As I continue to monitor the activity in the BPM space, I see many new software vendors touting their new software applications as Business Process Management Suites (BPMS) where many times their offerings are just workflow automation tools. I am also seeing many existing software application providers incorrectly introducing new pieces to their applications as new "BPM" capabilities. All of these workflow applications provide the basics of a design environment where business processes can be conceptualized, but one of the key concepts to a BPMS is the ability to model processes before the processes are automated.
Today's business analyst has a plethora of software applications to conceptualize his/her company's business processes. As with any application today, careful and judicious decisions need to be made regarding which software applications are to be utilized. The following are just some of the specifics to pay mind to when choosing a process mapping application:
- Is the software application difficult to understand / hard to use without formal training?
- Does the software application provide just mapping functionality or does it also include vital modeling capabilities?
- Are you able to extract / export the data in the software application (i.e. reuse it easily in other applications?)
- Can you to import data from other applications?
- Does the software application adhere to the standards in the BPM space?
The above questions are more vital today than ever before in the BPM space. If the data and work you have invested in your existing modeling application cannot be ubiquitously applied to other modeling applications, then you run the risk of creating a "silo" of vital process data. If you choose to invest in another modeling application, you will be forced to spend the time and effort to recreate the business processes from scratch. Ideally, you want to invest in a business process modeling application where your work is being performed in an open architecture, industry standard format. Moreover, after you have taken the time to map out and conceptualize your company's business processes, a quality BPA application will include modeling capabilities (so that you can analyze and measure the efficiency of your existing business processes).
As a final point, not every process that merits mapping needs to be automated. But it is important for your company to at least map your processes so that they are documented and formalized. And rather than just stop at the conceptualization stage, you should invest in a mapping application that provides modeling capabilities. A quality BPA and/or BPMS product provides conceptualization and modeling functionality without requiring formal training in business analytics. If you do plan on automating your processes (once they are mapped out), again, you should invest in a modeling application that is a native extension of a BPMS to ensure the most rapid deployment time possible.
VP of Product Marketing and Management