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How did BPM evolve?

What does "BPM" stand for anyway? Depending on who you talk to, BPM may be considered to be "Business Performance Measurement" or "Business Process Modelling". However, BPM is increasingly recognised as "Business Process Management".

Back in the mid Eighties, Six Sigma was prevalent in the corporate world along with Total Quality Management (TQM). This was followed in the early Nineties by Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), workflow management and the establishment and recognition of the ISO9000 quality standard. In the Nineties Business Process Improvement (BPI) became the new business management strategy.

In parallel with these developments, IT was also evolving from Relational Databases (1980's), to Enterprise Relational Databases (ERD) (early 1990's) and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) (late 1990's).

It is this convergence of business processes with IT that have led to what is now generically known as Business Process Management. But is also important to recognise that BPM does not always rely on IT to be effective - it is much more important for good business processes to be established before IT is added to them. After all, applying an IT system to inefficient processes just makes those processes run faster.

Recently on his blog, Dennis Byron raised the question of "Who first used the term 'Business Process Management?'"

While maybe not a definitive answer, the first issue of Business Process Management Journal was published in 1995. However, it wasn't until 2002 that the emphasis within this journal started to shift from Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) to Business Process Management (BPM). 2002 also saw the publication of "Business Process Management - The Third Wave", by Smith and Fingar, published by Meghan-Kiffer Press.

BPM is increasingly recognised as focussing on effective management practices for managing and improving essential business processes that are aligned with strategic objectives.

It is not just about software and it is not just about re-engineering processes. It is definitely about a top-down management approach to ensuring the effectiveness of essential business processes. BPM combines management responsibility, process management and support systems.

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