BPM is no longer a buzzword. Companies have realized that BPM has become a core discipline for business success. BPM has broadened its horizon from a traditional workflow routing engine way back in 2000, to additional capabilities of Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Application Integration, Document Management, Business Rule Engine, etc., all of which are combined into a full-fledged BPM Suite of tools. Due to the lucrative BPM market, there is a plethora of BPMS product vendors that provide, or at least claim to provide, end-to-end services that include managing and orchestrating the processes and rules that drive business. However, the tools are not yet that mature and have profound differences in the way they handle process design, rule authoring, process simulation, process analytics and integration with external systems. So how does a company enthusiastic about implementing a BPM solution choose the right platform? A lot of companies just go to Gartner Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave and look at the top corner, find two or three vendors and go with the decision. This is usually not the right approach.
BPMS tools have to be assessed on their capabilities as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Much of the decision depends on business expectations and drivers. For example, businesses could operate in a very dynamic environment that requires the ability to quickly change and deploy businesses. Or businesses such as manufacturing, could have processes requiring interaction with multiple disparate suppliers, payroll and HR systems, that would require a strong integration capability in the tool.
To improve the decision making process, businesses should carefully evaluate and measure the capabilities of the BPM tool against the following parameters:
- Product Strategy and Leadership – How has the product evolved over the years? What is the BPM Strategy, product release cycle and the future enhancements currently planned for the product? What are the various product support levels offered by the product company?
- Product Architecture – How robust is the product’s architecture in terms of performance, reliability and scalability? What OS and Database platforms does it support? Is the product generally available in a web based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) configuration? Does the SaaS version support multi-tenancy?
- Process Modeling and Collaborative Design – How well does the product support all aspects of process discovery – including modeling, simulation and requirement capture?
- Business Rules Engine – What are the abilities of tool to define and manage business rules? Does the product provide rule repository that can be reused across business process models?
- Process Development and Composition – What tools and features are provided to allow creation and execution of an automated business process? What is the design-time and run-time performance of the tool?
- Workflow and Routing Characteristics – Does the product have built-in capabilities to support work scheduling, work prioritization, intelligent work routing and exception handling?
- User Experience Development – What are the capabilities of tools to create rich user experience and multi-channel support?
- Process Intelligence and Social Interaction – Is the product’s strategy aligned to the changing expectations from the customer? How well does the product support social collaboration between the process participants?
- Reporting and Analysis Functions – Does the product provide tools for monitoring work, productivity and business intelligence? Are the reports customizable for different levels of users and roles?
- Integration Capabilities – How well does the product handle integration with external and third party applications and systems?
The above parameters are indicative and not comprehensive. The analysis needs to be carried in view of your enterprise BPM roadmap and IT strategy. It is advisable to create a weighed matrix and score the various tools in the market on the parameters. The weight of each parameter would depend on the importance given by your enterprise.
A poor BPM tool selection could hinder the BPM evolution process in an enterprise. To ensure business success, organizations will have to focus on adopting a structured methodology to evaluate vendors alongside building a strong BPM business case that is supported by an analysis on Return on Investment.