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Business process management provides agility in lean times

John Moore | Dec. 11, 2013
When financial times are tough, the capability to streamline business processes, improve efficiency and achieve agility would appeal to any company. That's why firms today are increasingly finding new and sometimes unique ways to use BPM tools.

A "pretty complex project" followed the IT forms work, Larsen notes. The town used K2 to help create an Idea Management System that lets employees submit ideas for process improvement. The system sends ideas out for comment, then routes them to the town's managers and executive team.

Last year, Gilbert used K2 to retool its budget process. In the past, each department manager created a budget on Excel and submitted it to the budget management staff, which compiles the town's budget. Now, automated forms and workflows replace the individual spreadsheets.

The K2 and InfoPath combination provides a user interface to the town's core financial system and routes the data to the Gilbert's SharePoint server, which houses the town's master budget lists. The lists then become a one-stop view into all departmental budget requests for the next five years that the executive team can review and process.

Organizations are also beginning to look outwardly with BPM, toward customers and citizens. Golbin says BPM plays a role in areas such as call center automation but notes that even back-office processes may play a customer support role. "We always try to look end to end ... at our processes with the customer in mind."

Russell Keziere, senior director of corporate marketing at Pegasystems, suggests that other BPM users are moving in the customer direction as well. "CIOs are looking to us to better engage their customers."

E. Scott Menter, vice president of business solutions at BP Logix, adds that the conventional view considers BPM a back-office technology for improving internal processes. "The truth is, the technology gives you a lot more than that," he says, noting that BPM can help organizations reach out to customers, partners and suppliers.

BPM's Ease of Use Makes Workflows Straightforward
Customers say their BPM tools make it a straightforward task to create processes and workflows and modify them once deployed.

"K2 is able to put out workflows fairly quickly depending on how complex they are," Larsen says, adding that K2's designer component creates workflows in a drag-and-drop fashion and doesn't require coding.

Adriaan Van Wyk, K2 CEO, says speed and agility become important factors in a rapidly changing business environment, noting fast changing customer demand. He also cites the new generation of young workers who demand flexibility: "They see a problem and want to solve it immediately."

McLendon says Vulcan Materials builds the best process it can through BP Logix and then goes back later to optimize the process. The company, he says, may find that a process includes an unnecessary step that can be eliminated. If that's the case, "It's not really difficult to go back and modify things."


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