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Is BPM really the third wave?

After ERP and CRM, is BPM really the third wave in IT Industry? Talk of BPM we hear different opinions. Some say it is nothing new, it has been there from ages; some say the market potential is $2 billion etc., essentially talking in terms of technological approach; some say there is so much yet to happen, talking from management approach. So it is worth to delve on it from both the perspectives because the way BPM is being adopted by companies is different, in reality.

From the technological approach, more and more companies are certainly adopting BPM tools. But usually they buy them for automating their As Is processes first. That gives them immediate chance to gain time. And usually the processes which they automate first are the core processes which are mostly customer processes. These are the processes which have extreme visibility in the organizations and usually found themselves overstaffed, experience long delays or large slippages or wastages in these chosen processes.

From the management approach, there are several global companies which have adopted it and implemented it. There are many companies which have conducted detailed analysis and re-design of their processes and gained in terms of time, cost and quality considerably. But the gain is by cutting down the “points of failure” or eradicating some duplicate sub-processes etc., in the existing business processes, not necessarily through automating the processes.

Though both help improve operational efficiency, the approaches taken to BPM are different. So, that leads to a question what is BPM. In fact, both cases are of BPM but not implemented in a holistic perspective. While the enterprises have choice to take any approach as a first step, either technological or management, it calls for taking the initiative to the next level once implemented in the first stage. To elaborate, the technological approach means that the automation has enabled the enterprise to become friendly enough for process-dissection and is ready for implementing the management approach, anytime. The companies, who have implemented as a management approach, are the ones who can take it to the next level on a technological approach, by automating the new processes.

But if someone asks, which approach should be adopted as a first step, it is not a straight answer. It merely depends on the business situation that a company is in. It makes sense to automate As Is processes first, so that Analysis and re-design can follow; resulting in improvement in process efficiency. But same route need not be taken, if the business situation is demanding an immediate revamp of existing processes; in which case the process analysis and design would be taken up first. Automating the business processes and also establishing a BPM organization structure for carrying out necessary analysis and design, on an on-going basis, becomes important for successful BPM implementation holistically.

As long as the user group and selling community, both believe that a holistic approach has to be taken, there is a lot to be done yet in BPM space. We have scratched only the surface. BPM can help enterprises in a true way, in the backdrop of present economic volatility and growing global competition; enterprises are under serious pressure for improving operational efficiencies, drastically. And there is no short way. Companies have to take it up, now or later. So the third wave may stay longer but market may experience more gradual growth, without much of high and low tides.

- Written by Chandrasekhar PS, a Certified Process Professional from BP Group

Synergy has been helping many clients implement BPM from last six years, whether it be a core process or support processes. Synergy carries over 200,000 manhours of BPM implementation. Synergy has been supporting clients in the entire BPM life cycle right from identifying right BPM software or tools, developing process models, Analysis of As-Is processes, Designing the new processes, Business Process Monitoring and implementing new BPM applications. In effect, Synergy has witnessed clients benefiting from drastic process improvements.

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