BPM Lifecycle

Business Process Management (BPM) is a systematic approach to making an organisation’s workflow more effective, more efficient, and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment.
BPM Lifecycle Mutomorro

Business Process Management (BPM) is a systematic approach to making an organisation’s workflow more effective, more efficient, and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment. It involves the assessment of company workflows, finding areas where the business can improve efficiency, and figuring out ways to make these changes. Let’s break down what the BPM Lifecycle is and why it’s crucial for your business’s success.

What is a BPM Lifecycle?

When you hear the term BPM Lifecycle, it refers to the series of steps that professionals follow to take a business process from its current state to a more optimised version. It’s a loop of continuous improvement that allows organisations to manage and improve their processes systematically.

The lifecycle begins with the identification of existing processes and the visualisation of new processes. It progresses through design, modelling, execution, monitoring, and analysis before looping back to the start. By adhering to this cycle, you can ensure that your business processes stay efficient and are capable of responding to new challenges and opportunities.

The BPM Lifecycle is not just a set of steps; it’s a philosophy that encourages continuous evaluation and improvement. It’s about having a structured approach to managing the processes that make up your business operations. Implementing this lifecycle can lead to significant improvements in business performance and agility.

Background to the BPM Lifecycle

The historical roots of BPM can be traced back to the early 20th century with the principles of scientific management and process standardisation. However, the formal concept of BPM and its lifecycle model started gaining prominence in the early 1990s.

During this period, as information technology began to reshape the business landscape, companies started to see the value of aligning IT with business processes. The BPM Lifecycle model emerged as a way to help businesses adapt to changing markets and technologies by providing a structured approach to process management.

The model has evolved over the years, influenced by various management theories, including Total Quality Management (TQM), Lean Manufacturing, and Six Sigma. Today, the BPM Lifecycle integrates these principles with modern technology to create a holistic approach to process improvement.

Stages of the BPM Lifecycle

BPM Lifecycle - Business Process Mapping

There are 5 stages to the BPM Lifecycle. The BPM Lifecycle can be applied to various aspects of business operations, including product development, compliance regulation, and technology integration. For product development, the lifecycle ensures that the entire process, from concept to market launch, is as efficient as possible, managing timelines, resources, and cross-departmental collaboration. In terms of compliance regulation, the BPM Lifecycle helps businesses ensure that their processes align with legal requirements through regular monitoring and analysis. When integrating new technology, the lifecycle guides the process to support business objectives and enhance existing processes.

1. Design

BPM Lifecycle - 1. Design Stage

In the design stage, you identify, define, and detail the processes that need improvement. This step is crucial because it sets the foundation for the rest of the BPM Lifecycle. You need to document everything accurately, outlining the objectives, inputs, outputs, and the flow of the process.

It’s not enough to simply jot down what you think the process is; you must engage with those who are directly involved in its execution. This collaborative approach ensures that the process design is grounded in reality and reflects the actual workings of your business.

After documenting the current state, you then move on to designing the ‘to-be’ process – the ideal state you want your process to reach. This involves identifying process inefficiencies, removing bottlenecks, and setting clear, measurable goals for the redesigned process.

2. Modelling

BPM Lifecycle - 2. Modelling

Once you have a solid design, you move into the modelling phase. This is where you create a visual representation of the new process, often using flowcharts or BPM software. It’s a way to test and simulate how the process will function under various scenarios without impacting the actual operations.

In this stage, you can play around with different variables to see how changes will affect the process. For instance, what happens if you add more resources or alter a step in the sequence? Modelling gives you a sandbox to explore these questions and refine your process design before you implement it.

It’s important to remember that this stage is about experimentation and analysis. You’ll likely go through several iterations of your model, tweaking and adjusting, until you find the most efficient and effective design.

3. Execute

BPM Lifecycle - 3. Execute

Execution is the stage where you bring your new process design to life. It’s the point at which you implement the changes you’ve designed and modelled. This can involve updating technology, altering workflows, training staff, and more.

During execution, communication is paramount. Everyone involved in the process must understand their role and how the changes will affect their day-to-day work. Without clear communication, even the best-designed process can fail when it comes to implementation.

It’s also vital to ensure that you have the right tools to support the new process. This might mean investing in new technology or simply making sure that existing systems are properly integrated. The goal is to enable the smooth operation of the new process from day one.

4. Monitor

BPM Lifecycle - 4. Analysis

Post-execution, you enter the monitoring phase. Here, you track the performance of the new process to ensure it’s working as intended. You collect data on various aspects of the process: speed, quality, compliance, and more.

Monitoring is not just about watching; it’s about actively seeking out issues so they can be addressed promptly. It’s a proactive step in the BPM Lifecycle that helps you catch problems before they become disasters.

Effective monitoring relies on having clear metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the goals of the process. These metrics should be reviewed regularly to ensure that the process remains aligned with business objectives.

5. Analysis

BPM Lifecycle - 5. Analysis

With monitoring data in hand, you move into analysis. This is where you evaluate the performance of the process, looking at how it measures up against the objectives you set during the design stage.

Analysis is about more than just crunching numbers; it’s about understanding the story behind the data. Why did the process perform the way it did? What can be improved? What worked well and should be replicated in other processes?

The insights gained from analysis feed back into the design stage, and the BPM Lifecycle begins anew. Continuous improvement is at the heart of BPM, and analysis provides the information you need to make each iteration of the process better than the last.

Why the BPM Lifecycle is a useful approach

The BPM Lifecycle is not just a series of steps; it’s a philosophy of continuous improvement that can drive your business forward. It provides a structured approach to process management, ensuring that changes are made in a thoughtful, measurable, and sustainable way.

This lifecycle is particularly useful because it’s iterative. It doesn’t assume that you’ll get everything right on the first attempt. Instead, it anticipates the need for ongoing tweaks and changes, allowing you to refine your processes over time.

Moreover, the BPM Lifecycle encourages a holistic view of process management. It takes into account the people, technology, and organisational context in which processes operate, leading to more effective and comprehensive improvements.

Examples of the BPM Lifecycle

There are countless ways to apply the BPM Lifecycle in a business context. Here are five examples:

  1. Customer Service Improvement: By mapping out and analysing the customer service process, you can identify bottlenecks and areas where customers are experiencing delays or dissatisfaction. The BPM Lifecycle allows you to redesign the process to improve response times and customer satisfaction.
  2. Supply Chain Optimisation: Use the BPM Lifecycle to streamline your supply chain. By examining the process from procurement to delivery, you can find inefficiencies and implement more effective methods, reducing costs and improving speed.
  3. New Product Development: When developing a new product, the BPM Lifecycle helps ensure that each step, from concept to market launch, is as efficient as possible. It can help in managing timelines, resources, and cross-departmental collaboration.
  4. Compliance Regulation: For businesses dealing with regulatory compliance, the BPM Lifecycle can be used to ensure that processes are in line with legal requirements. Regular monitoring and analysis can help avoid costly compliance breaches.
  5. Technology Integration: When integrating new technology, the BPM Lifecycle can guide the process to ensure that the technology is implemented in a way that supports business objectives and enhances existing processes.

Limitations of the BPM Lifecycle

While the BPM Lifecycle is a powerful tool for process improvement, it has its limitations. One significant limitation is that it can be resource-intensive. It requires time, effort, and often investment in technology, which not all organisations may have.

Another limitation is that it can be complex to implement, particularly in organisations with entrenched ways of working. Certain organisational cultures will be more open to exploring and improving existing ways of working. Equally, resistance to change can hinder the successful application of the BPM Lifecycle.

It’s also important to note that the BPM Lifecycle is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each business is unique, and the model may need to be adapted to fit the specific context of your organisation.

Summary

The BPM Lifecycle is a structured approach to managing and improving business processes. It involves a series of stages – design, modelling, execution, monitoring, and analysis – that together facilitate continuous process improvement. While it has its limitations, the BPM Lifecycle is a useful tool that can lead to significant enhancements in efficiency, effectiveness, and adaptability.

Remember, the BPM Lifecycle isn’t about making changes for the sake of change. It’s about making strategic, informed improvements that will move your business forward. So, if you’re ready to take your company’s processes to the next level, consider how the BPM Lifecycle could be the roadmap to your success.

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 James Freeman-Gray 

I'm James. A change consultant and organisational development specialist. I've been working in people-centred change for over 15 years. I partner with causes, champions, teams & leaders on projects for social, environmental, technological & human good. If you think I can support in making your change a success, drop me a message. 

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