In order to do business, companies need to buy and develop many applications. These applications help companies perform various functions. Usually, employees may need to access multiple applications to perform an end-to-end function or what we call a business process.
Take, for example, Order Management. In order to take and complete an order, you may need to access CRM system, Inventory Management, Fulfillment, Shipping and Accounting systems. Most of the times these applications are standalone or at best have point-to-point integration. There may be many activities that you need to perform while processing an order that may not be covered with any of these applications. These activities are called process whitespaces, the steps that are not covered with any of your applications. Usually such activities are performed using emails, phone calls, memos, exchanging spreadsheets etc. These are the shadow processes in your organization - the undocumented, unaudited, non-traceable activities. So where is the problem, you may ask. Problem is that these manual activities cause inefficiency in the organization. In the example above, you may not have visibility into the status of an order at any given point in time, and you’ll tend to run business using dated reports. If a customer calls in to check order status, your employees have to access multiple systems to provide that information to the customer. This leads to waste as well as leads to employees taking decisions based on outdated or incomplete information.
In some cases, your company may also be exposed to compliance risks for not having traceability for all required activities. Using manual procedures means that your compliance and audit costs go high, hitting your bottom line and exposing your company and employees to fines or penalties.
One of the key values of BPM is to fill these process whitespaces and make your business more efficient. The idea is not to replace your existing systems or applications. The idea is to leverage your applications (CRM, ERP, SCM) and define an end-to-end efficient process that fills the whitespaces. Let the applications do what they are best at. Do not make unnatural customizations to COTS applications to fit your processes. Use BPM to bring application together and create custom processes. Any activity that is performed in BPM based application is auditable, efficient and enhances visibility across your business. Check out this demo that talks about using BPM to create efficient processes on top of your applications.