MBA Programs: What Is Business Process Management?

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There is a pressing need for organizations large and small to become more agile to address the changing preferences of their customers and the market. In response, organizations are undergoing a digital transformation, which is revealing new opportunities for skilled leaders with knowledge of business process management.

What is business process management (BPM)? It’s a discipline that enables businesses to measure performance, improve efficiencies, and uncover opportunities for cost savings. This is achieved through various methods, including analysis of existing processes, development of models for process optimization, and alignment of business functions.

But disruption is everywhere, impacting every business. And in an age where artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the internet of things (IoT), and other trends are changing how businesses operate and make profits, organizations are turning to business process management to do more — to connect and align employees, systems, data, and customers with mission-critical business processes.

Business executives analyze user interface


Trends in Business Process Automation

What is business process management? Is it technology? Indeed, technology is useful in this practice, enabling managers to better support business strategies. But technology is not always a requirement to achieve key aims, such as improved profitability. Is business process management an approach? Traditionally, professionals in this practice, such as management analysts and management consultants, have used methods of discovery, modeling, and analysis to develop repeatable, structured processes that reduce costs and maximize efficiencies. So, the answer to the question, “What is business process management?” is that it is both a technology and a management approach.

What is business process management in the age of digital transformation? Organizations are often focused on improving operational processes, but there is more to business process management. For effective coordination of systems, data, people, and increasingly, devices powered by the IoT and AI, organizations must expand their BPM efforts to support other strategic aims. And as regards technology, organizations must consider the needs of other functions.

These trends in business process automation (BPA) are creating new opportunities for business process improvement. Organizations seeking to remain competitive in the age of digital transformation risk losing out on the benefits of BPA without a proper understanding of these trends. And organizations will miss out on strategic opportunities unless they evolve their efforts in business process management to address key trends, according to Forrester.

Trend 1: Customer-Facing Processes

A key trend and an important driver of business process management today is customer-facing processes. Take value-oriented process modeling, for instance, which established organizations have traditionally used to optimize business process workflows in their organizational structures. Digital transformation is changing the old ways of modeling and expanding business process management beyond the walls of the organization. In an age of agile startups and global markets, new approaches to business process management will include a focus on creating customer value. According to The Complete Business Process Handbook: Body of Knowledge from Process Modeling to BPM, top leaders must be able to “analyze and guide the design of the business focusing on customer value, consolidating sharable capabilities, and linking business strategy to business transformation through a shared understanding of the desired business design and key objectives.”

Trend 2: Intelligent Process Automation

A 2017 survey from PwC reported that 30% of businesses predict AI will be the biggest disruptor in their industries over five years. Already, ML and AI are creating value by improving customer service, automating finance, and ensuring smoother supply chains. An advantage of ML in business process management is that it can provide businesses with digital intelligence to make their business processes more agile and efficient through intelligent process automation. As more businesses seek to improve decision-making, refine business models, and transform customer experiences, technology vendors will jostle for top market positions as they build smart, autonomous AI-powered business process management systems. Robotics will also play a key role in transforming business process management by automating repetitive processes typically performed by humans, which will free up time for employees to work on higher-level priorities. Robotic process automation (RPA), an advanced form of intelligent process automation, is the application of software to leverage business rules and automate repetitive tasks, such as data extraction and report creation, without any human intervention.

Trend 3: Chief Process Officer

The role of chief process officer (CPO) is emerging as the top executive role driving business process improvement. The CPO, who reports to the CEO, works with other executives, such as the chief marketing officer or chief operating officer, to define strategies and drive cross-functional alignment. CPOs have a strategic business background and leverage their knowledge of technology and trends in business process management to develop systems that generate the most value. The role of CPO is difficult to find. The reason is that at the highest levels, CEOs and chief information officers are typically leading digital transformation initiatives. At the management level, it is common to see people with titles like a business architect or VP of process improvement leading the charge for digital transformation.

Become a Leader Who Makes a Difference

The business world is growing ever more complex thanks to digital transformation. As a result, there is an increasing demand for leaders with knowledge of business processes management to help businesses become more agile and efficient in a fast-changing digital global marketplace.

Businesses ill-prepared to meet the challenges head-on risk losing ground in their industries at best — becoming extinct at worst. This is the reason that businesses seek leaders who can develop effective strategies and solve problems posed by global market changes. Businesses are eager to find talent that is process-driven and can lead them down the path of digital transformation.

An online Master of Business Administration (MBA) can round out your knowledge of business concepts and technology and sharpen the skills necessary for informed decision-making in business process management. Students in pursuit of leadership opportunities in business process management will face increasing competition, fueled by globalization and digitization of business operations. But many students find the pursuit of an MBA. worth the effort as projections indicate future growth for leaders who can improve efficiency and control costs. For example, growth for management analysts is projected to be 14% from 2016 to 2026, which exceeds the average growth for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the highest levels, business process consultants may move up to become VPs of operations and earn an average annual salary of $124,000, according to PayScale.

Learn More

The online Master of Business Administration program at Ohio University teaches the skills that are critical for transformative business leaders wanting to make a difference in the world. As part of the core curriculum for the program, students learn data analysis, operations management, and strategic leadership. Organizations are looking to hire leaders in business process management with these and other critical skills. Learn more about how Ohio University can help prepare you for a potential career as a leader and secure your future in the business world.

Recommended Reading

Ohio University Blog, “A Look at MBA-Related Programs: What Is Business Management?”
Ohio University Blog, “MBA Careers at a Glance: What Is Corporate Finance?”
Ohio University Blog, “Choosing an Economics Degree Career Path”


CIO, “What Is Business Process Management? The Key to Enterprise Agility”
CIO, “Why BPM Is Now Taking a Central Role in Digital Transformation”
Forrester, “Calibrate Your BPM Center of Excellence to Serve Digital Business Priorities”
Forrester, “Calling All Chief Process Officers!
Harvard Business Review, “8 Ways Machine Learning Is Improving Companies’ Work Processes”
McKinsey, “Introducing the Next-Generation Operating Model, PDF”
PayScale, Average Business Process / Management Consultant Salary
Process Excellence Network, “BPM 2018: Top 10 BPM Industry Trends This Year”
PwC, “2017 Global Digital IQ Survey: A Decade of Digital—Keeping Page with Transformation”
ResearchGate, “Business Process Trends
RTInsights, “How Digital Business Process Management Transforms the Enterprise
TechTarget, Business Process Management
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Analysts