January 10, 2019
The History of Business Process Management: From Customer Experience to Cost Optimization and Back Again
How It All Began
When Business Process Reengineering (BPR) emerged in the early nineties, it aimed at fundamentally rethinking how organizations do their work to dramatically improve customer service, cut operational costs, and become world-class competitors.
Michael Hammer, former professor of computer science at MIT, wrote about BPR in his 1990 article “Reengineering Work: Don't Automate, Obliterate”, stating that rather than use technology to automate antiquated business processes, companies should eliminate these processes altogether.
His claim was that most of the work being done didn’t add any value for customers, and this work should be removed, not accelerated through automation. He believed that companies should reconsider how they approach customer service and their cost structures.
Unfortunately for Hammer, BPR’s popularity waned after it got something of a bad rap, with some companies misusing it to dehumanize the work place, increase managerial control, and justify major reductions of the work force. Funnily enough, today’s modern digitalization mantra terms such as “customer-centricity,” “customer obsession,” and “outside-in,” just to name a few, have more than a passing small resemblance to the premise of BPR.
A New Era
When Business Process Management (BPM) emerged in the 2000s, it strived for increasing process efficiency supported by information technology. It was considered by many as a successor to the BPR wave of the 1990s. However, BPM put the focus on improving corporate performance by modeling and managing individual business processes and workflows, not on completely rethinking them.
Many organizations that started digitalizing their businesses used a BPM software suite to reduce costs, cycle times, and error rates. In other words, they automated the most complex and costly processes. In this way, businesses were able to build a foundation to transform manual activities into automated ones.
However, although BPM undoubtedly has delivered on much of its promise, it has also reached some of its limitations in today’s business world. As organizations move their focus from cost efficiency to customer experience, the long lasting, expensive, and inflexible traditional BPM is no longer able to meet modern business needs. Businesses now require solutions that are easy to adapt, offer rapid deployment and iterations, and are much more user-centric. With customer experience at the forefront, customer journeys are setting the context for investments in automation.
A Post-BPM World
This change has also brought about new terminology and acronyms. Forrester is already writing about a “post-BPM world” and is pushing for a shift to digital process automation (DPA) platforms to support digital transformation. These software solutions deliver great user experiences—both to customers and employees—and allow businesses to automate the hundreds of operational processes that underpin customer journeys, with incremental and fast deliveries.
DPA projects are characterized by quick starts with low initial costs, and adopt an agile approach that enables a company to both automate and reinvent existing activities and flows, as well as to let business experts (who, let’s face it, are the ones that truly understand customer journeys) manage the project thanks to low-code development techniques.
Digital transformation isn’t something that happens overnight; it happens gradually and step-by-step. Each phase of the journey requires the right approach to achieving a business’ most important goals that it has set. Because of this, digital transformation is a continuous journey that’s never really finished.
Appway Platform’s ability to automate and orchestrate customer journeys across touchpoints is one of its main strengths. In order to constantly improve the customer experience, organizations need to go beyond their boundaries and connect and integrate with external services to deliver straightforward and seamless end-to-end journeys.
With its agile development and continuous delivery approach, Appway Platform allows businesses to incrementally digitalize their operational processes with reduced time to market.
Claudia ColomboProduct Marketing SpecialistAppway