Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Is Good For BPM

by MK Strupe on Fri, Mar 12, 2010 @ 03:16 PM
The stories about Microsoft SharePoint becoming a popular platform for document based workflow have been out there for many years now.  The fact that Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services being freeware has attracted many customers and partners to look twice at what SharePoint can offer.  From my perspective of the world, I see customers and partners utilizing SharePoint for:
  • Document Management and Content Management
  • Application Management / Portals
  • Information Collaboration
  • Document-based Workflow

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 improves in many ways in these areas, especially with a new graphical process modeller.  I recently saw a comment from Clay Richardson from Forrester on Twitter that even his 7 year old could use the new Microsoft SharePoint modeller.  Seeing comments like these are encouraging.  In my role overseeing and leading the product direction for Ultimus, the easier and user-friendly the "process" concept is the more gravity it will gain in the business space.

SharePoint does many things well from a document and workflow perspective.  If your company has the know-how and resources to leverage SharePoint, SharePoint Workflow, and Workflow Foundation, then easy and clear document-based workflows can be developed which will serve your company well.  Part of the success with any software platform, including Microsoft SharePoint, is to understand what the platform does do and what it does not do.  Every software platform has limitations which should be respected and recognized.  If not, the benefits and attractions of the software platform that you enjoy today may ultimately have a "corrosion" effect when you attempt to make the software perform in ways it is not intended (corrosion in terms of user attraction and application effectiveness).

BPM and SharePoint


Business Process Management is a natural extension of workflow, and thus, a natural extension for anyone who has already invested in Microsoft SharePoint.  While there is a definite value proposition in automating your document based processes, moving away from manual and paper based work styles, and evolving human based operations into web-based activities, at some point, you will ask yourself "Do my processes make sense?"  Once you reach the point where you need to understand if your company is working smart, and not just hard, then you will want to consider BPM.

Every good BPM Suite in the market today integrates with Microsoft SharePoint.  Being able to leverage SharePoint workflows, documents in repositories, and information from SharePoint Team Sites in a BPMS will allow all of your already invested information to be taken to the next level.  BPM Suites provides the tools and features to give you answers to questions like:

  • How will by processes and process participant workloads trend over the long term?
  • Do I need to invest in more resources (or less resources) to ensure processes execute efficiently?
  • If I want to double my output, what additions and changes will I need to make to my processes?

It is true that all good BPM Suites provide the ability to execute both workflow and BPM, and it is not necessary to always invest in both Microsoft SharePoint and a BPMS if you are need to workflow and BPM.  But if you are already utilizing Microsoft SharePoint for document management and enterprise content management, then BPM is something you will eventually want to consider.  If you find yourself currently asking if you need Microsoft SharePoint OR a BPMS, you should take an inventory of what your process and workflow needs are.  From there, make sure you use the right tool for the right job. 


Relevant Links:

Chris Adams Responds to: SharePoint, BPM and Document Imaging Article

Avoid Investing in Workflow in Non-Workflow Applications

Don't Stop Short With Workflow... Go To The Next Level With BPM


Chris Adams
VP Product and Technology

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This post was written by MK Strupe