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Process management - an overview

This page gives you an overview of process management. Learn what process management or BPM is and how it can be used to digitize and automate business processes. Helpful, practical tips are also provided.

Definition: What is process management or business process management (BPM)?

Business Process Management (BPM) is a method for analyzing, designing, controlling and ultimately improving business processes. Ideally, all of a company's business processes are included in the analysis. These can include, for example, processes with other companies, systems, customers, suppliers or partners. The goal is to improve business processes in such a way that they contribute optimally to achieving the company's goals. Process management or business process management are the terms for BPM and are used synonymously. Generally speaking, process management includes both analog and digital processes.

In summary, process management ensures

  • transparent costs and responsibilities,
  • efficient cross-departmental processes,
  • Information and knowledge exchange between different departments. Depending on the circumstances, the individual phases vary, but they usually include a modeling, execution and monitoring phase.

How does BPM differ from workflow management?

Workflow management is another term that is often mentioned in connection with process management. While workflow management is about coordinating and organizing processes, process management is about integrating these individual business processes into a larger whole. Workflow management is therefore a subfield, but by no means a synonym of process management. However, the aim of efficient processes is the same in both approaches.

Distinction between Digital Process Automation (DPA) and Process Management

Digital Process Automation (DPA) is the next evolution in process management and supports companies in their efforts towards end-to-end digital transformation. In contrast to DPA, process management initially has nothing to do with digital transformation. However, in order to achieve the desired improvements, digital transformation usually involves companies digitizing and ultimately automating processes. In the case of DPA, company-wide business processes with external participants come more into focus. DPA is a technology that ensures that processes and systems are not only digitized, but that tasks and sequences that would normally require manual intervention, are automated.

The BPM life cycle

Process management is an ongoing activity that involves various steps and can be mapped using a lifecycle. Depending on the circumstances, the individual phases vary, but they generally include a modeling, execution and monitoring phase.

BPM Lifecycle

The BPM life cycle

Process management is an ongoing activity that involves various steps and can be mapped using a lifecycle. Depending on the circumstances, the individual phases vary, but they generally include a modeling, execution and monitoring phase.

How JobRouter® supports the BPM lifecycle
In the video, you will get all phases of the BPM lifecycle explained using JobRouter® functions.

Examples of Business Process Management (BPM) phases

  • Analysis

    In the analysis phase, processes are first identified and then analyzed (people, activities, individual steps, points in time, etc.).

  • Modeling

    The modeling phase essentially involves selecting and adapting processes that are to be implemented.

  • Execution

    Once processes are defined, the execution phase begins, including efforts to automate business processes.

  • Monitoring

    The monitoring phase is the prerequisite for subsequent optimization and is used for targeted process control.

  • Optimization

    The optimization phase begins following monitoring. The knowledge gained during monitoring makes it possible to improve the processes. It is possible, for example, that there are subtasks that have not been automated, that unnecessary steps are still being carried out, or that the data structure in general may require readjustment.

Digital process management: Application examples

Throughout a company or in individual departments, there are various workflows that contain individual steps, as well as instructions for actions and responsibilities. These processes can be both internal and external. Examples of internal processes are the hiring of new employees or the ordering of office supplies. Invoicing processes (processing accounts payable invoices or creating invoices), on the other hand, are external processes because outsiders (customers, partners or suppliers) are involved.

Use cases that affect the entire company are, for example:

  • Accounting and finance
  • Purchasing decisions
  • Administrative activities
  • Customer services
  • Facility management
  • Personnel management
  • Order processing
  • Performance measurement
  • Warehousing, logistics
  • Standard operating procedures
  • Employee performance and training
  • Supplier and customer portal

In addition, there are processes whose origin can be assigned to a specific department. All these workflows can be mapped digitally. Even if the actual process management is detached from digital solutions, it can be implemented much more easily. Digital and automated business processes improve performance in all departments - this reduces overhead and enables flexibility in the company.

Human Resources

With the advancement of organization-wide digital strategies, the HR department is also changing - and gaining in importance. In addition to administrative tasks such as approving vacation requests or checking applications, the HR department also has a strategic role to play in the "war for talent". In the future, fewer administrative tasks will be on the agenda than creative, intelligent activities in the corporate environment. This, in turn, requires companies to digitize and automate HR processes that used to be time-consuming and to connect them with the relevant data and departments. More flexible work structures, further developing corporate culture and supporting employees in digital transformation and change management are today's new priorities. To free up time for strategic and value-creating activities, HR employees must be relieved of their administrative tasks. This is done through digital business processes. Here are some workflows that can be digitized and automated in HR:

  • Vacation request
  • Digital personnel file
  • Travel expense report
  • Application management
  • Employee onboarding
  • Expense report
  • Business trip application

And here are the reasons why digital automaton is particularly worthwhile in the HR sector:

  • Promotion of new and agile ways of working and mobile working
  • Increased employee satisfaction through fast processing
  • Transparency in employee responsibilities
  • Simplified change management
  • Information exchange without interruption or integration problems

Administration

Who hasn't had to handle a contract or obtain a permit? These tasks are often time-consuming when performed in analog (manual) form. Digitizing administrative processes is therefore an essential part of any digitization strategy. In addition, workflows can only be accelerated effectively when all systems, applications and company departments are connected locally and across decentralized locations. To achieve this, companies have to rethink their analog processes, sometimes redesigning and streamlining them. As a result, the heterogeneous IT landscape becomes interconnected, the company remains agile, and decision-makers can focus on management tasks. This frees up employees to use their time more effectively - and allows the company to maintain control over all physical and electronic records at all times. Additionally, the newly created visibility helps identify operational bottlenecks and continuously improve processes. Here are a few workflows that can be digitized and automated in administration:

  • Contract management
  • Training management
  • Approval processes
  • Digital construction file / digital project file
  • Maintenance order / Production order
  • Fleet management

And these are the reasons why digital automation in administration is worthwhile:

  • Enormous time savings across all departments
  • Faster and more up-to-date accounting
  • Faster, more secure access to all documents and data
  • Efficient workflows thanks to end-to-end processes
  • Optimized service thanks to prompt, proactive contact
  • Real-time daily accounting and payroll reports
  • Reduced overall process costs
  • Well-founded decisions thanks to increased transparency
  • Strict security standards for documents and data exchange

Finance

The finance department is undergoing a transformation. Administrative tasks still fill the business day, but according to McKinsey Research, as much as 75-79 percent of general accounting operations, cash dispurement, and revenue management tasks in finance can be fully automated in the future. Experts are convinced that with digitization, employees in finance departments are developing into business partners, answering trend-setting questions, interpreting data and contributing increasing value to their organization. The problem arises when the number of cross-departmental, control-relevant data continues to increase - but beneficial processes for management are not implemented. As real-time and ad-hoc analysis grows in importance along the entire value chain, it will become a priority to set up an interconnected value-creation system. Here are some workflows that can be digitized and automated in finance:

  • Treasury Management
  • Risk Assessment
  • Purchase-to-Pay
    • Invoice Receipt Verification
    • Outgoing invoice processing
    • Payment processing
  • Expenditure planning
  • bank report
  • data controlling
  • Accounts Payable / Accounts Receivable

And these are the reasons why digital automation in finance is worthwhile:

  • More performance through integrated data exchange
  • Creation of electronic invoices with information linking
  • Establishment of a paperless filing system as a central reference for all documents
  • Ability to exchange, match and archive documents without material costs
  • Optimized cost control

Purchasing

It is no secret that digital procurement processes can now be fully automated. Companies also rely on operational and in-house digital processes such as requirements gathering and pricing, with data from various sources being integrated. However, it is the comprehensive exchange of information that brings the full advantage of digital procurement to light. Sustainable processes require more than strategic data management. The degree of interconnection between employees, departments and systems determines how digital and efficient purchasing can be. In day-to-day business, this can be seen by optimizing the supply chain and maximizing response time. With digital processes, the modern buyer maintains full control and transparency over processes, tasks and figures at all times, and can make decisions in real time, despite the large number of purchasing processes involved.

Here are some workflows that can be digitized and automated in purchasing:

  • Investment request
  • Goods receipt process
  • Order processing
  • Inventory process
  • Delivery release

And these are the reasons why digital automation in purchasing is worthwhile:

  • Contract, supplier and procurement management with seamless system and data integration
  • Optimized supply chains
  • Maximized reaction speed
  • Automated routine processes (article dispositions, creation of order proposals or price inquiries)
  • Transparent bookings and stock levels
  • New savings potential
  • Reduced processing time

Sales

Today, more than 50 percent of new employees already belong to the "digital native" generation. They have has grown up with digital tools and different ways of working and are transferring this experience to their everyday working lives. They don't think much of mountains of documents and Excel lists with manually prepared data or paperwork. Customers have also opened up new information channels. By the time the first contact with sales is made, the decision has often already been made, so advance work must be done - on all channels. After all, the customer should have the choice of how to get in touch and the employee should be able to switch seamlessly between channels to qualify a lead efficiently. Information overload and attention deficits among prospects demand that companies streamline all sales processes and optimize them digitally. Information must be quick and easy to find, and data must be efficient to use. Here are some workflows that can be digitized and automated in sales:

  • Order processing
  • Information download
  • Quotation approval
  • Compilation of product sheets
  • B2B sales process

And these are the reasons why digital automation in sales is worthwhile:

  • Simplification of processes, communication and advice
  • Increased reach and sales
  • Optimized sales productivity
  • Build trust and prevent mistrust
  • Reduced costs for administration and organization
  • Increased effectiveness and reduced susceptibility to errors
  • Simplified contact, data maintenance & collaboration
  • Sustainable competitive advantage

HR, finance and accounting are high on the digital agenda

Recent surveys show that companies reported they are gaining momentum digitally, especially in HR, finance and accounting, but are still far from exploiting all the possibilities. Companies that want to introduce process management should pursue a holistic strategy while taking small steps forward in practice. Time will tell if other areas should wait until later in the journey and therefore lag behind digitally.

In particular, HR, finance, and accounts payable topics are digitized

In which of the following areas does your company already use or plan to use digital solutions for planning and controlling company resources?

Survey results of digital automation progress by department

How can process management be implemented?

How process management works can be explained in theory with the BPM lifecycle. But theory and practice are often only comparable to a limited extent. In practice, you should be aware that process management is not a rigid process of working through to-do lists, but has a lot to do with communication and teamwork. Pilot projects for digital automation in companies often start in isolation from one another. This silo approach can result in projects that become stalled, terminate unsuccessfully, or create islands of information that impede information flow to other teams across the organization. Surveys by Accenture and McKinsey indicate that when companies approach digital process management holistically from the outset with the necessary communication, failure can be prevented. It is also important to have the backing of all stakeholders, including management, in order to introduce and successfully drive digital process management forward to its full potential.  

Learn about three essential steps to implement process management here.

1. Organization-wide business process structure

Once you have gained support in the company for this topic, the first step is to get an overview of the external and internal processes in your company. Talk to colleagues from other departments and outline all workflows. Ideally, you should already record all the processes that take place in the company. Alternatively, you can take a department-specific approach and, for example, first analyze business processes in human resources or administration. It is useful to know that there are different types of processes that fulfill different tasks and purposes and ultimately help you to structure business processes. As a rule, value creation, support and management processes are distinguished from one another.

Value creation processes

Value-adding processes are essential for the creation of a product or the provision of a service. They describe all corporate activities that are geared to customer needs. The value-adding processes a company has depend to a large extent on its industry focus or its core competencies. Typically, sales and marketing processes are almost always part of the value creation processes. It is also characteristic that different departments of a company are integrated into the value creation processes.

Support processes

Support processes, also known as supporting processes, are not customer-oriented at first, but are necessary in order to carry out, control and optimize value creation and management processes. These include, for example, personnel selection and qualification as well as purchasing or the payment of invoices. In contrast to value-added processes, support processes can often be assigned to a single department.

Management processes

Management processes relate to the company as a whole, contribute to the planning and control of core and support processes, and serve to strategically manage a company. Similar to support processes, this type of process is not directly related to the value creation of a company. Examples of management processes would include, but are not limited to: Aligning the company strategically, defining the corporate mission statement or formulating corporate goals.

2. Create process map

The second step emerges from the discussions with internal and external stakeholders. The process map graphically depicts all processes in the company.  Division into core, support and management processes is supplemented by the interactions/dependencies of business processes with each other. Figuratively speaking, the process map is your compass to keep focus on the path to process management. In addition, the process map can be consulted to explain the process management projects to employees. This clear representation helps to ensure understanding of the (change) project. In addition, a graphical representation makes it particularly easy to identify optimization potential. You can create a process map by enriching your core, support and management processes with additional information (e.g., responsible department/employee) and further subdividing them into sub-processes (if appropriate) and adding required third-party systems, documents and key figures.

3. Implement and optimize processes

Once an overview has been created, you can work through the business processes from your map step-by-step, digitizing and even automating them. With subsequent process optimization, the BPM lifecycle  then begins again.

Before you start with the implementation, however, you should have completed important tasks:

  • Involve employees early on and offer training.
  • Record process steps, responsibilities and other important information in documentation.
  • Identify and contact all stakeholders in a timely manner. Also consider those who have no direct contact with the process but must approve it - for example, the works council or data protection officers.

It is also advisable to set regular coordination and review dates even before the introduction. In this way, you can ensure from the outset that processes are constantly scrutinized and, if necessary, adapted or even eliminated.

We have also compiled five additional tips to help you successfully implement your project management.

Five tips for successful process management

1. Understand the current process

Let's take an ordering process as an example. Do you know who orders what in your company and what approvals need to be obtained? No? Then you are in the same situation as many others. That is why you should get rid of the idea that you, or even company management, can have detailed knowledge of all processes. From a practical point of view, the best people to talk to are still those who work with the process on a regular basis. Don't get too hung up on theory. Talking to colleagues will tell you about individual process steps and everything else you need to know to get started.

2. Start small

"It's hard to get started" - a saying that couldn't be more apt for process management. So don't make things unnecessarily difficult for yourself and start small. Choose simple processes that address the current situation and avoid being overwhelmed. Especially if process management is new. You should aim for small stages that can be implemented quickly and easily. Success will inspire you to do more - so you can gradually tackle other, as yet untried processes in your company.

3. Create a schedule

You will probably realize pretty quickly that many things will take much longer than initially anticipated. Nevertheless, it makes sense to create a schedule that includes generous milestones and that you can regularly review and adjust. Process management is not something you can just do on the side. It is important to give all involved employees sufficient time to deal with the topic in detail and successfully implement their tasks.

4. Enable the exchange of information, ideas

As with any new big project, sooner or later challenges crop up. Restructuring, new service providers and much more can mean that you have to throw your well-thought-out plan out the window and start over again. Regular meetings are a good way to learn about changes early on and to support each other. Bring yourself up to date, discuss problems and inspire each other. The intervals at which you schedule meetings depend on how much you need to discuss. It is advisable to choose shorter intervals, especially during critical phases, such as at the beginning. Once everything has settled in, weekly or monthly meetings are also advisable.

5. Use tools

With your process map, you already have a powerful tool at hand. It is the basis for analysis, meetings and further developments and should always be included in the regular coordination meetings. But the choice of a suitable means of communication is also crucial. E-mails often lead to misunderstandings and ultimately cause more confusion than they help the process. Therefore, only write e-mails if your request can be explained succinctly and be sure to file any important documents in an agreed-upon location. This is where project management tools have proven to be the tool of choice, as they bundle all communication including documents, schedules, and to-do lists, etc. There are a number of software products available, some of which can even be used free of charge - for example, Asana or Trello.

What does a Chief Process Officer (CPO) do?

A Chief Process Officer (CPO) is responsible for the process management of a company. They define the strategy, monitor and develop processes. As a rule, the CPO is a member of the executive board. Unlike the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Digital Officer (CDO), he or she always focuses on process management, which means that measures taken in this area can be implemented more straightforwardly and successfully. If there is no CPO, process management is often subordinated, especially when it comes to strategic decisions.

Selection criteria for good BPM software

With the help of BPM software, companies can design, implement, optimize and, above all, automate business processes. All tasks are performed in one platform.  Accordingly, a BPM tool helps to approach process management holistically and to view and improve processes from start to finish. As a result, processes can not only be made more efficient, but resources can be adjusted according to need, errors can be reduced, time can be saved, and ultimately the entire value creation of a company can be increased.

In order to take full advantage of this, it is important to choose a suitable software. We have collected some criteria that experience has shown to play an important role in the search for and selection of good BPM software.

Monitoring

Make sure that you can use the BPM software to monitor key business indicators in real time, if possible. Ideally, you should be able to visualize the data in a dashboard.

Scalability

Every company has its own special features and unique requirements. Therefore, make sure that the selected process management software can handle them. This includes integration to third-party systems as well as preferred data types or archiving and search functions for documents. A scalable solution is also necessary for companies with growth and expansion plan. This enables them to handle not just current requirements, but also future changes as well.

Security

Recent surveys across many industries shows that data privacy and security have become top priorities driving digital transformation initiatives. Security is therefore one of the most important criteria when it comes to selecting a suitable BPM tool. Particularly in the case of cloud solutions where the question of data residency, where data is stored, is at the forefront. In many countries and states, government regulations can be particularly strict. It is therefore advisable to choose a software provider that offers cloud options that meet data residency requirements. In addition, process management software should meet the requirements of data protection regulations such as GDPR.

Analysis and simulation

You should make sure that the software provides an analysis and simulation function. With a heat map, for example, it is possible to analyze weak points within a process. The simulation function allows you to test the process from the end user's point of view. This allows you to check the functionality of subsequent steps, system activities, control conditions or scripts and to detect errors in advance.

Usability

For process designers, a flexible and user-friendly interface is essential. This enables them to model and adapt even complicated process forms quickly and easily. Of course, end users also benefit from user-friendly BPM software that makes it particularly easy to start and control processes.

What is JobRouter®?

The JobRouter® digitization platform is a flexible and customizable solution that offers you limitless application possibilities. Our approach is simple: we digitize and automate all your business processes by connecting data, documents and processes in a system that fits perfectly into your existing IT landscape. 

To do this, we rely on strong API technology and the modularly expandable functions of our platform. You benefit from a solution that allows you to digitally map and automate your entire business - and save right from the start. 

Why you should use JobRouter® as process management software

Time saving

Process automation saves time. Automate routine tasks into paperless and error-free processes.

Customizable & cost-effective

The scalable approach lets you digitize individually and cost-effectively.

Low-Code

Low-code allows even non-IT people to easily design, create and modify process workflows.

Flexible

Thanks to third-party systems that can be integrated, you remain flexible and can connect workflows across systems.

Infinite deployment scenarios

Adapt the digitization platform to your needs. The deployment scenarios of JobRouter® are infinite.

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