Business process management (BPM) refers to a systematic approach to improving an organization's business processes. BPM activities seek to make business processes more effective, more efficient and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment.
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BPM is a subset of infrastructure management, the administrative area of concern dealing with maintenance and optimization of an organization's equipment and core operations. Enterprise CIOs can use business process management best practices, often in conjunction with SOA, to get a better handle on their business' operations, personnel, IT resources and more.
This BPM guide is part of SearchCIO.com's CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic guidance and advice that addresses the management and decision-making aspects of timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the CIO Briefings section.
Why and how should you approach a BPM program?
Enterprise IT budgets in 2009 are nearly flat, and CIOs must drive business process improvement while creatively using existing resources to advance their organizations' agendas. So says the latest research from Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based consultancy, as well as interviews with CIOs, who put business process improvement atop their agenda for 2009.
Organizations are not slashing their IT budgets wholesale -- "in fact, they are using IT to change the way the company works, to make it more effective and efficient," said Mark McDonald, a group vice president at Gartner and author of the study. "CIOs are essentially going to have the same resources as last year to address a whole new range of problems."
Learn more in "Business process improvement tops IT '09 agenda, say Gartner, IT execs." Also:
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- Balanced Scorecard founder: In recession, think risk management (SearchCIO.com)
Risk management is among the key performance indicators to measure for strategic success, says Robert Kaplan, co-developer of the Balanced Scorecard methodology.
- Business process management politics: Sit IT, business down (SearchCIO.com)
It's ultimate fighting, with IT vs. business over business process management. But as growing usage shows, there's victory for all once projects streamline workflows and cut costs.
How can you measure the ROI of a BPM project?
Enterprise organizations should assess smaller projects and can realize fast ROI in three or fewer months when implementing business process management software, experts and users say. And that could be a boon to CIOs seeking ways to increase efficiencies across the business during this recession.
"People start off doing BPM to solve some big problem -- don't start there," said Derek Miers, founder of BPM Focus, an organization that explores the impact of BPM software on business strategy.
"Find something that is going to self contain, some small-scope project," Miers said. "You can succeed at a small project [with which] you can deliver value and do quickly, like in six to 10 weeks. The business will go, 'Wow, can we have some more of that?'"
Get more information in "BPM software: How to find fast ROI on smaller projects." Also:
- File transfer software improves business process (SearchCIO.com)
Companies seeking to save money are looking hard at streamlining business processes. At Christie's auction house, a managed file transfer solution does just that, with strong ROI.
How can BPM and SOA work together for a successful BPM program?
Choosing between BPM and SOA is akin to the chicken and the egg debate. Without defined business processes, enterprises can't create reusable services for the business, and without a services layer, business processes can't easily be made reusable.
So which should come first?
The short answer is both -- meaning organizations should define business processes and create a service-oriented architecture (SOA) in tandem. "Those doing larger deployments of [BPM tools] are learning that they have to really create a services layer at the same time they create processes," said Janelle Hill, BPM analyst at Gartner.
Find out more in "How BPM and SOA work together for business process improvement." Also:
- SOA success stories involve business process management (SearchCIO.com)
SOA and Web services work great for application integration, but the real payoff comes when you integrate business process management best practices. Still, there are challenges.
- A move to cloud computing should involve SOA and BPM (SearchCIO.com)
Enterprises preparing for cloud computing should involve SOA and BPM in the process to achieve transformational change.
What sort of BPM tools are available?
Just when the notion of delivering BPM Software as a Service (SaaS) seems to be generating some buzz, veteran BPM player Pegasystems Inc. is proposing a twist on the SaaS model it believes corporate customers will find more palatable.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based provider is launching a BPM Platform as a Service that essentially turns corporate IT departments into their own BPM SaaS providers. The on-premise hosted model offers two boons in one, boasts Pegasystems, providing the efficiency of a SaaS offering without the anxieties of sending proprietary business information off into the "cloud."
"The customers we work for have not asked for a hosted BPM solution because business process management is so close and critical to their proprietary information," said Russell Keziere, senior director, BPM marketing, at Pegasystems.
Learn more in "BPM Platform as a Service turns IT shops into SaaS providers." Also:
- IT support costs trimmed via workforce realignment, remote access tool (SearchCIO.com)
The Salvation Army is turning to workforce realignment and clientless remote access tools to stave off layoffs, cut costs and increase efficiencies during this recession.
- Six Sigma, ITIL, other business processes cut IT costs in lean times (SearchCIO.com)
Business processes such as Lean Six Sigma and ITIL are better ways to reduce your IT costs than just blindly making cuts, say Forrester experts.
- HP business service automation software improves strategy (SearchCIO.com)
HP improves and integrates its business service automation software portfolio, promising a more strategic way to see into and manage the IT brain.
- Resource center: Business process management (SearchCIO.com)
- Resource center: Return on investment (SearchCIO.com)
- BPM guide: Business process management strategies for enterprise CIOs (SearchCIO.com)