Business Process Management (BPM) is a discipline that involves a number of specialties including subject matter experts, process analysts and the developers who automate processes using Business Process Management System technologies.

I am involved in BPM projects from the perspective of the automation of manual paper-based processes. There is much pressure in the planning of these projects to ignore the “AS-IS” process and go straight to the automating of the “TO-BE” process in order to start realising the business benefits as soon as possible.

As attractive as this might sound skipping the foundation steps in the Business Process Management Lifecycle means that you will be potentially automating a flawed process. Vital information will be missing required to automate the process and after the implementation to report on the performance and identify opportunities for further improvement.

Over the last few weeks I have been participating in QUT’s first “Fundamentals of BPM” MOOC https://moocs.qut.edu.au/learn/fundamentals-of-bpm-october-2015 which introduces the fundamentals of business process management (BPM) by working through each phase of the BPM lifecycle.

For those not familiar with the acronym MOOC it is a Massive Open Online Course and it’s FREE! There are thousands of courses to choose from delivered from educational institutions around the world, check out http://mooc-list.com to see what’s available.

The QUT Fundamentals of BPM course started in October and runs for 7 weeks and requires between 2-4 hours of study per week and involves video tutorials, activities, quizzes and an optional project. The next course starts in February 2016 and I would highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in business process improvement no matter what your BPM discipline speciality or level of experience might be.

The module in the first week introduces the six phases of the lifecycle:

  1. Process Identification
  2. Process Discovery
  3. Process Analysis
  4. Process Redesign
  5. Process Implementation
  6. Process Monitoring

As you can see the lifecycle is a continuous journey and not just a point in time project that concludes with the automation of the process. Each phase of the cycle has a number of tasks and outputs that are key to the successful improvement of the selected business process.

Process Identification

  • TASKS: Identifying the organisation’s “AS-IS” business processes and prioritising their management.
  • OUTPUTS: Process Architecture, Prioritised Process Portfolio.

Process Discovery

  • TASKS: Documenting knowledge from the staff of the organisation in the form of an “AS-IS” conceptual process model that can be used in all phases of the BPM lifecycle.
  • OUTPUTS: AS-IS conceptual process model.

Process Analysis

  • TASKS: Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the “AS-IS” process as a basis for the redesign of the “TO-BE” process.
  • OUTPUTS: Issue register, list of steps that add value, sources of waste, causes of issues, performance metrics, and simulation models.

Process Redesign

  • TASKS: Addressing issues and causes of waste in the “AS-IS” process in order to improve the process by replanning and organising tasks.
  • OUTPUTS: “TO-BE” conceptual process model.

Process Implementation

  • TASKS: Implementation of “TO-BE” conceptual process model that may involve automation of the business process.
  • OUTPUTS: “TO-BE” executable process model, adoption of a new technology solutions such as a BPMS.

Process Monitoring

  • TASKS: Monitoring and management of the implemented “TO-BE” business processes to demonstrate that process KPIs have been met and to identify issues for resolution.
  • OUTPUTS: Process dashboards, alerts, reports, process analytics using BPMS database logs and process models.

By looking at the tasks and outputs of the BPM Lifecycle you can see that the Process Redesign phase, where the “TO-BE” conceptual process model is developed, cannot begin without first completing the preceding phases as the necessary artefacts would be missing.

Further along the lifecycle after the Process Implementation phase has been completed and the automated process goes live is the Process Monitoring phase. If the necessary information had not been previously identified this phase could not begin as the required process dashboards, reports and analytics would not be available as they could not have been developed during implementation.

It may be tempting to skip straight to the automation fun but the enjoyment will be short-lived as soon as the process goes live.

If this has sparked your interest to learn more about Business Process Management keep an eye out for the next QUT Fundamentals of BPM MOOC at https://www.qut.edu.au/study/short-courses-and-professional-development/short-courses/fundamentals-of-bpm