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Business Process Management

  • A business process comprises a "series or network of value-added activities, performed by their relevant roles or collaborators, to purposefully achieve the common business goal.

    These processes are critical to any organization: they may generate revenue and often represent a significant proportion of costs. As a managerial approach, BPM considers processes to be strategic assets of an organization that must be understood, managed, and improved to deliver value added products and services to clients.

    This foundation is very similar to other Total Quality Management or Continuous Improvement Process methodologies or approaches. BPM goes a step further by stating that this approach can be supported, or enabled, through technology to ensure the viability of the managerial approach in times of stress and change. In fact, BPM is an approach to integrate a "change capability" to an organization - both human and technological. As such, many BPM articles and pundits often discuss BPM from one of two viewpoints: people and/or technology.

    Business process management may be on the lips of many, but it is being actively pursued as a dedicated discipline by relatively few in the corporate world. This is one conclusion of a critical study on BPM from the folks at AIIM. The non-profit organization says that 57 percent of respondents surveyed reported the absence of a specific group responsible for BPM initiatives in their organizations.

    As a result, many IT managers are confused and potentially misinformed about the actual state of business process effectiveness in their organizations. "Whether processes are documented or undocumented, manual or automated, optimized or sub-par, [knowing this status is] the core of any functioning organization," states AIIM Vice President Carl Frappaolo. "The spread of process excellence, from the manufacturing industry into the world of 'knowledge workers,' across all industries, has been a long, slow journey. And many have yet to embark on the journey."

    Perhaps the biggest shift that must take place is in the minds of IT managers.

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