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The Beginning of Our Journey through Business Process Management (BPM)

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Road in country setting.  We are taking a journey through BPM together.

I am still amazed daily at what technology has brought to our lives. For most organizations, gone are the days of everything on paper, plastic inboxes on our desks, filing cabinets ... well at least we hope that's the case. We can do more in drastically less time. But that doesn't mean things are running smoothly. There are still bottlenecks, disconnections and manual tasks and those disruptions ripple outwards, causing inefficiencies and potential revenue loss. In fact, we can feel overwhelmed at so much coming at us so quickly.

Addressing these issues within a department or specific software is a start, but in today's interconnected business landscape, the challenges often lie at the intersections between departments, and even between other organizations.

Business Process Management (BPM) can help address all these challenges. It goes beyond resolving isolated issues and looks at the holistic health of an organization. By automating, streamlining, and connecting processes across divisions and with external partners, BPM ensures that every part of the business works in tandem, eliminating costly disruptions. The added perk is it keeps you apprised of what is happening in your business, so if there are issues, you can react immediately.

Recognizing the Hidden Costs of Business As Usual

It's often said, "You don't know what you don't know." If you've grown accustomed to your current processes, or lack of processes, the idea of automating your business might not even be on your radar. After all, you've managed with the periodic hiccups like delays in sending invoices or chasing after payments that are due. And let's not forget the missed opportunities when web leads aren't promptly pursued, or the chaotic dance that is your employee on-boarding process.

Perhaps you've taken a stab at automation. There’s that A/P tool integrated with your ERP, the marketing automation solution, and another tool enhancing your CRM's sales process. While these are commendable steps, they don’t provide a holistic solution. Plus, the cost of maintaining multiple tools can quickly add up.

Ever had a conversation similar to this one? “I just had an irate customer on the line. Their shipment, which was due last week, hasn’t arrived and they haven't heard anything.” countered with, “I had no idea it was delayed; it looks like a part was on backorder.”

Have you thought about how much these types of situations cost your company? The reduction in frustration for your team, customers and prospects alone should spark some curiosity into finding a resolution.

What is Business Process Management?

I could write a book, probably several, on Business Process Management. Not only the tools but the practice itself. In one sentence, BPM empowers you to extract data from your entire ecosystem, refine it to your needs, set rules, and then take action.

I asked ChatGPT what it thought …

"BPM, or Business Process Management, is a systematic approach to designing, analyzing, executing, monitoring, and optimizing core business processes for improved efficiency and effectiveness."

I like mine better. But it’s vague either way.

I guess the best place to start is with an example. How about the customer life cycle?

Lead management: A lead comes in from your web site. BPM can take the prospect and enter them into your CRM and based on their location, assign the correct regional sales rep to the account. In addition, it can attach the prospect to a marketing cycle or simply schedule a follow up call for their account rep. Delays in the prospect outreach? You can be notified of that as well.

Prospect to Customer: Once the prospect becomes a customer in your CRM the BPM Workflow can take the customer record and enter it into your ERP. If there are any closed opportunities or quotes you can choose to create the invoice in the ERP and deliver to the customer, additionally logging that invoice into the CRM with attachments.

Customer management: Later, when the customer needs assistance, the BPM can check to see if invoices are paid in the ERP when a ticket is created in the help system then notify the appropriate team members if they are outstanding. Service calls can also be logged into the CRM with automatic surveys sent to the customer after the service is complete.

In this scenario the CRM is the single source of truth and everything you need to know about the customer is in one place.

That seems like a lot, but truly it is only scratching the surface. The wonderful thing is that each step is an individual workflow, and they are all tied together and dependent on each other, so you can start slowly and build your processes step by step. Uncomfortable with automation? You can be as involved as you wish until you are comfortable that everything is running smoothly. For example, the BPM can send invoices to the person who usually enters them for review before sending. Once they become comfortable with the system’s accuracy, they can have the invoices sent directly to the customer. That’s the beauty of BPM, it’s flexibility to enable you to start or improve your existing automation in your own unique way at your own pace.

The Real Magic

I've been offering automation solutions for front and back-office systems for 26 years. That means salesperson, not blog writer, so bear with me. There is one thing that is consistent, and it is what keeps me really excited about what I do. That moment when the penny drops for a customer and they say, "You mean I can automate ...?" and it gets even better in that moment when they realize it is not going to simply address the business pain that brought them to a conversation with me, but all the other problems they can solve as well. That light bulb moment.

These individuals don’t just become clients – they become BPM evangelists. Whether they build their own processes or lean on their partners, moving forward they see challenges through the lens of BPM.

Obviously not everyone jumps on the BPM bandwagon, but a customer simply installing a prebuilt workflow that automates their collections, and then forgets they have the solution while it runs in the background, has paid for their time and financial investment within months. BPM even in its simplest form typically has an extremely good ROI, reduction in working hours, and an increase in customer satisfaction.

I hope you come on this journey with me to learn about BPM. We will explore together the technical aspects of BPM, learn about similar technologies and how they differ, discover countless stories of how customers are utilizing the practice of automating, and the tools they use in their organizations. We will discuss planning, building, and maintaining workflows as your business grows or your ecosystem changes. Hopefully along the way there will be a few more BPM evangelists created, and they contribute their stories of how BPM has changed their business.

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