Business Process Management and ISO are typically addressed as two different endeavors, but they can be brought in alignment to improve the quality of businesses. A wide range of systems, including BPM and ISO, have been introduced in the past decades and have been explored and tried by organizations all over the world to attain best business practices. A company that is process-oriented and ISO-certified benefits when there is an alignment of BPM with the ISO standards. What are the benefits and challenges when doing so? How can this objective be accomplished? Let’s investigate these questions.
Basically, ISO focuses on documentation and uses this activity to confirm maturity of processes. Though this approach may be highly beneficial, there is also a risk that a company could get so attached to the ISO certification process that the big organizational picture is lost. An ISO-targeted focus can lead to a tendency of concentrating on static and physical evidences rather than dynamic facts that performance metrics could provide, along with what can be done to improve these metrics.
In BPM, the focus is on the dynamic factors in an organization — not on standing documents, but on more active flows. For instance, there are areas which are impossible to express through inactive documentation such as cultural aspects, universal practices and organization values.
An objective of ISO standards is to create an effort for process documentation so that the organization is more systematic. Although the process of documentation is commendable, it should not stand alone without integrating the system with BPM. This is a struggle that many companies have to face when addressing ISO certification audits.
As a remedy, organizations can also employ BPM, which is more holistic in terms of approach to achieve process maturity. This effort should involve establishing appropriate metrics, core processes, as well as other tasks such as roles, behaviors and relationships.
Quality Management System
ISO certification is highly beneficial if a company is trying to become a supplier to one or several clients that values this achievement. The frameworks and concepts are in alignment with quality management. But then, it must be noted that ISO is not comprehensive on its own. Again, ISO deployments can rely so much on documentation that a holistic approach may be forgotten.
Many companies see ISO as a perfect means of achieving brand differentiation. Yet the drawback is that the customers will still need to realize the true difference in provided products and services to be able to generate sales. Otherwise the outcome could be customer defection or pessimism, especially when the company highlights its certification in its sales process.
Unlike with ISO, a BPM deployment should incorporate an adaptive-based systematic approach; i.e., more than simple documentation. Organizations that rely heavily on BPM should try to reduce variation and waste using techniques such as Lean Six Sigma. The principle is simple: when adequate time and effort is given in developing procedures and defining control, all efforts to sustain processes without the consideration of dynamic requirements can lead to disappointing results. The end result is that organizations using a more holistic approach can give attention into the achievement of major improvements while at the same time continuously watching over the business and the surrounding environment.
ISO or BPM?
It is vital to recognize that documentation is not the sole method for process understanding. Learning can be achieved via training, tool structures, as well as providing a control mechanism for people who are actively involved in the process. Many companies often depend greatly on process documentation. The disadvantage of this alone is that much time and resources can be spent for this effort without doing much relative to performance improvement.
Having too much control without a system for performance enhancement minimizes the company’s benefit. Thus, it is best to incorporate wisely-applied BPM principles with ISO standards. This simply implies integrating training, metrics and skilled process users who are capable of delivering the desired business outcomes.
ISO certification alone can be desirable for a company if it has a new and considerable client base that needs a specific type of certification. Even so, the company should assess how it will be more beneficial to go on a highly holistic approach to enhance performance and defining processes prior to engaging in total documentation programs. The process of documentation is resource and time consuming. At times, this could also disrupt the business.
The approaches being utilized in BPM are not comprehensive either. But they can cover more than the ISO standards. What is needed is to achieve the right balance between the two — detailed documentation of processes and a more systematic and holistic view of the company and its processes. The greatest advice to any organization who would like to pursue ISO is to make sure that their resources are protected and used for improvement. Along with this is the thought of creating BPM processes that are more fluid and comprehensive.
Remember that organizations are living entities — they undergo constant change at some point in time. The best way to handle this is to give focus on wisely-created metrics that measure performance. Doing this will help every company better see the bigger organizational picture.
Structurally Integrating BPM and ISO
The Integrated Enterprise Excellence (IEE) system provides a nine-step methodology for structurally integrating BPM and ISO. Over 300 free articles, recorded webinars, and videos are available about the IEE system, predictive performance reporting, Lean Six Sigma techniques, and how to execute improvement efforts so that the enterprise as a whole benefits.
Many organizations, universities, and professional societies are providing linkage on their website to the link above so that others can readily access this information and guidance.