A conference room with a large screen showing a city view, perfect for presentations and enhancing communication and presentation skills of business analysts.

The Complete Guide To Business Process Management (BPM) Lifecycle

Key takeaways

  • The Business Process Management (BPM) lifecycle is a framework that helps organizations manage and improve their business processes.
  • The BPM lifecycle is important because it helps organizations ensure that their business processes are efficient and effective. 
  • The BPM Lifecycle has seven steps: (1) Plan, (2) Design, (3) Modelling, (4) Execution, (5) Monitoring, (6) Optimization, and (7) Continuous Improvement

Business Process Management (BPM) is a disciplined approach to identify, design, execute, monitor, and optimize important business processes.

It’s about ensuring that the processes you rely on to run your organization are as efficient and effective as possible.

By focusing on improving business processes, you can help your company adapt to new challenges and opportunities more easily, leading to improved performance and competitiveness.

The BPM lifecycle provides a framework for process optimization, starting from the initial phase of process planning and leading up to the continuous refinement of the process.

This cyclic process involves several key steps including the analysis, design, modeling, implementation, and monitoring of business processes.

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?

Business process management (BPM) is about aligning your business operations with your company goals, ensuring that you manage processes effectively to improve efficiency and achieve compliance.

Defining and Importance of BPM

Business Process Management (BPM) is the strategic approach to identifying, evaluating, and improving your existing business processes. Its importance lies in its ability to make your organization more adaptable, efficient, and effective.

Business process management (BPM) is a discipline that uses various methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve and optimize business processes. 

Gartner

By focusing on BPM, you’re striving to meet your objectives and maintain compliance with regulations, ensuring that your business operations are optimized for peak performance.

Core Elements of BPM

BPM revolves around several core elements:

  • Business Processes: Sequences of tasks or activities that produce a specific service or product for your customers.
  • Management: The oversight and control of these processes to maintain their efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Efficiencies: Streamlining your business processes to eliminate unnecessary steps and reduce the chance of errors.
  • Objectives: Each process should be aligned with the larger business goals you aim to achieve.
  • Streamlining: Simplifying and optimizing processes to improve flow and decrease bottlenecks.
  • Compliance: Ensuring that your processes adhere to relevant laws, regulations, and policies.

By keeping these elements in check, you ensure that your BPM efforts are cohesive and targeted.

Business Process Management Examples

BPM can be applied to any type of business process, no matter how simple or complex. 

For example, a basic process like order fulfillment can be made more efficient by introducing automation or eliminating steps that add no value. 

A more complex process like new product development can be improved by streamlining the process and introducing checkpoints to ensure quality control.

Imagine you’re handling customer service inquiries. A well-managed BPM strategy could involve:

  1. Streamlining inquiries: Standardizing the process for how inquiries are received, categorized, and handled.
  2. Improving Efficiencies: Implementing a CRM system to track interactions and automate follow-ups, saving time and resources.
  3. Enhancing Compliance: Ensuring that the customer service process is compliant with privacy laws and regulations.
A group of people discussing BPM life cycle for improved business processes

What is the Business Process Management (BPM) Life Cycle?

The Business Process Management (BPM) lifecycle is a framework that helps organizations manage and improve their business processes.  

It’s about taking a deep dive into what you do and how you do it, then finding ways to do it better.

What are the Steps in the BPM Lifecycle?

Embarking on the Business Process Management (BPM) Lifecycle, you’ll follow a series of steps to methodically improve and optimize your business processes. This journey enhances performance and ensures that each process aligns with your business goals.

1. Plan

Start by defining your objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). In the planning stage, you’ll establish what your business goals are, identify the processes that need improvement, and prioritize them based on potential impact.

An isometric illustration of a group of people in an office focusing on Business process management life cycle

The planning phase is the foundation of the BPM lifecycle. It’s where you set the stage for the improvements you want to achieve.

Here’s what it typically involves:

  • Identify Objectives: Clearly define what you want to accomplish with BPM, aligning your goals with the broader objectives of your organization.
  • Assess Current Processes: Take a thorough look at your existing processes to understand how they currently operate. Identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and pain points.
  • Determine Key Metrics: Establish the metrics by which you will measure the success of your BPM initiative. These could include time, cost, output quality, or customer satisfaction.
  • Involve Stakeholders: Engage with everyone who has a stake in the process, from front-line employees to senior management, to gather insights and ensure buy-in.

Planning is about setting a clear direction for your BPM journey and laying the groundwork for success.

2. Design

The design phase is where you develop the blueprint of your desired process. Here, you’ll layout the framework of the process, considering best practices such as Six Sigma to reduce defects and incorporating feedback from stakeholders.

A group of people studying design phase of a BPM life cycle

This stage is where creativity meets strategy, and it’s critical to devise a process that meets your objectives.

Here’s what the design phase entails:

  • Map Out the Process: Create a detailed map of the new process. Use flowcharts or BPM software to visualize the workflow and identify where tasks, data, or communication will flow.
  • Define Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly outline who is responsible for each step within the process. This clarity will help avoid confusion and ensure accountability.
  • Establish Rules and Guidelines: Set the rules that will govern the process. This includes decision points, conditional paths, and compliance requirements.
  • Consider Technology: Identify any technologies that can support the new process. This could include RPA, workflow automation tools, or data analytics platforms.

The design phase is about building a blueprint for a more efficient, effective process that’s ready for implementation.

3. Modeling and Notation

Next, you’ll use BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation), a standardized method to model out the processes. This is where you visualize the workflows and understand the impact of any changes before they are implemented.

A group of people modeling for a business process

Modeling is where your business process starts to take shape. This step turns the design into a visual representation that’s easy to understand and analyze. Here’s what it involves:

  • Create Process Models: Utilize BPM tools to create detailed models of the process. These models illustrate the flow of tasks, decision points, inputs, and outputs in a standardized format.
  • Use Standard Notation: Apply a standard notation, such as Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN), to ensure that the process models are clear and comprehensible to all stakeholders.
  • Simulate Scenarios: Run simulations using your process models to test how the process performs under different conditions. This helps in identifying potential problems before implementation.
  • Refine the Process: Based on the outcomes of your simulations, make necessary adjustments to optimize the flow and efficiency of the process.

Modeling and notation convert the abstract ideas of the design phase into concrete, actionable process maps that pave the way for effective execution.

4. Execution

Execution involves putting your designed processes into action. At this stage, employing automation tools can help streamline the operation, and using business intelligence (BI) can leverage data for informed decision-making.

An isometric diagram of a group of people standing on a process, illustrating BPM cycle

In this phase, the optimized and well-designed processes are put into practice. Here’s how it typically unfolds:

  • Implement the Process: Roll out the process as defined in the models across the organization. Ensure that all participants are trained and that the necessary resources are in place.
  • Monitor in Real-Time: Keep a close watch on the process as it functions in real-time to ensure it is working as intended and to quickly resolve any issues that arise.
  • Facilitate Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with all stakeholders to gather feedback and to keep everyone informed about how the process is performing.
  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of the process execution, including any challenges encountered and how they were addressed, to support future improvement initiatives.

Execution is about bringing the theoretical models to life and managing the real-world operation of business processes.

5. Business Process Monitoring

With the process in motion, monitoring is crucial. You should continuously track performance against your KPIs. This may involve using software tools that provide real-time data and analytics.

Monitoring is the vigilant eye of BPM, ensuring that each process performs as intended and providing insights into its operation.

An isometric image of a group of people working with BPM

Here’s how business process monitoring plays out:

  • Track Performance: Implement systems to continuously monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that were established in the planning phase. This could include cycle times, error rates, and customer satisfaction scores.
  • Identify Deviations: Keep an eye out for any deviations from the expected process performance. This helps in quickly pinpointing areas that may require attention or intervention.
  • Gather Data: Collect data on process execution to understand how the process is working in the real world. This data forms the basis for making informed decisions about process improvements.
  • Report Findings: Regularly report the performance of business processes to stakeholders. This can involve automated dashboards, periodic reports, or real-time alerts.

Effective monitoring ensures that you can maintain control over your BPM efforts and respond proactively to any issues that arise.

6. Optimization

After monitoring, you’ll analyze the process to identify areas for optimization. This may include streamlining steps, improving resource allocation, or automating more aspects of the process.

A group of people standing around a computer screen discussing optimizing of processes

Optimization is the step where you fine-tune your business processes to ensure they are as efficient and effective as possible.

Here’s what this crucial phase involves:

  • Analyze Performance Data: Use the data gathered during monitoring to identify trends, bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement.
  • Implement Improvements: Based on your analysis, make changes to the process to address inefficiencies. This could be as simple as reallocating resources or as complex as redesigning the process flow.
  • Test Changes: Before rolling out changes broadly, test them in a controlled environment to ensure they have the desired effect and don’t introduce new problems.
  • Continual Reassessment: Optimization is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Regularly reassess your processes to identify new areas for improvement.

The optimization stage is about making your good processes great and ensuring they continue to deliver value to the organization.

7. Continuous Improvement

Finally, the continuous improvement stage is an ongoing effort to refine and enhance business processes. Here, feedback loops and regular reviews are essential for sustainable process improvement and agility in your business operations.

A group of people are sitting around a table doing Continuous Improvement of business processes

Continuous Improvement is an ongoing effort to enhance products, services, or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.

Here’s how it integrates into the BPM lifecycle:

  • Assess and Reflect: Take a step back to review the performance data collected from monitoring your processes. What’s working well? What could be better?
  • Solicit Feedback: Engage with employees, customers, and stakeholders to get their insights. Often, those closest to a process can provide the most valuable feedback on how it can be improved.
  • Implement Incremental Changes: Apply small, consistent changes to your processes. These can be easier to manage than major changes and often add up to significant improvements over time.
  • Foster a Culture of Excellence: Encourage a workplace environment where every team member is always looking for ways to improve their work. This can lead to a more agile and proactive organization.
  • Review the Impact: After making changes, review the impact on process performance. Has there been an improvement? If not, why? Use this information to guide further adjustments.

Continuous Improvement isn’t just a step in the BPM lifecycle—it’s a philosophy that underpins the entire process. It’s about building a mindset within the organization where change for the better is part of the daily routine.

BPM Tools and Techniques

To effectively manage your business processes, it’s essential to utilize the right set of tools and techniques. These aids can dramatically enhance the efficiency of your workflows and help you leverage the power of automation and data analysis to its fullest.

A. Process Mapping and Documentation

Process mapping is a critical tool where you lay out your business processes in detailed diagrams, facilitating a clear understanding of each step. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a popular standardized method used here.

BPMN consists of a set of graphical elements that can be used to create a visual representation of a business process. 

Here is an overview of the objects typically used

BPMN Diagram Elements and Symbols

For documentation, ensure you have a comprehensive repository that describes workflows, resources involved, and performance metrics. This can significantly reduce cycle time and make your processes more efficient.

B. Workflow Automation

Automating repetitive tasks through dedicated software can streamline your processes, making them more efficient and less prone to human error.

Tools like Hubspot, Nintex, Jotform, (and several others) aid in implementing workflow automation, freeing up your valuable resources to focus on more strategic activities.

Example of what a workflow can look like from start to finish in Hubspot

A screen shot of a marketing funnel that depicts workflow automation

C. Process Mining and Analysis

Process mining is a technique where you use your existing data to reconstruct and analyze your business processes. It involves extracting knowledge from event logs to discover, monitor, and improve upon your existing workflows.

Tools for process mining help in providing a detailed analysis of your process performance metrics allowing for actionable insights and optimizations.

Example of process mining dashboard in Celonis

Celonis Process Mining Platform

How Are Business Process Management and Process Mining Related?

Process mining is used in conjunction with business process management to analyze and improve business processes. It is best employed when there is a need to understand the actual execution of processes, identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and compliance issues.

This data-driven approach helps organizations make informed decisions to enhance their processes effectively.

Here’s how they relate:

  • Discovery: Process Mining can be used to discover the actual processes as they are being executed. BPM takes this information to plan and design new process models or improve existing ones.
  • Analysis: Through Process Mining, you can analyze the performance of a process. BPM uses this analysis to understand how well a process is functioning and where it may be falling short of goals.
  • Monitoring: Process Mining tools allow for real-time monitoring of processes, identifying bottlenecks and deviations. BPM relies on this monitoring to maintain control over process execution and make adjustments as needed.
  • Improvement: The insights gained from Process Mining enable businesses to make data-driven decisions on how to optimize their processes. BPM takes these insights to the next level by implementing and managing these improvements.

In essence, Process Mining can act as the diagnostic tool that informs the BPM lifecycle. 

D. Utilizing AI in BPM

Incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) in BPM can elevate your process management by identifying patterns and making predictions that human analysis might miss.

AI can handle complex analysis, enhance decision-making, and further automate tasks within your workflows that were previously considered too intricate for standard automation tools.

Roles and Stakeholders in BPM

In Business Process Management (BPM), your roles and stakeholders are crucial to the lifecycle’s success. They ensure processes are carried out efficiently, goals are met, and continuous improvement is possible.

Defining Responsibilities

Key Roles:

  • Process Owners: You oversee end-to-end process management and performance.
  • BPM Team Members: Your work involves executing tasks within the process.
  • BPM Stakeholders: You could include customers, suppliers, or employees affected by process outcomes.

Responsibilities:

  • Align tasks with strategic goals.
  • Ensure accountability for each part of the process.

Here’s how you can break down responsibilities:

  • Process Owners: You ensure process effectiveness and efficiency.
  • BPM Team Members: You have clear understandings of your individual contributions.
  • BPM Stakeholders: You provide essential feedback and insights into process performance.

Collaboration and Involvement

Effective collaboration is facilitated by:

  • Regular meetings
  • Sharing platforms, like BPM software, that enhance communication.

Benefits:

  • Creates a unified vision.
  • Helps in problem-solving and idea generation.

Team efforts in BPM:

  • Define clear communication channels between process owners, team members, and stakeholders.
  • Encourage stakeholder engagement in the decision-making process.

Training and Support

Training:

  • Ensures you and your team are well-equipped to implement BPM.
  • Includes formal training sessions, workshops, and continuous learning resources.

Support:

  • IT Support: Provides the necessary tools and resolves technical issues.
  • Management Support: Offers guidance and ensures the team has resources.

Example:

Remember, your involvement, understanding of responsibilities, and access to support are the backbone of a thriving BPM lifecycle.

A group of people engaged in a discussion about business process management

Process Life Cycle: The Essentials

The BPM Life Cycle is a structured approach to managing the processes that underpin your business operations. It’s about understanding, evaluating, and continually improving these processes to meet your business goals more effectively.

By following the BPM Life Cycle, organizations can ensure they’re not just keeping up with the pace of business, but setting the pace.

Key Takeaways: Business Management Cycle

Here are the core phases of the BPM Life Cycle:

  1. Plan: The planning phase is the foundation of the BPM lifecycle. It’s where you set the stage for the improvements you want to achieve. Planning is about setting a clear direction for your BPM journey and laying the groundwork for success
  2. Design: Identify existing processes and define how they should operate. What are the end goals? What steps are necessary to reach them? This phase sets the blueprint for the desired workflow.
  3. Model: Once the design is in place, it’s time to model it. This involves creating visual representations of the new processes, often with the help of specialized software. These models can show the sequence of events, decision points, and the flow of information.
  4. Execute: Put the newly designed processes into action. This involves making the necessary changes to workflows, which may include deploying new software, training staff, and monitoring the initial performance.
  5. Monitor: Keep a close eye on the new processes to ensure they are working as planned. Monitoring can involve tracking performance metrics, gathering employee feedback, and identifying any unforeseen issues.
  6. Optimize: Use the insights gained from monitoring to fine-tune the processes. This might mean making small tweaks to improve efficiency or even rethinking aspects of the design that aren’t working as well as expected.
  7. Continuous Improvement: The BPM Life Cycle isn’t a one-and-done process. It’s about ongoing refinement and enhancement, always looking for ways to improve and adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

FAQ: BPM Lifecycle

What is the Business Process Management Life Cycle?

The Business Process Management Life Cycle is a framework that can be used to manage and improve business processes. It is a cyclical process that consists of five phases.

What is Business Process Life Cycle?

The Business Process Life Cycle is a series of steps that businesses follow to design, implement, monitor, and optimize their processes. It’s a continuous cycle aimed at improving workflow efficiency and effectiveness.

What is Process Management Life Cycle?

Process Management Life Cycle refers to the same concept as the BPM lifecycle, focusing on the systematic approach to managing and improving a company’s processes from beginning to end.

Can you explain the key stages in the BPM lifecycle?

The key stages in the BPM lifecycle include Planning, Design, Execution, Monitoring, and Optimization. Each stage has specific activities aimed at improving process quality and efficiency.

What are some common challenges faced during the BPM lifecycle?

Some common challenges include resistance to change, inadequate stakeholder engagement, lack of clear objectives, and difficulty in measuring performance effectively.

How can technology impact the success of the BPM lifecycle?

Technology, such as BPM software tools, can greatly enhance the success of the BPM lifecycle by automating tasks, providing real-time data, and facilitating better communication and collaboration among stakeholders.

Share
Eric J.
Eric J.

Meet Eric, the data "guru" behind Datarundown. When he's not crunching numbers, you can find him running marathons, playing video games, and trying to win the Fantasy Premier League using his predictions model (not going so well).

Eric passionate about helping businesses make sense of their data and turning it into actionable insights. Follow along on Datarundown for all the latest insights and analysis from the data world.