DMS or BMS? A world of difference!

11 June 2019 posted by Arno Schilders Business model Organize horizontally

Do you have a Document Management System (DMS) or a Business Management System (BMS)? And do you also know the difference between them? Well, I can tell you that in practice that difference is very large. In this blog I explain the differences and what it can mean for your organization.


I have come across quite a few management systems in practice and I am sometimes surprised how limited some systems are. Recently we were at a trade fair and I heard a software supplier say that a large customer had 720 processes and that they wanted to put them in a system. Of course that was possible with their system, the consultant said, and they could take over all those processes without further ado and even add 'meta data' and 'document management' to it. In practice, it meant that they just load all Word and Excel documents from that company into their system, then added owners, keywords and version control and were done ... (that's a 'Document Management System'). I looked at their Windows folder-like interface and was totally amazed at their approach and the result. 


'What do you get when you automate chaos?
An automated chaos of course!'


I asked if they had not asked that customer why they had no fewer than 720 different processes? In my 25 years as a consultant I have never (!) seen a customer who needed so many processes! Maybe instructions but that's a different level of documentation as far as I'm concerned. He indicated that they were not about that and if the customer wanted that then that was possible ... Then I knew enough and also where we make a difference in our approach. We keep asking questions and understand what a customer needs, and that is not always what he asks.


'You have to offer a customer what he needs and that is not always what he asks for.'


A typical characteristic of a Business Management System is that it reflects all core processes of an organization, including their mutual relationship. In addition to the primary processes, also think of the management, support and improvement processes. In practice, I come to a very large diversity of organizations with no more than 25 to 50 processes to completely describe their business. In the latter case I am already talking about a chemical plant with its own maintenance department that already consists of several processes.


Such a Business Management System (BMS) can perfectly comply with all laws, regulations and standards such as ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environment) and ISO 45001 (safety). Depending on the type of organization and the level of education, these processes may of course still have the necessary work instructions attached.


'The higher the education level, the fewer instructions are required and the greater the risks, the more will be laid down in instructions and (safety) protocols.' 


The proverb 'Think before you leap' is therefore very appropriate here. Before you 'just' transfer all 'as is' documents you have into a system, you first consider which processes you really need to realize what your business.
These core processes form the total Business Model of the organization and can be elaborated and visualized on one page.


In my opinion, you 'need' to sit down with the management team and determine with them what that Business Model looks like (hence the term BMS). The resulting picture forms the basis of an inspiring way to organize these processes together as smartly as possible. It provides access to the corporate philosophy and should be the first thing employees see when they view the management system.


Also ask management which processes should be addressed first in order to improve and why. With these frameworks you give priority to what is really important and you give the working groups that are going to get started with this direction on their assignment without telling them how to do it.


'A management system is never a goal in itself,
just a means to an end!'


Would you like to know more about developing a practical and process-oriented management system that is actually supported and that helps to achieve business objectives?


Please contact me via or call me directly on +31(0)6-51428482.


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