Many enterprises are focusing on re-engineering and speeding up their business processes. Today, it is not enough to just speed up; customer expectations, technology changes, and the markets demand more. Processes need to be adaptive too. This adaptive version of BPM is called Agile Business Process Management. There are several tools available to implement this.
Re-engineering and automation can make the same process faster and repeatable with more accuracy, but agility and adaptability make it responsive to changes and new inputs on the fly.
Successful organizations often have changing and evolving business processes as part of business transformation. An Agile methodology is a correct approach to automation in this case: you can start with small steps and continue to grow your automation as your business evolves.
Traditionally, the processes in the old BPM were used only for automation of structured repeated processes in a pattern, running over a long period of times. They were not designed to react in real-time or to immediate feedback. This is where Agility is added to BPM.
Agility helps you respond to information quickly in a set of given circumstances. Now Agility is finding its way into BPM to make it more effective and responsive to those changing circumstances.
In an Agile BPM scenario, the BPM half of it must provide traditional automation in fixed ways to carry out the repeatable part of the business processes. At the same time, the Agile part of it must provide the ability to act in real-time to unforeseen circumstances in those same processes.
Agile BPM caters well to processes that cannot be always predictable, and it lets users handle difficult cases that would have required someone to step out of the process in the real world. In this way, it is a plus over traditional formalized process management. It is implemented in cases where processes are unpredictable, need to change fast, and people need to focus on non-repetitive tasks or more on knowledge work and less on drudgery.
Regular BPM method is ideal for common financial transactions which need to be carried out consistently for compliance reasons. In contrast, Agile BPM is perfect in a healthcare scenario where a doctor's actions may not be predictable and vary per patient.
Therefore, if a process focuses on transactions, a simple BPM will do, but if it focuses on knowledge, it needs to be carried out via Agile BPM. BPM leads to efficiency and automation; Agile BPM will lead to solving problems.
Organizations that need people to do more knowledge work and less repetitive work, and who need collaboration to speed up work, are ideal candidates for Agile process management.
The key part of this is Information agility: managing information in such a way that you can respond to rapid changes taking place in the market or the organization.
With a Business Process Management tool that is Agile, the process no longer needs to fit into a flowchart structure. Sudden changes in the market condition or process changes, especially, can be accommodated. Certain tools that make BPM Agile put the process management in the hands of users. These users drive automation and provide new kinds of reports and workflow statuses that give more visibility to everything.
Agile BPM tool must:
BPM and Agile should go hand in hand in most organizations; however, BPM does not always allow Agile modifications. In such cases, the user steps out of the system to resolve the situation. This makes analytics go haywire as there is no time tracking of the activities outside the system.
A key advantage of Agile BPM is that it motivates employees to adopt newer processes and brings down resistance to change. Resistance is mainly due to two reasons: employees feel something is imposed on them, or they do not agree with the way the process is defined. Now in Agile BPM, you can make employees feel invested by allowing them access to information about the process structure and its execution, via wikis, blogs, and articles. Some tools even have social extensions for this purpose.
With collaboration being such a key feature of Agile BPM tools, employees become more involved in solving problems, and it helps them use their knowledge to jointly solve issues. Task flow is not linear, so different people can pool in their resources at the same time; no one needs to wait for someone to finish their task.
Agile BPM is a great way step forward from the regular structure and rigidity of traditional BPM due to its main ingredients, flexibility, and adaptability. There is a long way to go before perfect Agile BPM implementation tools are created, but the advantages of the approach are clear.