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Johnson, Sarah Louise

 Four Stages of Business Process Management

    Business Process Management (BPM) provides a vital layout for developing, managing, and evolving a company's procedures that include how they manage transactions with clients and also the information systems that support these transactions.  BPM consists of four primary stages that, as you will see, occur in a cyclical fashion.  These four stages are:

         1)  Model Processes
         2)  Create Components
         3)  Implement Processes
         4)  Assess Results

    Stage 1: Model Processes
        This stage revolves around strategy and planning.  Often this stage begins with a model of the current procedures that a company follows during the course of transaction; this model is called an "as-is model".  Once this model has been created, adjustments are made to address a particular problem that a company has identified, such as being short on inventory without realizing it, or having problems or confusion with the line of authority within the company.  The model is then analyzed in terms of the problem at hand and can be adjusted in a way that enables the company to resolve the problem with some restructuring of the process, thus creating a new model and increasing organization and efficiency within the company's procedures. 
        BPM models utilize a set of notations and are set up similar to that of a flow chart.  They can be relatively simple or extremely complex.  While many companies have their own set of symbols and standards that they use in the development of a BPM model, the Object Management Group has set up certain standards to follow.  These can be found at http://www.bpmn.org/ .

    Stage 2: Create Components
        This stage is the primary information systems stage of the process.  It involves the various types of systems that are being used or will be used by a company in their transaction processes as well as their relationships to other areas of the process.  The use of these systems often ties two other processes together through data collection and storage that is to be transferred between departments.  An example of this is registering for an event online.  A company had to make a decision whether to have an option to call in and register with a person or to set up a system to have attendees register online instead, just filling out forms on a website.  The company also has to choose the manner in what type of system to use for this process that will be most effective.  This system must run functionally, otherwise a person may show up to an event and find that their name never made it onto the final list or that a special request they made was not fulfilled.  The systems must be properly utilized and kept up to date to remain effective.  For example, a computerized inventory system is no use of problems that the computer cannot recognize, such as damaged goods, are not input in the system to keep the inventory accurate.  While people also play a role in the components stage, the use of technology is becoming increasingly prevalent.
       After having recognized a problem and building a new model to address the problem, companies alter current or implement new components that the new model will utilize to be successful.
    Stage 3: Implement Processes
        At the point of reaching this third stage, the company is ready to put their new plan into motion.  They will take the new model and its components and put them in place.  This can be a step that takes place within the functions of just one or two departments that are having problems or it can be company wide.  Either way, the parties that will be effected by the new processes must be informed of the changes.  By keeping everyone affected up to date with new changes in procedure, the company can better improve the chances that their newly developed processes are properly understood and have a chance to be truly successful.  Employees will know how to work with the changes and while some may be reluctant to change, the importance of always striving for improvement in an ever changing business world should be emphasized to get company support in implementing change.

    Stage 4:  Assess Results
        At this point, a problem has been identified, a possible solution and the necessary components have been determined, and everything has been put into place within the business' operating processes.  So, this last stage is the evaluation process.  Anytime a change is implemented to solve a problem, one must assess the results of this change to see if it has truly been effective and also to determine if, overtime, there may now be additional room for improvement. Oftentimes there is.  A successful company will continually be evolving.  The assessment will determine whether or not the new process has been effective. If it has not been, then the process begins again from step one.  If it has been successful, the process will still begin again to either find new problems or determine improvements that can be made to the most recent process change.  Either way, the company returns to step one again to continue striving for improvement.

Considering the rapid pace at which a business can change, whether they are opening up new locations, increasing a client base within their current location, or hiring a large number of new employees, one can see the importance of following a process management cycle.  By keeping the cycle moving regularly, businesses are able to maintain or increase their efficiency and productivity as a result of continual forward progress and evaluation of their procedures.


Begin the following YouTube at the 4:30 point to view a lecture on Business Process Management.

Process Management Lecture