While interest in business process management is growing, many folks appear to still be struggling with how to define BPM. A recent NewsFactor Network article offered this definition: "a blending of machine-to-machine and human-to-machine connections to improve efficiency."
Frankly, that left us still scratching our heads. Fortunately, well-known process improvement expert Kiran Garimella helped clear things up for us in this recent IT Business Edge interview. As he describes it, BPM is a way to bring together IT, business and process improvement experts. In essence, he says, this forces alignment between IT and the business. BPM also enables companies to combine disparate types of data from throughout the business into a single meta-model. The result: an IT department immensely more responsive to business needs, and business divisions with the ability to make quicker, better decisions.
In a process-oriented environment, Garimella says, employees are freed from dealing with non-essential tasks, so they can focus their attention on areas where it really matters.
This is exactly the result enjoyed by some early adopters of BPM, including British company MSB International. According to a recent onrec.com article, MSB uses BPM to enable a key strategy: IT systems should support business processes, rather than the other way around. The company saved an impressive $188,000 from a single application by freeing 200 users from 4,000 hours of process implementation tasks.