What is Business Process Management? And why does it matter to your business automation program?

Business Process Management (BPM) is both a technology and a capability. Most importantly, it is becoming a vital part of achieving increased value from business automation programs. This is because it enables organizations to effectively model the interactions between humans and digital workers in long-running processes.

The business automation wave started by Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and later fueled by AI and ML has enabled organizations to automate their business, task by task, in a tremendously agile and easy manner. However, the ease of getting started has often meant that the need to understand how the different automated tasks are linked together, how data is passed through them and how humans are involved as decision-making or exception-handling entities has, in many cases, been neglected. Orchestrating the various digital assets via “rules”, Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint folders became the norm in the administration of automation programs.

The vital activity of looking holistically at business operations and processes was not part of the early business automation paradigm. This meant that opportunities to eliminate bottlenecks and automate tasks in a way that creates most business value were frequently overlooked or not understood. The realization that this overview is useful often comes too late. It is only when the numbers of digital workers grow to a significant level in an organization, that it discovers that simply automating routine tasks no longer delivers enough return.

The low-hanging fruits – those high-volume, tedious and mundane tasks – can easily be put into the work queues of robots and run in scheduled batch-runs. However, to create truly transformative impact – whether in customer experience, competitive advantage or business agility – automation programs must focus on the business performance of the business processes. The focus needs to be on the workflows that enable the organization to deliver its desired business outcomes.

While humans can operate based on tacit knowledge and collective memory, digital workers cannot. They require guidance on the overall workflow of which they are a part. By using BPM to unite your human and digital workers into seamless flows, organizations are able to view the business operations and processes as a whole. BPM provides the overview and the detail to support a wide range of benefits, including: the prioritization of task automation; accuracy in reporting of efficiency and effectiveness; enabling smooth operations; and the vital capability to understand how changes in one automation or process task might affect the whole ecosystem of a workflow and the actors involved in it.

The orchestration that BPM can deliver acts as the heart of business workflows, pumping data around the enterprise and supporting the vital activity of business operations by facilitating seamless coexistence of both digital and human workers. Only through this over-arching vision of and holistic approach to their automation program, can organizations make the best of their digital workers and enable the best of the transformative value proposition that business automation has to offer.

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