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What is business process management?

Business Process Management (BPM) optimizes operations and cultivates a culture of constant improvement. Despite its benefits, some businesses still struggle with BPM, often confusing it with BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation). Understand the differences between BPM and BPMN, and discover how Nintex Process Manager simplifies this critical business practice.

Business process management definition

BPM is the common acronym for Business Process Management (BPM) and describes the method of capturing, understanding, and improving the way your business provides products and services to your customers. A healthy BPM approach engages teams in the pursuit of operational excellence and fosters a culture of continuous improvement. While this is not an uncommon acronym or business practice, many enterprise-sized organizations are still not leveraging the increased visibility and control that BPM practices can deliver that differentiates them from their competitors.

The State of Business Process Management recently reported that 65% of organizations agreed that BMP had improved their efficiency, versatility, and customer satisfaction. And Gartner’s Leaders toolkit: Business Process Management states that 80% of business respondents feel process management value is higher than ERP, CRM or SCM to achieve an increased competitive advantage. Given this, it’s strange to understand why so many are overlooking something so essential to remain competitive in these difficult times.


BPM is often confused with BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) which is a graphical method of representing business processes within a business process diagram and is historically known as the ‘de facto’ format for documenting business processes.

BPMN was developed as an international ‘language’ for describing business processes, it provides a complex and complete set of symbols and codes to define and describe procedures in a business environment. The resulting flow charts are intended to visually depict the details of business activities and their flow in an organization, making traditional text-based procedures a thing of the past.   Unfortunately, although this language is readily available, a significant number of BPMN clients struggle to discombobulate the process steps, understand the complex language, and embed it.  This approach is also heavily reliant on sufficient highly technical and qualified process experts, and enough companies that rely on BPMN will experience process breakdowns, non-conformance, and troubling degrees of wasted time or resources.

Unlike BPMN best practices BPM tools like Nintex Process Manager are easy to understand, accessible, encourage employee engagement and feedback and allow you to hand process back to the business so it is embedded and becomes part of business as usual (BAU) supporting process excellence ambitions and revolutionize your process management.

What is the BPM lifecycle?

The BPM lifecycle standardizes the process of implementing and managing business processes inside an organization and is made up of five cyclical stages, design, model, implement, monitor, and optimize that support continuous improvement and process excellence.

Regardless, if you are onboarding a new employee, applying for a new credit card, or responding to a customer complaint, these repeated plentiful activities completed in the same precise way are all ripe for process mapping, management, improvement, and even automation and are key to a corporation’s successful ongoing operation.

  1. The design phase:

The first step in the lifecycle is “design,” in this phase you will start by capturing a thorough understanding of how the process is currently performed.  You’ll need to interview all people who perform, support, or are impacted by this process, review any pre-existing documents, get clear on unwritten business rules, and observe it in action.

Some helpful questions to ensure you have an intricate understanding of the entire end-to-end process are:

    • Do you know the starting point of the process?
    • What are all the steps and in what order do they happen?
    • What is the end result of the process?
    • Who is responsible for each task and when it transitions to a new task owner?
    • Process dependencies – does it currently integrate with other systems?
    • How long does it currently take to complete?
    • Who performs each task (a service, a system, or a person)
    • Any current documentation that supports the process (or what key data points would be included in one if one were to be developed).
  1. The model phase:

The second step in the lifecycle is the “model”. Its purpose is to provide a visual representation of the process’s current phases, to improve things you must first understand how things are now (as-is) and then plan for how you want them to be in the future (to-be) once changed.  It’s recommended that the ‘to-be’ is socialized far and wide for both feedback, then approval.  This collaborative approach will flush out any discrepancies and increase buy-in of the new process and longer-term adoption.

  1. The implementation phase:

The implementation stage is the stage where you test the new model to see if it works in real-life scenarios. This will allow you to ensure that everything is working well and that any concerns have been resolved and any opportunities can be included before rolling the final process to a much larger audience.  This approach increases confidence and the chances of a stress-free adoption.

  1. The monitor phase:

The fourth step of the BPM lifecycle “monitor” involves making sure the ‘new’ business processes are followed and measured in a repeatable manner to determine your return on investment over time. You might choose to develop KPIs that measure success (or lack thereof) like time, or cost to serve in dollars savings, preventable bottlenecks, delays, or potential mistakes.

  1. The optimize phase:

Optimize phase uses the insights captured in phase 4 – ‘Monitor’ and makes further process tweaks, that will make your process even more efficient. Good monitoring systems will enable you to achieve complete optimization and process excellence to eliminate wasted labor, improve output quality, ensure process compliance, and shorten speed-to-market.

What is Business Process Management?

What are the benefits of BPM?

Visibility matters when it comes to your processes. Best practice BPM tools, like Nintex Process Manager, will allow you to identify, optimize, and drive efficiency across your entire enterprise and can:

  • Quickly turn complex maps and documents, into consistent, compliant, and easy-to-understand process maps. ​
  • Embed process ownership, collaboration, and accountability by handing the process back to the business.
  • Intuitive feedback tools being used by engaged employees will optimize processes – all possible from the office, home, or on the road.
  • Increase organizational control, ease auditing with mandatory approvals, escalations, and notifications.
  • Safeguard operational impacts from staff turnover, knowledge loss, and improve new employee onboarding. ​
  • Increase operational speed and efficiency by mapping, evaluating, identifying, and managing opportunities to improve your processes.​
  • Personalized dashboards create total process visibility with live state changes.
  • Real-time process health summaries with team engagement stats and automatic tracking of every existing process, no matter its current state.

Business Process Management (BPM) Benefits

What are examples of BPM?

Discovering, mapping, managing and monitoring your processes with BPM can be applied to any repeatable set of business steps. Some examples of processes that have been improved by BPM are recruiting, onboarding, and provisioning process, and Help desk support process.

Goal: Turbocharge recruiting, onboarding, and provisioning

Finding the perfect candidate can be time-consuming and costly. Onboarding and provisioning equipment results in piles of paperwork and lost time. Get them productive without delay, by mapping your process and use automation to provide new starter forms, approvals, equipment, accounts, software licenses and more. Fast-tracking onboarding across departments—will help your new employee settle in fast and get to work.


  • Help employees get to work faster by mapping, automating, and optimizing the onboarding processes so that your new talent can get set up quickly and easily. Empower them from day one and watch them hit the ground running.
  • Increase employee retention, the average attrition for first-year employees is 13 percent, much of this is attributed to ineffective onboarding. With seamless onboarding, employees stay longer, cutting hiring costs with lower staff turnover.
  • Build trust and alignment with effective onboarding your new hires will be well informed about organizational initiatives and goals and eager to perform.

Goal: Improving your help desk support process with digital forms and workflows

It’s easy to be more efficient and save time to make better use of talent when you automate common help desk tasks. By mapping your help desk processes to identify automation areas. You can eliminate repetitious tasks—including assigning tickets for completion, tracking response metrics, and even accessing the support portal itself.


  • Accelerate response time by solving problems faster so you can get employees back to work without delay.
  • Track service levels and get real-time data with insights into the number of incidents, time to resolution, and user satisfaction.
  • Respond from anywhere and provide remote-accessible process applications to handle