Business Process Management (BPM) Key Initiative Overview

Archived Published: 22 July 2011 ID: G00214478


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Business process management is a discipline that improves enterprise performance by driving operational excellence and business agility. This guide offers pointers on what enterprises need to know and do to establish and manage a BPM program.


Figure 1. Business Process Management (BPM) Key Initiative Overview
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (July 2011)

Business process management is a discipline that treats business processes as assets that directly contribute to enterprise performance by driving operational excellence and business agility.

A BPM program brings common business processes into a fresh view for evaluation and improvement that will directly boost enterprise performance. Existing processes may be duplicative, inefficient, slow and unreliable. BPM generates models for such processes and applies metrics and analysis to change them to achieve far better performance results. BPM does mean changing the way things are done, and this may meet resistance, even if the enterprise will perform better as a result. New processes can also benefit from BPM through automated rule management, simulation of likely outcomes, increased business leader involvement and a new level of agility. BPM brings attention to the highest-value processes — the ones that are most aligned with the business goals and strategy — for the best return on investment.

Consider These Factors to Determine Your Readiness

What BPM Means to CIOs

Improving business performance has long been a major CIO priority, given the key role that IT can play in such efforts. Because it represents a change to past practice, however, the cultural willingness to change is important. CIOs should ensure that the following conditions are in place before their organizations establish a BPM program:

  • A focus on improving business performance

  • A willingness to review established practices and change them

  • An acceptance of continuous change as the "new normal"

  • The ability to see beyond functions to the broader cross-departmental, customer outcome view

  • An acceptance of process modeling, analysis and refined performance metrics

What BPM Means to IT Leaders

A BPM program offers great potential advantages but requires a change to traditional IT approaches. IT leaders should see how they match up with the following readiness assessment:

  • An awareness that IT's traditional focus on "built to last" is being replaced by a process-enabled focus on "built to change"

  • A willingness to embrace new organizational constructs, such as the business process competency center

  • An acceptance that end-to-end processes span applications, systems, boundaries and organizations and must become the new focus of success

  • A willingness to let the business lead more of the project work, definitional framing, budgeting and delivery than it has in the past 1

  • The ability to transform traditional IT roles to embrace even stronger skills in change management, process methodologies and process skills such as simulation

Conduct Your BPM Initiative Using This Structured Approach

  • Strategize and Plan: Draft a charter to gain agreement on the vision for the initiative, in alignment with business goals. Scope the initiative, and establish resources and budget. Integrate with strategic IT and business plans.

  • Develop Governance: Establish an optimal process for making decisions and assigning decision rights. Identify and engage stakeholders. Agree on authority and flow for decision making. Implement and set up feedback mechanisms.

  • Drive Change Management: Set up a system to communicate and socialize ideas via multiple channels. Get buy-in from stakeholders at all levels. Assess progress, and drive stakeholder commitment to the change.

  • Execute: Optimally operate the initiative in accordance with business goals. Update and drive new elements of the initiative in response to changing business requirements.

  • Measure and Improve: Measure how the initiative has affected business outcomes. Seek feedback from stakeholders. Drive improvements through process changes and upgrades.


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