I am fresh off the road from two consecutive weeks of international travel: 3 days in Latin America and 4 days in Europe. While the travel is hard, the rewards are great. Having the opportunity to hear firsthand how business process management is positively impacting customer operations is the ultimate feedback anyone can ask for (better than white papers, conference calls, emails, and blog posts).
I am thankful that Ultimus’ customers and partners are always gracious and hospitable when I visit them (especially the international customers who realize I am coming from a long distance). And while I love all of the stories where our BPM Suite provides mission critical value to their operations, I eventually ask them to quit being so nice and let’s start talking about challenges. Specifically, understanding the challenges, trials, and tribulations of BPM software provides arguably more value than receiving the “win situation” information. And frankly, no matter how great a software application is or how universal it may be, there are always challenges to overcome. No one software application is the universal solution for all needs.
Back in the mid to late 1990s, when workflow and BPM were new innovations, I regularly saw customers use Workflow and BPM Suites as the “backbone” to their entire IT stack. In this way, all other applications (database-driven applications, CRM, document management applications) were called upon as needed. For the customers with whom I recently spoke, I learned again what I already knew….today’s customer has greater needs than just process alone. In many cases, other applications outside of BPM provide more value in day-to-day, minute-by-minute business operations…and BPM is then called upon as needed. It is the responsibility of today’s BPM vendor to understand and respect this customer need. BPM Suites must be amorphous and fit into the “white space” of customer’s IT landscape. If it is the case that a CRM solution provides the ultimate value to a business (where the optimal value is provided back to the business’s own customers), then forcing a BPM solution to be the main software solution is the wrong approach. BPM Suites can provide great value to exceptional handling to other forefront software application. Moreover, by exception capturing, aggregating, and unifying exception information from numerous other systems, the importance of a BPM Suite in a company can be just as much as their main line systems.
If the only value a BPM vendor has to a customer is to be the “backbone” of their IT stack, then isn’t the “B” in BPM being overlooked?
VP Product and Technology