Understanding Business Process Management: A Beginner's Guide

Brad Fagan
We have come a long way since the days when traditional hierarchical management structures dominated the workplace. In order to understand a procedure, an employee was forced to read through a great big manual (like a workplace Bible) to find the answer to a problem.

This method of finding the right procedure for the right job role was a little like striking a match to light up a large dark cave – it’s not very effective and still leaves you stranded in the dark at the end.

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Something had to change

The introduction of Business Process Management (BPM) showed that there was a better way to do business. The reason why Business Process Management is so effective, is that it measures every action, performed by every employee, in every role (while recording the outcomes). Now that’s a little bit like installing floodlights in the same cave I talked about earlier and having the ability to see every corner, every crack and every crevice – the difference is night and day.

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In business today, we have the ability to connect like never before – that goes equally for employees and employers. There’s a level of understanding that BPM software affords us in today’s business world that was simply not possible 20 years ago.

BPM by Triaster

You may have heard of process mapping and process libraries. These are the two core elements that make up the heart of BPM - pumping blood and sustaining the life of your business processes.

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Process mapping enables a company to map out and follow the processes carried out by every employee, in every role of your company. At Triaster, we use something called the Noun-Verb Methodology to map out all processes in our customer’s business. By doing this, we make it easier for employees to map out what they are required to do in their role and the cost of doing it (in time and in money).

This way, effectiveness isn’t measured by a single executive who sits in an ivory tower making inspirational speeches about ‘thinking different’ or about how their employees are ‘changing the world’ with a particular colour of ballpoint pen they’re creating – the colour red is the world changer in case you were wondering.

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Now, let’s talk about process libraries. The process library is where all your process maps are stored (as well as all your other important documents). It allows you to find the exact process you need, explained in an easy to understand process map that documents the activity and the outcome.

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Benefits of a Process Approach to Business

In order to understand a process, one must become the process – or at least have a creative analogy using a space shuttle to compare a process with a procedure (what a coincidence, that’s exactly what we have.)

The difference between a process and a procedure is actually pretty easy to define and that's good because it's also pretty important to know; knowing the difference could completely revolutionise the way you do business:

A process asks the question ‘what to do?’ A procedure asks the question ‘how to do it?’

For instance, say you’re working with NASA on the day of a space shuttle launch. Your goal is to launch a rocket into space – congratulations, you have a cool job! Now I’ve never launched a rocket into space, so forgive me if my analogy includes terribly bad steps to launching a space shuttle, but let’s assume you’re responsible for getting the shuttle to the launch site, let’s outline a bunch of processes you might go through to get it there:

  1. Find the keys to the ‘space shuttle moving vehicle’.
  2. Locate the vehicle
  3. Locate the space shuttle
  4. Drive over and get the space shuttle
  5. Connect the shuttle to the vehicle
  6. Drive it to the launching site
  7. Disconnect the spaceship

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Now let’s take this same event from a procedural approach.

  1. How to find the keys: Walk over to the ‘Key Box’, which is located in the ‘Key House’. Open the box and find the key labelled ‘space shuttle mover key’.
  2. How to locate the vehicle: Make your way over to the space shuttle car park. There will be a sign labelled ‘space shuttle car park’. Make your way to section D12 and look for the license plate labelled ‘Spaceman1’. Unlock car door with key taken from the ‘key box’ in the ‘Key House’.

You get the idea...

Now you might say, ‘those procedures are important! I mean, if you’ve never been to lot D12 before, how are you going to know where it is?’ This is the beauty of a process library. It not only contains process maps which tell you ‘what to do’ for each process, in each job role; but it can also house the relevant forms and procedures for your employees when they need to find out the ‘how’ and not just the ‘what’.

Triaster BPM Platform: Making Your Work Life Easier

Not only can your employees find their specific task in a Process Library, but they can also track quality and output which isn’t possible in an old text based approach.

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An old text based process also isn’t searchable; meaning your employees are going to be spending a lot of time trying to find the process and even if they are able to find it before our sun turns into a red dwarf star, what happens to process improvement?

Triaster BPM Platform: Driving Process Improvement

How do you improve a process when you have no way of measuring its effectiveness? When you have a manual telling your employees how to do something, but not what the expected outcome should be, how can you expect quality to be maintained?

In a text based document, there’s no way of recording or attaching measurements or observations to the activity. When you can’t measure the time, cost or outcome of the activity, you won’t be able to improve its effectiveness.

Triaster BPM Platform: Even More Benefits

  • Data is easy to pull out
  • Easy to demonstrate reliance to processes
  • Ability to record ISO clauses behind processes in your process maps. This will reduce time and money spent on auditing.
  • Time it takes to find a process is much quicker
  • Employee output becomes measurable
  • Easy identification of problems through tracking the process consistently

Whether you’re seriously considering purchasing a BPM system, or just curious as to the options out there regarding taking your business to the next level, we can help.

This article is just a gateway into understanding Business Process Management, however, we also offer a ton of other articles that take you through the BPM journey from start to expert. If you would like to know more about BPM and what it can do for you, sign up to our Why Triaster? webinar below:

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Related Articles:

How much does Business Process Management (BPM) software cost?

5 Reasons your Business needs Business Process Management

5 More Reasons your Business needs Business Process Management

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?

How Business Process Management (BPM) can Break Down the Silos in your Organisation

Written by Brad Fagan

Brad joined Triaster in 2016 as our Content Marketing Executive hailing all the way from Middle Earth (the film version, not the book) – New Zealand. Brad’s video skills soon resulted in new weekly Triaster videos and his individual touch in some of the Connector and blog articles. In June 2018 Brad moved to Germany with his wife Lynn.