Even if they are not using a comprehensive business process management (BPM) enterprise suite through vendors such as Oracle and SAP, most organizations still use some form of a business process management system. Unfortunately, few companies realize the true potential of BPM and how it relates to the T&E processes.
Harnessing the power of BMP for travel can only be achieved by first identifying processes to optimize, then choosing the right TMC partner and finally, implementing an intelligent yet flexible BPM methodology that works for your business.
This article is intended to inform you about some of the common pitfalls that threaten travel initiatives and how a TMC can help you achieve success in your business travel processes. But first, what exactly is business process management?
What Is Business Process Management?
A business process (also called a workflow) is an activity or sequence of connected activities that may span across different people, roles or systems to accomplish a specific organizational goal. Search CIO defines BPM as “a systematic approach to making an organization's workflow more effective, more efficient and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment.” Well-run business processes align resources, technology and current structures to meet business goals, making BPM a critical component to a company’s overall success.
Many companies employ BPM programs in order to improve their operational performance so that they are more competitive in the marketplace. In terms of travel, BPM can be used to identify and modify existing business travel processes to align with a desired (and hopefully improved) set of business processes for future use. Simply put, it is about formalizing and instrumenting better ways to meet your organization’s business travel requirements.
How Can BPM Influence Travel Policy?
Through modeling, automation, execution, control and measurement of business travel activity, BPM can identify the phases of T&E that offer savings opportunities associated with time, money and resources. Improvement can occur over time (incrementally) or all at once (entirely new process). Either way, both can positively impact the business’ bottom line by replacing ineffective business processes with successful BPM workflows designed to reduce costs.
For example, during a BPM initiative called Operation Excellence for a multinational bank, head of the BPM Capabilities group said, "To see how much the company was spending on flights, we established KPIs and pulled data from all sorts of technologically disparate back-end systems. It was apparent that too many people were booking flights too close to the flying time. We needed to manage travel more carefully. We are improving the way we do business based on facts."
Uncovering valuable data through BPM and using supporting technologies (Business Process Management Solutions or BPMS) to improve strategic issues can benefit multiple areas within the business. BPMS can:
- Save time and money by automating manual processes
- Capture unrecovered revenue and monitor travel and expenses
- Deliver top-level customer service
- Collaborate on information and increase data visibility
How a TMC Improve your BPM?
As the global business environment continues to evolve, so do the needs of your business travelers. To remain competitive you need to have travel solutions in place that are cost effective, reliable and easily accessible. You also need travel solutions that offer transparency to identify areas that are high in non-compliance in order to improve program adoption rates.
A TMC can work with you to offer broader choices by using faster, more dependable technology and distribution – in ways today’s travelers want to access it, online and on the go. Here are some ways a TMC can enhance your business process management for T&E:
Uncover areas for improvement – BPM forces businesses to really think through and understand their current processes and how well they work. Often when processes are scrutinized in this manner, areas for improvement, such as the removal of certain steps, automation of manual steps, or partial or whole reengineering of the flow are discovered. Spotting and correcting areas that need improvement help save the company time and money. Here are 4 tactics for reviewing and updating your travel policy.
Streamline the flow of business processes – Because a business process is comprised of multiple tasks, often distributed among different departments, the less time required between each task helps create a more efficient process. One of the main benefits of BPM is that independent tasks can be performed concurrently with results merged and synchronized later in the workflow. A process outside the capabilities of automation, such as information shared through phone calls, emails, or inter-office dialog is bound to cause process degradation. Here are 3 tips to manage and streamline travel data.
Increase travel compliance – According to the whitepaper, Business Process Management: A Compliance Perspective, “compliance is, above all, about process.” They write that “Regulation lays out what an organization is supposed to do, policy describes what it plans to do, but processes are what it actually does. Policy matters, but at the end of the day, adherence to policy is both more important and more difficult to demonstrate.” Whether you are a government contractor that needs to adhere to federal travel regulations, or a multi-national that has various inter-company policies to follow, effective travel BPM can help you with your compliance challenges. Here are 13 reasons to encourage travel compliance.
An experienced TMC can help build BPM strategies surrounding travel policies to help you stay competitive in the marketplace. By introduction automation, eliminating waste, and cutting costs associated with non-performing business travel policies and procedures, you can gain control of your travel spend.
Find out more when you download the 5 Key Strategies for CFOs to Take Control of Travel and Expense Management.