What Will Business Process Management Look Like in the Future?


Business processes, as well as the organisation of business workflows, are rapidly evolving and becoming increasingly complex. More often than not, they involve many different experts working in different locations, using a whole range of digital and mechanical tools.

Part of the increasing complexity is due to the changing structure of modern business. Teams structure can change rapidly, and team members are distributed across several remote locations. Projects also increasingly depend on external consultants and partners.

In addition, many workflows that were previously performed by human workers are now being taken over by robotic automation.

Business process mapping (BPM) must keep pace with this increasing complexity, and it must succeed in mapping out all relevant processes in a way that helps to drive innovation and that facilitates improved management in real time.

BPM was developed as a tool to improve the efficiency and productivity of business processes. Since these processes are rapidly evolving, it makes sense that BPM must also evolve in order to improve the efficiency of future workflows.

Aligning business processes with corporate strategy

As mentioned above, the organisation of workflows and teams will become more dynamic in the future and will change rapidly in adaptation to specific conditions and needs.

Because of this dynamism, BPM cannot be used as a static tool. Instead, it must be able to measure and help optimise dynamically changing processes by aligning them with the overall corporate strategy.

Since the corporate strategy is a more constant value, it can be used to calibrate the effects of rapidly changing business processes. In the past, this calibration was not built into BPM, but this is now changing.

Essentially, BPM will map the efficiency of any process by asking “How well does this process serve the corporate strategy?” This enables BPM to yield rapid results, even when a process is freshly modified.

BPM will become more flexible

In the past, it was possible to plan out entire processes with a relatively high certainty of all parts involved, and how and when they would be deployed.

But this is rapidly changing. When a new project is being set up, the required tools are already changing, and the workflow must be changed to accommodate this evolution.

Also, as projects increasingly depend on new technology, often the fastest way to implement them is by bringing in external experts. But integrating these external staff into the process mapping effort is challenging, since they work independently, and are not part of the corporate organisation.

As a result, BPM must become a lot more flexible in order to deal with these changes and uncertainties. In other words, processes can’t be fully mapped in advance. While BPM can have a framework set up in advance, it must then be able to accommodate dramatic changes at the last minute.

BPM will work hand-in-hand with the business management to reconfigure entire workflows and staff roles in a short time when necessary. This will rely on the integration of BPM with real-time operational intelligence.

All of this is especially challenging because hierarchies are getting flatter, there is less control over outsourced work, and decision-making is being decentralised.

KPIs will be critical to the success of BPM

As projects become more complex and evolve dynamically, it will be of critical importance to define and measure the most relevant KPIs. Unfortunately, there are often hundreds, or even thousands, of KPIs that can potentially be measured.

In order for BPM to be effective, it has to rely on accurate measurement of the really important KPIs, and align their performance with the corporate strategy.

Identification and implementing accurate measurement of relevant KPIs will become one of the main responsibilities of staff performing BPM.

In the past, KPIs were often chosen by “gut feeling,” but this will become much more scientific in future. The key will be to choose KPIs that are most clearly aligned with the corporate strategy, and ignoring a lot of irrelevant ones.

Integration with agile process management

Innovation processes in modern business are becoming increasingly agile.

Agile processes consist of rapid incremental iterations that generate useful intermediate results, instead of a long-term project that aims at the generation of a fully defined final product.

As a result, the final product may vary considerably from the initial idea of it at the outset of the project, due to the learning process along the way.

BPM must follow this trend. Instead of only being focused on the long-term goal of a project, it must also be aligned with the intermediate short-term goals in order to support agile process management.

Part of the agile process is that the primary objectives, tools, and critical KPIs can change dramatically from stage to stage. Once again, BPM must be able to accommodate these rapid shifts in order to be useful.

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Business ProcessLauren Ryder