Business Process Engineering Vs. Business Process Management Vs. Business Process Automation – What’s The Difference?
Broadly, there is a great deal of discussion and indeed misconceptions for the average user (and even project managers), as to the differences between Business Process Engineering (BPE), Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Process Automation (BPA).
Very often the terms are considered to be almost identical in meaning, but in fact to industry experts these terms are very different, even though they are closely related to each other.
BPE, BPM and BPA can all promote their own methodologies and starting points to streamline business activities, which can have a profound effect on the outcome.
The thinking behind the Business Process Engineering model, is that it’s necessary to document and define at an enterprise wide level, all of the business processes that can be automated and/or streamlined.
Once this has been done, individual business processes within an organisational unit can be specified and can be eventually automated (BPA). This approach could be considered to be of the widest effect for an organisation, but also has the downside of being a potential behemoth of confusion, misinterpretation, red tape and specification errors.
In the real world, such projects take an inordinate amount of manpower, co-ordination and therefore pose considerable risk to the success of a project or even complete implosion. For this reason the BPE model has gone past its sell by date
The Business Process Management approach is far more realistic. It pre-supposes that before any process can be automated, it is necessary to define all of the business processes running inside the area of interest, such as a departmental or business unit level. From this vantage point, all of the individual business processes can be more easily defined implemented and where necessary optimised and automated.
The Business Process Automation approach may well be the most powerful of all, as it typically places more emphasis on the ‘pain points’ of a business and thus more likely to get funding in the short term as streamlining inefficient manual tasks have the fastest R.O.I. Projects which are BPA focused might seem a bit like the tail wagging the dog, but have the distinct advantage of being generally cheaper, faster to deploy, easier to implement and can be incrementally tweaked until optimal performance is reached.
Although the BPM approach may seem to be the most appropriate and professional choice for a business to adopt at the outset, the power of learning from a single well engineered BPA project should not and cannot be underestimated.
The experience gleaned from automating one process, will almost certainly provide a tremendous amount of insight and multiple opportunities to fast track any future stages of a wider project.
Focusing on a single achievable goal can also be very motivating for all those involved in a project, who after a ‘good win’ will be champing at the bit to tackle the next challenge.