Over the past few years, more and more enterprises have been turning to Business Process Management (BPM) to help drive efficiency in across their organisations. Indeed, the acronym BPM is now as well-known in the business community as ERP and CRM, with adoption approaching the same levels of ubiquity. Today almost every major bank in the world uses BPM to define and manage essential processes across their business.
Some industry commentators however believe that BPM has hit a “plateau of productivity”, with questions being asked about what exactly the next stage in the evolution of BPM could be. How can BPM get off this plateau and start unlocking new layers of value within the enterprise?
Typically, BPM has been used by businesses for standalone projects designed to address particular issues. The next step for BPM is for businesses to truly embrace a ‘culture of BPM’ and implement programmes that cross business sectors and bring benefits to the company’s total bottom line.
For the next stage of BPM adoption to happen there needs to be a shift, both in how businesses look at BPM and how BPM is delivered. Firstly, businesses must instil a process-driven culture throughout their organisation before the true benefits of BPM can be realised. Any culture change comes with growing pains – cultural shift is not something that happens overnight and often requires unfamiliar areas of the business to work together to achieve results.
Secondly, the delivery of BPM must be simplified. In both of these areas, vendors can guide and consult, making the transition more seamless and effective. One of the key ways this can be enabled is through the implementation of ‘patterns of expertise’ – essentially pre-defined, best-practice templates – which can significantly minimise the potential complexity of a BPM deployment.
This is what makes patterns of expertise so exciting for CIOs and IT managers who may have previously been daunted by the prospect of a large, cross-divisional roll-out of BPM. Patterns of expertise represent the collective knowledge of dozens or even hundreds of process patterns captured from previous real world engagements.
By integrating this knowledge into a ‘ready to go’ process optimised for the workload it will be running, enormous productivity and efficiency gains can be made. What’s more, the entire pattern of expertise is simpler because it is operated, managed and continuously improved as a single process.
Patterns of expertise accelerate the set-up of complex, high availability environments via pre-optimised pathways and processes. They reduce the burden of traditional configuration and deployment challenges and enable businesses to focus critical resources on value- add activities and not on installation and configuration. A BPM pattern not only enables quick set-up, but also facilitates the rapid scaling of BPM throughout an organisation.
Patterns of expertise are designed to be easily adopted, implemented and replicated from one project to another. Within a single pattern is contained the development, test and production environments rolled into one solution. Enterprise can implement these working patterns quickly and efficiently and then repeat the process in other areas of the business.
The benefits of having BPM patterns in place are potentially huge to a business. For example, policies can be set within the pattern to automatically add more nodes, more processers or memory when servers reach 80% capacity. This kind of automation frees up the precious time of IT staff who can work on other tasks such as application development. Automation is also typically a more reliable system than human monitoring, thereby reducing margins of error.
BPM patterns are pre-wired and optimised to be fast and reliable. Patterns can be deployed on legacy systems or on ‘plug-and play’ hardware platforms with their own server environment – this latter option requires very little user input, which means that patterns can be up and running in a matter of hours. Technology is also being piloted that will see patterns being delivered via the cloud.
The fact that BPM can deliver significant benefits to the enterprise is already clear – for example, analyst firm Gartner found that 78 per cent of BPM projects saw an internal rate of return (IRR) of greater than 15 per cent. But there are still greater gains to be made; the sooner that organisations take the next step in BPM evolution – the implementation of BPM patterns of expertise across the business – the sooner they will unlock the true potential of automation and process to drive efficiencies and increase focus on value-add activities.