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Definition of Process Management: What It Is and Why You Need It

A business can only function to its fullest potential with proper process management. 

As many businesses converted to remote work during the 2020 pandemic, a lot of process management became digital as well. While employees eventually returned to their offices, process management had found a new home in the cloud.

With this sudden change and interest in perfecting process management, it’s worth doing a deep dive into what process management actually is. And as a company that, in all honestly, benefitted from that shift, we have a lot to say on the matter.

In this blog post, we will go over:

The definition of process management

Okay, so what is process management exactly?

Process management – or business process management (BPM) – is the technique used by organizations to analyze, optimize, monitor, and control various business processes.

With BPM, companies are able to: 

  • Automate recurring processes, so they always run smoothly
  • Analyze past processes to see what went right and what didn’t
  • Track metrics across different processes
  • Perform risk analysis to mitigate future risks
  • Measure efficiency using previous data

Why bother with process management?

BPM is something every organization needs because it helps you better understand your business.

By using BPM, you can analyze all of your business processes to find inefficiencies and come up with solutions to fix and optimize them. It makes everyday operations run much smoother and improves the management of resources.

But those are just the small benefits.

The other benefits of doing this are immense. Not only does it save your organization time and money, but it also allows your business to respond to customer and market demands much faster.

Benefits of clearly defining process management

Understanding the definition of BPM means you can better differentiate it from program and project management. Knowing the difference between the three types of processes means you will be able to use them all effectively.

With BPM, it’s important to remember that it’s for recurring processes within your organization. These are generally ongoing processes within a business and don’t have a specific end, like employee onboarding. That’s its biggest differentiating factor.

Project management is the delivery of a specific product or service. There is a clear beginning and end to it. Projects are generally one-time things that don’t repeat, and a team may only work on one at one time.

Program management is somewhere in between the other two. It deals with managing the interdependencies between different projects. Like BPM, program management is generally ongoing, but unlike BPM, it doesn’t deal with the processes related to the business as a whole.

How to educate your team on the definition of process management

Team members are more susceptible to change than many managers tend to give them credit for. However, far too often, BPM is met with a “set and forget” kind of attitude. There’s very little change.

When it comes to educating your team on the definition of process management, your approach is more important than how you word the definition. Ask yourself this:

  • Why do I want my team to know the definition of process management?
  • How will the team benefit from knowing the definition?
  • What are my expectations of the team after we discuss BPM?
  • Do I want my team’s ideas, or do I just want them to know what BPM is in general?

If you just want your team to know what BPM is, then your approach probably isn’t the right one. 

Your team members are the ones working with established processes every day, and they probably already know what could be improved. When you introduce process management to your team, it should be a way for you to open up that line of communication with your team.

They should be comfortable coming to you with their ideas for improving processes from this point forward. Their ideas should always be listened to.

Business process management models defined

Modeling business process management is the act of representing an organization’s processes so they can be analyzed, improved, and potentially automated.

The whole idea of BPM models is to have a physical representation of a process laid out in a way that makes sense to anyone who looks at it, whether it be engineers or stakeholders. Think of it as like a mind map.

Examples of process management models

How you go about modeling your business processes is up to you, but there are a few well-established models to help you get started.

Flow charts

Probably the most well-known models, flow charts are simple and easy to make. Just by using a variety of shapes connected by arrows, you can easily demonstrate how certain parts of a process flow into another. 

These generally work best for simple processes or simplifying more complicated ones.

Business Process Modeling Notation

The Business Process Modeling Notion (BPMN) maps out business processes using a graphical notation. Created by Object Management Group (OMG), the goal of BPMN is to make even the most complex business processes comprehensible to everyone on a team, from software developers to business analysts.

You can actually learn how to create a BPMN free on OMG’s website if this is the model you want to go with. 

Gantt charts

Gantt charts were created by American mechanical engineer Henry Gantt and have been around for more than 100 years. These charts are best used for processes that are time sensitive as they use bars to track deadlines of certain tasks or projects. 

Gantt charts are sequential and very easy to understand. There’s a good reason they’re still commonly used today. 

Data flow diagrams

Data flow diagrams (DFDs) allow you to visualize data streams. DFDs work like flow charts but generally have a much larger key to help keep the various shapes and colors clear and organized. 

These help so you can see how data flows within a process and between processes as well. They are generally better for your team and not stakeholders because they can get a bit convoluted depending on how much data is being represented.

Process management templates

Check out our blog post on essential processes for HR teams. It’s sometimes better to implement BPM in HR teams first, and this post contains 60 free templates for your team to try out. 

If you’re having a difficult time deciding which one to try first, I recommend this one:

Show workflow  
New Hire Onboarding Process Template
Click here to add this workflow to your free Process Street account.

How to optimize your process management system

Optimizing your process management system is all about establishing a system of continuous improvement. 

Continuous improvement means never settling. There is no “This works great, let’s leave it as is,” but rather an attitude of, “This works great, but is there a way to make it even better?”

We have a whole blog post full of advice on how to use continuous improvement to optimize processes if you want to learn more. 

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