Business process management, or BPM, is one of the key attributes that contributes to improved efficiency and operational effectiveness for your business. Get this right, and happy, engaged customers, better capability and flexibility, and accurate forecasting are your reward. Get it wrong, and you will find that your business becomes sluggish and inefficient. Fortunately, the right ERP platform can help make sure your business stays in the former category.
But what exactly is business process management? BPM, as the phrase suggests, refers to managing the processes that make up your business’ operations. When BPM is implemented correctly, you will find yourself focused on outcomes rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae of individual tasks. You’ll also foster a culture of more engaged team members who are ready and willing to take ownership of their duties within your company. This is crucial to businesses as it represents a step away from a collection of individualised processes, instead moving towards a more holistic operational approach.
When BPM is implemented correctly, the company becomes an organic whole, with each process integrated with all others to eliminate any gaps or sticking points.
But where does a solution like the Epicor ERP platform fit into this? How can you deploy the right software solutions to help you get the best out of your BPM initiatives?
The six steps of business process management
Before we get into how an ERP solution can revolutionise business process management within your company, let’s first take a look at BPM in a little more detail. This will give you a framework to use as you deploy the ERP software to maximum effect.
BPM consists of six steps. These are analysis, modelling, implementation, monitoring, management and automation.
First, analyse your business processes and how they impact your company’s operations. To do this, you will need to liaise with your team members to understand what happens at each stage of the primary business processes and gain an understanding of how they view the tasks they are responsible for. You will also need to take a look at the end results, including the timeframe for achieving those results, to build a comprehensive picture.
Take the data you have derived from your analysis and begin to model improved processes and procedures. You will now be aware of any procedural shortcomings, as well as points of friction. Bear these in mind as you seek to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Don’t forget to keep the positives in mind also – consider which processes are working effectively and seek to emulate these successes across the board.
Put your improved processes into action within your business’ operations. Make sure your new processes are fully integrated within the broader spectrum of your business to prevent any problematic gaps from forming.
Keep on top of these new processes with a strict system of monitoring. It’s possible that new problems or sticking points will arise, and you will need to be able to modify and manage your new set of processes in order to overcome this.
Plan any modifications and changes that may be needed. Use the insight gained from the monitoring phase to hone and fine-tune your processes before putting them into action. Remember that both management and monitoring are ongoing processes that will evolve alongside your objectives.
Deploy automation to enable repeatable processes with predictable results. Automation means that your team can sit back and adopt a less resource-intensive approach, handling monitoring and overseeing tasks rather than finding themselves bogged down in the nuts and bolts of procedural management. This is where your business can really shift into gear, achieving the kind of flexibility and capability that once upon a time would have seemed impossible.
How does ERP help with each of these steps?
Reaching out to your team members and asking them for specific feedback is useful but will only take you so far. An ERP solution can help you go further and achieve more. With an ERP solution, you will be able to pull together data from different sources to provide you with a clearer and more accurate picture of what is going on in your business. This quantifiable data can always be cross-referenced with the qualitative insights you receive from your team. Having reliable data to work with will make your analysis much more accurate and more efficient, compared to if you were working from disparate datasets or based on gut feel alone. ERP also makes the collection of data simple and straightforward, making powerful analysis something that all businesses can achieve.
Modelling with ERP software
A powerful ERP solution contains the tools and applications necessary for creating effective forecasts and helping business owners to accurately predict the effects that changes will have in the long and short term.
Implementation of BPM changes with ERP
During implementation, it’s critical to ensure new processes integrate with those that pre-exist within the operational structure. Building on the analytical data and forecasting you collected in earlier stages, an ERP solution can help to ensure an integrated approach
ERP will help with ongoing monitor of your BPM
Solutions such as the Epicor ERP platform are designed to handle large amounts of data. This is a critical capability during the monitoring phase.
Management is easier with ERP
The management phase is where we see the ERP solution showcase some of its superior capabilities. We have already seen how the data handling and integration functions of the platform make it easy to analyse and monitor business processes. But ERP software goes beyond this, enabling authorised personnel to make informed, accurate and timely management decisions. Remote cloud ERP access also means that management changes and developments can be collaborated on and implemented in real time regardless of where teams are based.
Automation – the bread and butter of ERP systems
If the management phase enables the platform to demonstrate what it can do, the automation phase represents a shift into the next gear. ERP is all about automation in your business, and the right ERP will have automation features that can be pre-programmed based on data from previous processes and results. This data will then inform the automated technology as it carries out business process management tasks, freeing up valuable resources – including human resources – that can be better deployed elsewhere.
Automation is the key to ERP’s role in business process management
The role of an ERP solution in business process management is a multi-faceted one, and it is an invaluable tool at each stage of management. However, it is at the point of automation that the solution really comes into its own. Powerful automation capabilities don’t simply reduce labour and costs for businesses – they actively work to make the business more flexible, more agile and better positioned to meet the diverse needs of your customer base.
Automation and machine learning will play a big part in the long and short-term development of businesses. ERP gives businesses of all sizes the opportunity to leverage this power and move ahead of their competitors.
Want to dive into your business processes and challenges even further? Have you considered undertaking a root cause analysis to understand more deeply the reasons behind your problems in the ‘analysis’ stage?
If you’re at the beginning of an ERP project or considering your options for an ERP Solution in the future, our team can help to set you up for success by guiding you through this process.
Enquire now about booking an ERP Kickstart for Success Consult to get started on the right foot.