensive enterprise-wide process map
John Blankenbaker, senior data scientist at SSA & Company, a global management consulting firm, believes that the advent of automated process discovery will be the most significant advancement for BPM.
The first embodiment of process mining tools analyzed the log files of a single critical system, such as an ERP platform, to understand which business units accessed and updated which data, allowing organizations to build an image of the commercial activity. This approach has evolved into a place where the actions of multiple systems are put together to determine how data flows, providing a comprehensive blueprint of an organization’s processes.
The offline actions of human actors in a process have yet to be discovered through traditional interviews and observations. However, as more process steps move online, keyloggers and location trackers can capture more manual processes.
Building a coherent process map from a series of events is complex. It helps that most business processes are roughly similar. The biggest differences are in how things are named. Blankenbaker expects to see improvements in machine learning techniques that look for recurring patterns to help harmonize different naming conventions between similar processes. This will make it easier to understand how the process works and how to optimize it.
5. Adaptive process management supports agile and iterative process modeling
In the beginning, business process modeling was mainly handled by simple flowcharts. They are highly structured visual representations of a mostly inflexible sequence of activities. Flowcharts are a great tool for ensuring consistent execution of the steps in a highly regulated process.
“As the field evolved, BPM system vendors realized that, in practice, most processes did not always follow exactly the same sequence of steps,” said practice partner Donncha Carroll. revenue growth from Axiom Consulting Partners, leading its data science center. of excellence.
For example, a customer’s onboarding process for an enterprise software vendor may differ depending on the complexity of the software configuration, systems integration needs, and user types. The sequence of activities in this integration process would vary in ways not initially known.
Adaptive process management can adapt to dealing with unknown factors that become apparent during process execution. Tools like Oracle Integration Cloud already allow users to model structured and unstructured business processes. As these same BPM systems grow in sophistication, they will also be used as an orchestration layer, calling upon other applications, ranging from legacy tools to RPA software to AI or licensed applications. , such as ERP systems.
“This feature evolution will not only greatly enhance the flexibility of these systems, but also the power and reach of process automation,” Carroll said.
6. BPM focuses on engagement systems, customer and employee experience
Early BPM efforts focused on how processes moved data to and from systems of record. Improvements in BPM capabilities will facilitate the improvement of processes that interact with systems of engagement.
Anthony Macciola, chief innovation officer at Abbyy, expects that as companies increasingly view customer and employee experience as a critical competitive differentiator, they will embrace BPM for dynamic front-end process monitoring, more than for backend systems.
This will improve both the customer and employee experience. BPM’s focus on front-end processes will continue to grow as AI, chatbots, and interactive mobile apps increase the number of ways customers and employees interact with businesses.