Exploring The Different Methods of Digital Process Management & Digitising Operational Processes 

Over time the different methods of digital process management, workflows, automation and information management have all converged. Today underlying technologies and principles are often shared across these different fields with the difference being about area of focus and specialism rather core functionality.

The fundamental principles and strengths of Business Process Management have been incorporated to varying degrees into a wide range of solutions on the market that position themselves as “solutions to optimise and automate workflows and business processes”.

Here’s an overview of these different methods for digital process management  – all have their advantages and disadvantages. There isn’t a right one that fits all – The “right” approach will depend on the nature of the specific process concerned, business objectives, the nature of data involved as well as the specific circumstances across People, Process & Technology:

  • Business Process Management (BPM) Solutions

    • These solutions typically have a strength in digital processes management and automation. Increasingly BPM solutions can manage every aspect of a Business Process including the documents and digitisation. Powerful process management & workflow capabilities mean that they are often suited to customisations or complex and business critical process that require system or human integrations as well as extra governance and control. The more advance ones adhere to the industry standard for Business Process Modelling and Notation (BPMN 2.0).
    • BPM solutions can be on-premise and cloud-based SaaS offerings that typically fall into 2 categories:

      Application Specific These BPM solutions are typically optimised for automating and managing one or a collection of very specific end to end processes within a department such as Expenses, Account Payable, Employee or student Onboarding etc. Their strength is that they can typically be configured or customised to handle the specifics and variables of any such processes – somethings generalist solutions required a lot of customisation to achieve. This specific strength can also be a weakness as it can encourage silos and duplications in systems.

      BPM Platforms – Today BPM or workflow platforms can be highly customisable and tailored single platforms to manage and automate any business process or workflow. Typically such BPM solutions will include a broad range of information management capabilities from data capture and storage, process management, integration and automation. “Point solutions or modules” are used to provide templates for popular processes or functions allowing the platform to be customised more easily to meet specific processes and applications. Customisable BPM platforms can remove silos in information and documents, systems and cost. Key Applications include contract management, finance workflows, sales proposal management, Internal or external approvals, HR document workflows, sales order processing, case management, project management and customer specific workflows.

  • Document Management Systems


    These solutions have a strength in the management of document and content. However, frequently document management platforms have workflow capabilities. Whilst these solutions can also include “point solutions or templates” for certain departmental processes, the workflow management capabilities are typically quite limited and may require heavy customisation to accommodate more complex processes.

  • An existing business management system


    Many businesses run their operations on several Core business IT systems such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Supply Chain Management (SCM) system. These systems are used to manage the core operational processes and information of a business – ie financial, customer, supply. BPM principles are used to help update and managed these systems and processes because of their critical importance. However, updating, customising these systems is widely recognised to be complex, time consuming and expensive. This is one of the principle reasons for the raise in BPM and workflow solutions. BPM solutions nearly always work alongside and integrate with these central systems to fill any gaps in specific, custom and departmental processes

  • Collaboration platforms & workplace productivity suites


    Collaboration and workplace productivity solutions such as Microsoft Office 365 often have basic mechanisms or apps for workflows. The Business Process Management of capabilities are still quite limited but becoming more advanced ie Microsoft Power platform. For customers already invested in the Microsoft Power Platform and with access to the necessary skills, basic workflows can be built on this platform

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)


    Whilst not necessarily a BPM solution, RPA solutions have become more of a platform solution and include workflow and orchestration in the same way as Document or Business Process Management solutions have incorporated Automation.
    RPAs strengths are in the automation of manual and repetitive tasks involving structured data rather than management and optimisation of workflows and end to end processes.

There isn’t one right way to digitising processes or workflows. Each approach has advantage and disadvantages in different circumstances. The right approach for you will depend on the state of your operations across People, process & technology as well as your business & technical requirements.

More Information & How Can We Help?

We offer no-obligation assessments, consultations and business cases to help you identify the right approach to digitising processes and operations for organisation. To find out more or to book a consultation, please call +44 (0)1962 835053, email enquiries@processflows.co.uk, or fill in the form below.

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