BPM – The Journey Thus Far and The Road Ahead


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Business process management today is an imperative rather than a transient management fad. Initiatives are being made across industries and geographies to continuously improve processes and keep progressing along the growth trajectory.
Here, we trace the evolution of process management, attempt to understand where we currently are, and what transformation business process management can bring.

How It Began

The concept of business process management has evolved impressively from its humble beginnings.
The notion of processes came about as early as 1776 when Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations spoke of division of labor (i.e. multiple performers working on different functions).
Fredrick Winslow Taylor introduced the idea of process improvement in 1911 when he wrote The Principles of Scientific Management. He emphasized the scientific study of work, standardization of processes, systematic training, and sound structure of employees and management. Peter Drucker’s work took a more understanding approach to employees and focused on simplification and decentralization. He also highlighted the idea of serving the customer.
With the onset of the industrial revolution, machines began to take on labor-intensive work, increasing the need to heighten efficiency.
In the late 1900s, process improvement efforts became more sophisticated in methodology and the first signs of computer technology-driven processes began to appear.
In the 1980s, FileNet developed the first digital workflow management system to route scanned documents through a predefined process. In 1986 Motorola introduced the Six Sigma methodology of process management, which focused on improvement of quality. It drew inspiration from the Total Quality Management method among others.
Lean was introduced in the early 1990s, which aimed to eliminate wastage from processes. By the late 1990s, Six Sigma was part of many large enterprises that wished to improve quality and reduce costs.
In the 2000s, Gartner coined the term Business Process Management Suites to refer to a collection of software that deal with processes. BPM software began to incorporate functions such as process modeling, management, reporting and analytics.
In the last decade, Gartner coined the term iBPM or intelligent BPM to refer to suites that include support for analytics and complex event processing.

BPM: Where we are today

In today’s customer-centric market, BPM tools are designed to deliver a wide range of capabilities such as automation, collaboration, and engagement.
With application overload becoming a serious hindrance to efficiency, organizations are also feeling the need for unified platforms or digital workplaces to integrate disparate processes and function as a singular unit.
In a survey report titled The State of BPM 2018 conducted by BPTrends, 65 percent of respondents felt that BPM methodology and technology have helped improve efficiency, versatility, and customer satisfaction. 37 percent of those who were surveyed said that their organizations have multiple high-level business process projects underway. 50 percent of the respondents who used BPM tools reported being satisfied with the software.
While understanding the landscape of BPM is interesting, the real motivator for organizations to implement BPM is to know how it can improve the way work is done.

Why your organization should adopt BPM

Here are some compelling ways that your business can benefit from implementing BPM software.
1. Efficient operations:
BPM tools improve process performance significantly. Automated processes ensure fewer errors and bottlenecks, higher quality deliverables, and faster turnaround times. BPM facilitates increased savings of time and cost. Irrespective of the methodology you choose, it will help eliminate wastage in processes. These benefits will chalk up to higher profit margins over time.

2. Document and data management:
Businesses produce massive amounts of data on any given day. Without a reliable way to organize and secure this information, businesses are setting themselves up for failure.
BPM software feature capabilities such as centralized database and role-based conditional access to ensure that authorized employees can retrieve necessary information in a secure manner.

3. Greater customer experience:
BPM helps organizations deliver on the promises they make to their customers. SLAs can be met with ease and customer expectations can be exceeded consistently. From timely delivery of products and services to superior customer service, BPM tools can help your business rank high in customer satisfaction.

4. Happier employees:
BPM streamlines operations and enhances productivity around the workplace. It eliminates day-to-day chaos such as approval delays, disorganized documents, unresolved customer complaints, and more encountered by employees. This enhances ease of work and makes for happier employees.

5. Greater compliance:
When organizations implement BPM software, the logs record every detail once processes begin to run. These logs effectively facilitate audit trails. Businesses can demonstrate compliance to industrial and legal regulations with ease.

6. Opportunities for innovation:
Optimized processes free up precious bandwidth and resources for organizations. This opens up more opportunities to innovate the way business is conducted. Resource allocation also becomes more efficient.

Business process management can prove to be a reliable insights-powered guide to business growth, if implemented correctly. Adopting a long-term unified approach to continuous process improvement can future-proof organizations from changing market demands.
BPM is not a new approach; it’s been around for a long time. It’s current state is tied closely to technology, automation, and a passion for efficiency. BPM started in factories, but is just as useful for day-to-day processes in offices. If you haven’t started using BPM practices, now is a great time to start!

Suresh Sambandam
Founder & CEO of OrangeScape, a home-grown company offering disruptive SaaS platforms for business process and workflow automation. OrangeScape is a cloud pioneer from India and was one of the global 10 platform-as-a-service (PaaS) companies featured in Gartner and Forrester reports.Passionate about entrepreneurship and technology startups, a significant amount of time is devoted to the startup ecosystem mentoring young companies. Also, a regular speaker at various industry forums & academic institutions, and the co-founder of SaaSx, an exclusive platform for SaaS entrepreneurs.


  1. Thank you so much for your insightful guide about

    Business Process Management.

    I do agree about Business process management can prove to be a reliable insights-powered guide to business growth, if implemented correctly. Adopting a long-term unified approach to continuous process improvement can future-proof organizations from changing market demands.

    We also wrote an article where we introduce the management styles and tools with some management ideas. What is Business Management?


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