Effective business process management (BPM) solutions are becoming an essential component of the technology infrastructure, particularly in companies with complex business processes.

That's according to Gareth Holton, business analyst at nVisionIT, who says the benefits of effective BPM become clear particularly when the company must change or adjust its processes.
He explains that BPM delivers a consistent way of doing things; it is a question of efficiency and effectiveness. "Since all businesses are process-driven (a simple activity such as issuing a cheque to pay for goods is a business process), formal BPM can deliver cost savings in the appropriate environment; typically larger and more complex companies.
"With the business environment in a constant state of flux, most businesses will be faced with the necessity to change their processes in response to differing market conditions. This could be the introduction of new regulations, the addition of a new supplier or customer, or the introduction of a new technology," he says.
As an example, Holton points to the rollout of RFID tags by retail giant Wal-Mart in the United States. As a result of this exercise, suppliers to the organisation are compelled to change their processes to adopt the new technology. "The point is that any change may require process adjustment," he says.
And that's not all. Holton also points out that with an explicit understanding of processes (which is not a given) business managers are presented with the opportunity to eliminate inefficiency.
"Many companies today are operating effectively without managers necessarily understanding the various processes clearly. There's nothing wrong with that – but those that do deploy BPM stand to gain a competitive advantage in terms of improved efficiency or reduced costs," he says.
Only through examining processes closely can their full impact on organisational performance be assessed. "Companies which do have full documentation of processes tend to be run based on knowledge rather than gut feel," says Holton.
When establishing BPM within an organisation, he says it is important that the selected strategy is dictated by business needs and not technology availability or choices." The business and its processes needs to be broken into divisions and the processes analysed one by one in explicit detail while being contextualized as a part of a larger whole. Once this analysis is complete it is possible to examine processes, identify any inefficiencies and adjust as necessary," he says.
With the rise of the concept of service oriented infrastructure, Holton believes BPM has taken a technological step forward in terms of the potential for improved information access and exchange.
"SOA as its broadest principle exposes information for easy access. This ties in well with process management as it is possible to more easily view and access process entry and exit points within the organisational infrastructure. This isn't just theoretical, either – it actually works, enabled by technologies like Microsoft's BizTalk," he notes.
Coupled with the appropriate expertise, BPM offers the opportunity for improved efficiency of business processes. "The visibility it brings to business processes provides the ability to rapidly identify and resolve bottlenecks and problems. The introduction of technology-driven processes can also eliminate tedious or repetitive manual processes.
And, with a BPM solution in place, it is also possible to extend consistent and efficient processes across the business. This should deliver cost savings and a resultant ROI in the right environment, but actual numbers would depend on each specific client," he concludes.