Business Process Management vs. Business Process Analysis?

Feb 6, 2015
Written by
Peter Matthijssen
Peter Matthijssen

Business Process Management vs. Business Process Analysis?

Business Process Management is old school; Business Analysis is the new hype”. Huh…? With all terminology and current trends, it is easy to get confused. If you ask five different people to clear things up, you will probably get five different explanations. It is all about definitions. In this blog I will distinguish Business Analysis from Business Process Management.

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What does Wikipedia say about Business Analysis and Business Process Management?

Business Analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development.”

Business Process Management is a holistic management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. Business process management attempts to improve processes continuously.”

Both Business Analysis and Business Process Management are aimed at optimizing performances

If we look at the definitions, we see that both Business Analysis and Business Process Management are aimed at optimizing performances. Where Business Analysis has a (usual) strong IT focus, Business Process Management has a broader scope. Business Process Management focuses on end-to-end process performance. There is nothing ‘old school’ about end-to-end process performance. Organizations face challenges in both improving processes and optimizing the IT support. Business Process Management and Business Analysis should strengthen instead of replace each other.

Business Process Management design and implementation

But why is it that Business Analysis is sometimes pushing Business Process Management to the background? In my opinion it is all about legacy. Business Process Management, as a practice, is a little ‘older’ than Business Analysis. With its ‘age’ there might be more success stories, but also there are plenty of Business Process Management fiascos. In the past we have seen many instrumental Business Process Management implementations: Business Process Management Suites were bought as solutions to problems, often leading to disappointing results. We now know that only describing our processes does not automatically improve process performances. Business Process Management should be, as the Wikipedia definition explains, about real continuous process improvement. Business Analysis is not yet infected by the failures of Business Process Management. This is why many people share the opinion that Business Analysis is more business oriented, whereas Business Process Management is more execution focused… It is tempting to use the term of Business Analysis instead of Business Process Management, while trying to do the same thing: improving process performance.

Business Process Management changed its name to Business Analysis

If I look at Business Analysis presentations, tools and approaches, I fortunately have a strong ‘déjà vu’ feeling. Many Business Process Management instruments are presented as Business Analysis instruments. So Business Process Management hasn’t disappeared, it only changed its name. Business Process Management is a very powerful means, aimed at end-to-end process performance and customer quality. These are essential topics for every organization; they should all be involved with Business Process Management. But if they like to call it something different, like Business Analysis, this is OK with me. At BiZZdesign we stick to Business Process Management as the main practice, from where the Business Analysis services are delivered.

Good luck with Business Process Management and Business Analysis in your organization!