Is BPM synonymous to Kaizen?
by Garima Rai
Masaaki Imai introduced the Kaizen method for continuous incremental improvements to the corporate world, through his book, 'Kaizen: The key to Japan's success', in 1986. The concept spread across industries like fire and became a fad the world over. The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen is about constant continual improvement at low cost, involving everyone at all levels in the organizational structure, and applying much common sense.
Assuming that every aspect of our life should be driven by constant improvement, Kaizen aims at elimination of waste (activities for which the input - output ratio is extremely low). It often refers to rearranging processes in a better and less complex workflow. The next step is standardization of this better process. The cycle of Kaizen activity also known as Shewhart cycle or Deming cycle has the following four steps that are repeated ad infinitum:
2.Measure the standardized operation
3.Gauge measurements against requirements
4.Innovate to meet requirements
Manual coordination of activities in organizations leads to inefficiency and errors in the operational process and often obstructs process improvement itself. Business Process Management (BPM) was recognized by the academic world in the fifties and sixties as an effective tool for managing quality. Later, Hammer & Champy (1993) defined a process (business process) as "a collection of activities that takes one or more kinds of input and creates an output that is of value to the customer." With their definition they highlighed the benefits of process management, process (re-) engineering, and workflow management to business managers. BPM leads to a continuous cycle of process improvement. Ideally it aims at saving money, saving time, improving compliance and adding value to an organizations workflow. The BPM lifecycle involves the following major steps:
1.Model -- preparing a flowchart of the various steps in the process
2.Develop -- defining the process and integrating the existing technology
3.Deploy and monitor -- put to action and collect statistics to quantify improvements
4.Analyze and improve -- identify bottlenecks and make changes to do away with them
Today, BPM in its capacity as a continually evolving set of technologies, to establish goals and strategies for the improvement of operational processes that impact on an organization's performance, to some extent is Kaizen.
Garima is working as a Creative Content Writer (Sr. Executive Products & Solution) with Newgen Software Technologies Limited, a leading provider of BPM and ECM solutions.
Garima Rai may be contacted at or email@example.com