by Paul Rubens, Thor Olavsrud

What is business process management? The key to enterprise agility

May 31, 2022
BPM SystemsEnterprise ApplicationsTechnology Industry

Business process management (BPM) is the practice of discovering and controlling an organization’s processes to align them with business goals as the business evolves.

managing business process cycle rotate phases
Credit: Thinkstock

What is business process management? The key to enterprise agility

Business process management (BPM) is the practice of discovering and controlling an organization’s processes to align them with business goals as the business evolves.

Business process management definition

Business process management (BPM) is the practice of discovering and controlling an organization’s processes to align them with business goals as the business evolves. BPM software helps organizations define the steps required to carry out a business task, map definitions to existing processes, and then streamline or improve the processes to make them more efficient.

BPM is sometimes alternately called business process improvement (BPI), business process re-engineering, continual improvement process (CIP), or process improvement.

Business process management goals and benefits

The goal of BPM is to help your organization minimize errors, reduce waste, and improve productivity and efficiency. BPM Institute says BPM should focus on three outcomes:

  1. Clarity on strategic direction
  2. Alignment of the firm’s resources
  3. Increased discipline in daily operations

Business processes are essential to the operations of almost every company. They are the blueprints for all kinds of business functions, enabling disparate parts of the organization to work together and to interact with suppliers and customers.

A company can only be as flexible, efficient, and agile as the interaction of its business processes allow. Here’s the problem: Many companies develop business processes in isolation from other processes they interact with, or worse, they don’t “develop” business processes at all. In many cases, processes simply come into existence as “the way things have always been done,” or because software systems dictate them. As a result, many companies are hampered by their processes, and will continue to be so until those processes are optimized.

Business process management software and tools

BPM tools provide organizations with a systematic approach to managing and optimizing their business processes by helping organizations design, model, implement, and measure workflows and business rules. They frequently enable non-IT specialists to build business workflows and connect disparate systems. Core capabilities include:

  • Workflow management: for designing, testing, and executing the interactions between employees, systems, and data
  • Business rules engine: for creating business rules and conditions
  • Form generator: for building web forms
  • Collaboration: tools for discussion, decision management, and idea management
  • Analytics: for defining metrics and KPIs and generating reports
  • Integrations: for using data across systems and via interfaces such as Salesforce

Some of the top BPM tools include:

  • Agiloft
  • Appian
  • Arrayworks
  • AuraPortal
  • Bizagi
  • Bonitasoft
  • BP Logix
  • IBM
  • Newgen Software
  • Nintext
  • OpenText
  • Oracle
  • Pegasystems
  • SAP
  • Software AG
  • TIBCO Software

Business process management examples

The following case studies show how companies have used business process management to solve real-world business problems.

  1. Mitel Networks turns to kaizen to streamline business processes: After a spate of acquisitions, Mitel Networks found itself with an assortment of 18 ERP systems, 12 CRM systems, 5 HR systems, and other duplicate software. It adopted kaizen, a philosophy and set of practices for continuous process improvement, to trim the fat.
  2. Eaton’s RPA center of excellence pays off at scale: Industrial manufacturer Eaton is using BPM and RPA to identify and automate activities such as sifting through and generating responses to emails and orchestrating process flows in financial, HR, and other corporate systems.
  3. Anthem taps RPA, AI in digital transformation push: Health insurance company Anthem is using BPM and RPA to balance data center workloads to make IT operations nimbler.


As noted in the above examples, many enterprises are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) as part of their strategy for streamlining business processes, creating some confusion around BPM and RPA.

RPA is an application of technology, governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes. RPA tools enable companies to configure software (“bots”) to capture and interpret applications for things such as processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems. BPM, on the other hand, is a holistic approach to optimizing and automating business processes. RPA is a tool that can be used as part of a company’s BPM strategy.

Business process management certifications

Nothing can replace experience, but BPM certifications can prove your knowledge of business process management best practices and concepts. Here are some of the top BPM certifications:

  • ABPMP Certified Business Professional (CBPP): The Association of Business Process Management Professionals International’s CBPP certification is based on the association’s BPM Common Body of Knowledge (BPM CBOK), which sets out a baseline of the fundamental knowledge, skills, and competencies required for BPM practitioners. The certification requires four years of experience in process management, process improvement, or process transformation, and the completion of a multiple-choice exam.
  • BPM Institute BPM Certification: This certification is offered by the BPM Institute. Candidates must have three to four years of experience and pass an exam that covers elements of the BPM discipline, including: concepts and principles, process modeling, process improvement (analysis and design), process measurement, process technologies (BPMN, BPMS), BPM governance, and BPM center of excellence.
  • AIIM+ Process Automation and Business Process Management Certificate of Specialization: The Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM) offers a series of BPM courses. After completing a course, candidates have six months to pass a final exam to earn their certification.
  • OMG Certified Expert in BPM 2 (OCEB 2): The Object Management Group’s (OMG) certification was authored by representatives from OMG’s members, including tool vendors, technology services professionals, consultants, academics, and IT training producers and presenters. There are two exam tracks (business and technical).

Business process management jobs

Here are some of the most popular job titles related to BPM and the average salary for each position, according to data from PayScale:

  • Business process analyst: $51K-$91K
  • Business process manager: $57K-$126K
  • Continuous improvement manager: $$59K-$123K
  • Process analyst: $$48K-$91K
  • Process engineer: $$59K-$105K
  • Process improvement engineer: $$55K-$93K
  • Process improvement manager: $$54K-$122K
  • Senior process engineer: $$81K-$134K