Various BPM solutions can be implemented for business workflows as per the unique requirements of the organization. The benefits of implementing BPMN exercises and solutions can be applied across the organization. However, before implementing the BPM solution, it must first be determined if the process is suitable for BPM and whether the business can enjoy tangible benefits by implementing the solution. Here are some of the business processes that can benefit from implementing BPM solutions.
* Accounts payable and accounts receivable
* CapEx approvals
* Finance approvals
* Enterprise integrations
* Human resource management processes
* Facilities management
* Compliance management
* Procurement management
* Supply chain and inventory management
Need for BPM
During the initial growing stage of a business, following old-fashioned ways of running a business may work well. However, as the business grows, the processes grow in their complexity. Archaic manual methods like exchanging business data via Excel sheets or passing clipboards to get approvals may not be effective. Easy and simple as they may seem, manual methods are not effective at scale. Moreover, the lack of standardization makes it difficult to measure critical performance metrics.
Archaic methods are prone to human errors and bias. The errors and inconsistencies that occur in manual processes put the business at a risk. Redundancy in business processes brings down the quality of customer service. To stay competitive, businesses need to improve their customer experience and adhere to compliance standards. Businesses cannot deliver superior standards of customer experience by using manual processes. Old-fashioned methods to run a business are characterized by the exchange of information via emails and paperwork. The sheer volume of email exchanges between the stakeholders increases the chances of misplacement or missing information. The high volume of paperwork poses an issue in terms of storage and likely damage to important business data.
BPM solutions address all of the above shortcomings of manual processes. BPM methodologies complemented by low-code automation software like Cflow can improve business processes and bring about best practices in day-to-day work practices. When BPM solutions are properly implemented, the productivity of business processes improves significantly and errors, risks, and costs are minimized.
Key Features of BPM Software
Most of the BPM solutions available in the market offer a standard set of features for streamlining key business processes. Some of the common features of BPM software are:
Automation of processes – BPM software must help in managing the transfer of tasks between employees.
Business rules – Preset business rules govern the sequence of business processes. For example: if event A occurs, then proceed as usual; and if event B occurs then end the process. Exception handling must be taken care of by the software.
Process monitoring and feedback – BPM software must provide visibility into all the tasks of the process. Users must get a top-down view of the performance of all processes, deadlines, and bottlenecks.
Drag and drop builder – The software must provide an easy-to-use drag-and-drop form builder. A visual form builder simplifies the task of creating forms.
Pricing – As with any investment, the purchase of BPM software must provide value for the money invested. The terms and conditions stipulated during software purchase must be clear and transparent. The break-up of installation, maintenance, and support costs must be clarified by the software provider.
Software integrations – The BPM solution will not operate as a stand-alone system. It must be able to seamlessly integrate with other business software already in use. Smooth integration with other systems ensures the easy exchange of information between the systems.
Admin features – The software must provide an in-house admin feature that allows the admin to adjust tasks, forms, and items as required. Role-based access control must be provided by the software so that information is protected from unauthorized usage or viewing.
Customized alerts and notifications – The automation software must issue alerts and notifications to appropriate stakeholders in the process to intimate them of approaching approval deadlines or pending reviews or approvals.
How to Automate Business Processes
Implementing a BPM solution requires careful study of existing processes via process mapping. Mapping existing processes helps in identifying the bottlenecks and tasks that are ideal for automation. The lifecycle of a BPM solution is described below:
This step involves identifying existing processes and your to-be processes. The existing processes with the steps are mapped using visual flow diagrams or flow charts. The entire process is mapped along with factors like alerts, notifications, escalations, and SOPs. All types of processes, human-to-human, human-to-system, or system-to-system can be mapped using visual flow diagrams.
Once the process is mapped, the next step is to create various models that explore how the process would operate under different circumstances. This can be done by varying the input and the conditions under which the process operates.
The process to be automated is mapped completely. The mapping includes details like which process to be automated, where and to whom the tasks will be routed, and the possible outcomes of every task. The team will be ready to build the new automated process equipped with all these details. Workflow automation software like Cflow enables no-code mapping of process workflows. The visual workflow builder in Cflow enables even team members without technical backgrounds to create process workflows easily.
The workflow software provides a visual dashboard that enables team members and management to monitor and track the status of the process. The visual interface allows users to locate requests in real-time, detect process gaps, and analyze process bottlenecks.
The newly automated process must be assessed continuously and performance must be measured in order to make improvements. Process performance must be retrieved with relevant reports to identify potential opportunities for further cost and time savings. Constant monitoring of process performance helps in optimizing the process.
While monitoring the new process it is possible that the team realizes that there could be more efficient ways of executing the process or some unnecessary steps that need to be removed. The monitoring and optimization phase helps identify the extraneous steps when removed from the process to improve its efficiency and productivity.
How to Choose the Right BPM Solution
The choice of the BPM software impacts the success of implementation. The success of various BPMN exercises and solutions has a direct bearing on the rate of ROI of the software. It is not enough if you choose a feature-rich BPM solution alone, it must also cater to the requirements of your business. There are several BPM solutions providers in the market. Here are a few pointers that will help you choose the right BPM solution for your business.
What is the level of automation that the software provides?
The main intent of going for BPM solutions is to relieve human resources from mundane, admin tasks. The level of automation provided by the BPM solution determines the extent to which team members are relieved from such activities. When more steps/tasks are automated by the software, the time and cost savings for the business are proportionally more. The BPM software available in the market is specifically designed to suit the requirements of small-, mid-, and large-scale businesses. Choose the right one as per the nature and size of your business.
Does it provide the dynamic approval feature?
Most business workflows get stuck at the approval stage when the approver fails to notice the pending approval or misses the deadline for approval. By providing the dynamic approval feature, the need for manual review and approval is avoided. The request is reviewed based on preset business rules that are provided in the software and approved or rejected automatically without the intervention of the employees. The dynamic approval feature saves the team a lot of time and costs by approving requests on time.
Are electronic forms available for gathering data?
Gathering important customer data via electronic forms is very useful for the business. Updating and storing electronic forms is easy and effective. Customer data can be retrieved and referenced at any time conveniently by extracting relevant forms from the database. The BPM solution must provide electronic forms for gathering customer data.
How is business activity monitored?
The BPM solution must provide business activity monitoring (BAM) features that enable the entire team to stay updated on the status of process/project requests. A user-friendly interface must provide the business activity monitoring data in a clear and concise format that everyone can understand. The BAM dashboard must be devoid of complex abbreviations or notations that confuse the users.
Are there automated notifications and alerts issued?
BPM software must issue alerts and notifications automatically to garner the attention of the user. Any exception or unusual activity must be flagged off and notified to the user so that appropriate action is taken. Automated notifications and reminders to stakeholders in charge of request approvals ensure that invoices and other approvals happen on time and the process is not delayed or stuck due to delayed approvals.
Is the pricing policy transparent?
The business process management solution must be value for money. The pricing terms and conditions must be accurately declared to the customer prior to investment. There should be no hidden costs in the pricing of the software. If there are any discounts or rebates on the price of the software, they must be communicated duly to the customer. Similarly, any increase in the price of the software must be informed before the renewal of the purchase contract so that the customer can make an informed purchase decision.
Is the software customizable and flexible to suit specific business requirements?
One of the most important features of workflow automation software is customization and flexibility. The automation solution must be easily customizable according to the requirements of the business. The rules engine of the workflow software must be customizable to accommodate preset business rules that run the processes. Also, as the business scales up, the software must be flexible enough to accommodate the new, upgraded business requirements.