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.

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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.

Businesses are dynamic, so their goals and processes are continually evolving. For that reason, business process management should be considered a continuous practice rather than a one-off event — prompting some people to suggest that it would be better named “business process improvement.”

Business process management goals

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

Value of business process management

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.


Robotic process automation (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 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.

Business process management software

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 allow 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 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: $66,000
  • Continuous improvement manager: $86,000
  • Process analyst: $63,000
  • Process engineer: $74,000
  • Process improvement engineer: $72,000
  • Process improvement manager: $83,000
  • Senior process engineer: $101,000

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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