BPM systems – automation of business processes

The most modern companies in the world

Since the 1970s and the triumph of the Silicon Valley companies in the corporate world, it can be said that the key to success and profits gained mainly lies in technology. Innovation, modernity and speed are just some of the slogans used by many young start-ups, which are temporary organizations looking for a suitable business model and are eager to invest in technology. The point at which an enterprise ceases to be considered a start-up may be when it is taken over by another company, becomes a merger or when it experiences profit-making. Today, many investors start with a similar form of business especially because of the low initial costs. The operation of such companies often require original solutions. The model of a virtual organization structure is particularly dominant, which is characterized by:

  • lack of a large physical location,
  • the main activities are based on contacts and relationships in the business environment,
  • co-operation with partner companies,
  • reduction of fixed monthly costs,
  • using the latest technology,
  • automation of business processes,
  • using systems such as CRM, Team Leasing, Sharepoint, BPM software.

Information Technology in Business

It is not without reason that most technical colleges are increasingly offering courses for students such as IT in Business. This is the answer to the ever-increasing demand of IT professionals. In addition, computer science is becoming more and more associated with industries such as economics, sociology, and marketing. It’s not just a good managerial team that forms the crux of every business. The analysts of the biggest companies in the world say that the heart of every business is its IT system. It’s not only used for duplicating and distributing documents (ie working with a text editor such as Microsoft Word), but also for:

  • collection, storage, hierarchization and protection of data,
  • communication between employees in individual departments,
  • servers,
  • execution of orders,
  • communication with the customer.

Courier companies and fast-food restaurants are good examples of using these features:

COURIER COMPANIES:

If it weren’t for the specially designed systems that coordinate both the work of the service providers and inform the recipient of the shipment, courier companies would not have been so successful in the market. First and foremost, no parcels would have been delivered from the outermost regions in such a fast time. The route of most packages from sender to recipient is as follows:

SENDING – the shipment is appropriately packed and labelled (usually with the address of the recipient) and then forwarded to the courier or taken to the appropriate place – here we have first contact with the IT system. Our shipment data (weight, size, value, address) are entered into the system by the worker.

TRANSPORT – after proper segregation (the system accounts for this), the parcel is transported by rail, car or air to the local area which is as close as possible to the recipient – often courier companies offer the ability to track the location of the parcel.

DELIVERY – the package is delivered to the recipient via a courier (a physical worker) or it can be picked up at a given location and then the recipient approves this action with a signature in the system.

In addition, there is a separate system that handles complaints. There is also an employee panel where all people in the company can check their schedule, report vacation requests, or send messages to supervisors.

VIRTUAL ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE

Every year, the American biweekly Forbes magazine releases a ranking of the most innovative companies in the world. While writing the list, journalists take into account:

  • materials that they themselves collected about companies,
  • sales records,
  • only companies that have published sales data for the past seven years.

The organization with the highest innovativeness ratio takes the first place. This ratio consists of the difference in the stock exchange value and the current net operating income. There are no banks and energy companies in the ranking.

The most innovative companies in 2016 were:

  1. TESLA – a pioneering company that produces electric cars. Its founders, Elon Musk and Martin Eberhard, want to popularize Tesla cars so that they are also within reach of the less affluent
  2. Salesforce.com – a company whose core business activity is selling cloud computing technology. It is also the leader in customer relationship management (CRM) and Business Process Management (BPM)
  3. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals – a leading company in the field of biotechnology, the medicines manufactured by this company are used in the treatment of eye diseases and colorectal cancer
  4. Incyte – a pharmaceutical company that has been operating on the market for 27 years, dealing with the production of medicines for cancer patients

Companies that were also on the list include: Netflix (streaming platform), Monster Beverage (producer of soft drinks and energy drinks), ARM Holdings (producer of microprocessors) and Amazon (online store).

FAST-FOOD  RESTAURANTS

In this case, the system is similarly divided into a section for employees and customers:

  • EMPLOYEES – they can check and modify their schedule, indicate availability, send medical leave, vacation requests, do any payroll actions and send messages.
  • CUSTOMERS – they use the system primarily at the restaurant (and some companies offer access to websites and mobile applications). In some places, it is also possible to order food from a “kiosk”, which is a touch screen panel that allows you to choose your order and payment. It is a great time saver especially for students or those who work hard and they need their meal delivered to them quickly and efficiently.

Business Processes

Every day, employees perform a number of activities that are related to each other, resulting in:

  1. solving a problem,
  2. executing a task

All these actions are called BUSINESS PROCESSES, which can be divided into three types:

  • management process – which involves planning, organization and deciding about the activities taking place in the company,
  • operational process – consists of working in departments such as IT, logistics, marketing, procurement, production,
  • auxiliary process – which supports the main processes taking place in the company (production, sales), ie the accounting department, human resources, recruitment.

The company’s business activity is based on two main types of processes:

  • MICROFLOWS– are short processes consisting of the exchange of usually a few pieces of information. They do not involve the majority of employees but rather are often performed by computer programs, for example: monthly payment of work fees for one person;
  • LONG TERM PROCESSES – these are pre-scheduled and time-consuming processes, often consisting of a series of activities that are performed by many employees; these are usually processes that cannot happen immediately, as they require more work and coordination.

What is BPM?

The implementation of BPM systems gives the business a guarantee of efficiency and innovation. According to James F. Chang, Business Process Management addresses the problem of the functioning of the business and the approach towards realizing customer needs.

BPM is referred to as a “process optimization process.” The system allows you to use tools and techniques that enable you to control the entire management cycle. It derives from IT, economics, marketing, sociology, etc. Applications using this technology already hit the American market in the early 1980s. Programs quickly gained popularity among European and Asian companies.

With BPM you can:

  • DEFINE – what process is going to take place, what it is characterized by and what it will change,
  • VERIFY – a business process simulation takes place here,
  • ANALYZE – analyzing the process in terms of different situations, drawing conclusions for the future, creating possible solutions,
  • IMPROVE – choose the best solution and put it to work,
  • CONTROL – conduct analysis of the implemented business process and other processes that take place within the organization, correlation analysis.

The way a particular type of work is organized is called WORKFLOW. This is an important concept in the perspective of BPM analysis. Thanks to WORKFLOW we can recreate the course of a particular activity, but also configure the application created for the needs of business processes. There are two ways to use workflows in IT:

  1. as a separate add-on / module in the application,
  2. as a dedicated application.

Life Cycles

Each business process is a life-cycle that consists of five categories:

  1. design – involves identifying all the processes taking place in the company and analyzing the current situation so as to develop new necessary processes,
  2. modeling – in this category of the cycle, all situations and variants of business processes are checked. They are designed so that they do not collide, so that they work quickly and effectively and do not bring any chaos into the work,
  3. execution – all the plans developed in steps 1 and 2 are implemented, often involving the purchase or creation of an application responsible for new processes or assigning new tasks to personnel,
  4. monitoring – statistics and analysis of business processes are carried out, information is collected about them,
  5. optimization – the actual performance of the process is checked and possible improvements are made, based on the information obtained during design, modeling and monitoring.

What problems does BPM solve?

As mentioned previously, the BPM (Business Process Management) system greatly improves the company’s performance, but it also addresses and resolves issues such as:

  • Communication difficulties in employee-manager, employee-employee and client-company relationships
  • lack of space for data collection,
  • lack of hierarchy in collected data,
  • an unstable system that implements business processes,
  • too many platforms for employees and customers,
  • fragmentation in the IT industry (multiple systems, languages),
  • lack of integration with other systems used in the workplace,
  • lack of supervision of tasks,
  • lack of process analysis,
  • lack of information-flow control,

The business process management system works particularly well in the financial sector because it performs the tasks at the highest level, and in accordance with the regulations in force.

BPM (is not) a magical tool

Common sense should primarily accompany all investors who want to implement BPM into their companies. Despite its excellent functionality, let’s not be fooled – the business process management system will not improve things on its own. It is not worth investing in software that often does not suit the business and does not meet the needs of the business. The most common advantages outlined in BPM system vendors’ offers are:

• reduction of costs
• time saving (faster product launches).
• process optimization,
• compliance with legal regulations.

However, we will not achieve any of the above points if we do not want to make the step to change our company ourselves. The tool is only effective when managers first analyze the problems of the company and then decide to invest money in a suitably adapted BPM system. If we add good monitoring of the current situation and proper documentation, we will hold the recipe for success.

bpm system

Concepts worth knowing about

Process Mapping – the essence of this concept involves two actions: creating diagrams (ie process maps) and their accurate documentation. Gathering business process data will not only allow you to analyze your business situation and respond to negative deviations, but also create a graphical presentation of results.

Business Process Support – usually this involves making the BPM system available to some or all employees. This will improve the performance of your business and will provide additional verification of possible errors.

BPM Implementation – Questions and Steps

Before we decide to implement the BPM system, several questions should be answered:

• In what areas will the BPM system be tested?
• When should you implement BPM?
• What are the pros and cons of implementing BPM?
• What to consider when choosing the right software?
• What will be the estimated cost of implementing the BPM system?
• Is it worth implementing BPM when a CRM system already exists?
• What is the financial situation of the company?
• What are the market trends?
• Do you implement the system yourself or with hired professionals?

Steps to take when implementing a new technology:

STEP ONE – determine your business needs. Everyone wants to save time and resources so these two needs to be treated universally. The managerial staff should perform a thorough diagnosis of the state of the organization and check in which areas work is least effective, where there are problems. Example: complications with requests for staff leave, difficulties in contacting clients.

STEP TWO – market analysis, competition and platforms already used by employees (do they work? are there any problems? are the interfaces intuitive?). Consider CRM or ERP offers, get acquainted with the BPM system and its capabilities (do they meet our needs and requirements?). Confront the costs and requirements of systems with financial resources, the time available for implementation, the use of possible help from outside companies.

STEP THREE – choosing the right system universal features that it should have:

  • ease of making changes,
  • data exchange and cooperation with systems previously used in the company,
  • collection and cataloging of information about the operation of the system and its impact on improving business processes.

When purchasing a Business Process Management System, you should already have prepared employees for this implementation. It is worthwhile to organize training sessions so that staff can familiarize themselves with the new software, get to know its basic and more advanced functions and let them express their opinion.

STEP FOUR – IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SYSTEM –

After initial training of staff, we can be sure that they will adapt to the new system with more confidence. It is not worth doing any rigorous enforcement of the first days of work with the new program. You should also expect a decrease in sales (so it is important to choose the implementation deadline carefully), which should be normalized within three weeks to a month.

STEP FIVE – monitoring, optimization – you should continue monitoring the system and make any necessary changes to it.