SAP, at a very high level, consists of enterprise applications which began as a means for interacting with customers and employees through various types of business systems in order to complete necessary operational functions. SAP applications use a common corporate database to provide the ability for businesses to manage their:
- Finance and accounting initiatives
- Daily operations
- Supply chain and production materials
- Human resources
- Plants and Facilities
At this point, you may ask yourself- If SAP can provide my company with a single corporate database that spans and services all of my functional business areas, then why would I need BPM Software? Additionally, since many enterprise applications, like SAP, have started incorporating a process management capability as a core function, their customers are naturally inclined to assume that the enterprise application can handle their BPM requirements. However, this mentality quickly becomes problematic when your efforts are no long fulfilled by SAP.
The best example and understanding of the need for SAP and BPM integration is reflected by the hierarchy of transportation. Some modes of transportation, such as airplanes and trains, are fast, efficient, mass transits of goods or people from point A to point B. However, an airplane or a train will not take you directly to your house. Rather, you need a second mode of transportation that is more flexible, personal, agile, and less costly, such as a car. Organizations use both modes of transportation depending on their need. Thus, one type of system cannot be used economically to handle all possible requirements.
BPM provides the means of extending and supporting deployments of SAP and other enterprise applications. BPM, therefore, fills in the gaps between enterprise applications by complementing their functionality and enabling processes that extend outside each application and extends to employees, customers, and partners. In this role, Ultimus Adaptive BPM Suite leverages four key capabilities:
- Shortest-time-to-value for deploying BPM processes through rapid automation
- Enabling rapid adaptation of processes to change, exceptions, human factors and need for collaboration in knowledge worker processes.
- Facilitating rapid integration with SAP and other enterprise applications
- Seamlessly extending business processes to the information worker desktops through tight integration with Microsoft Office, e-mail and portals.
Enterprise applications like SAP provide significant business value and perform critical functions inside an organization. However, they cannot be expected to do everything, just like a multi-million dollar modern airplane cannot be expected to drop you off at your home like a car. Organizations must plan to have multiple business process systems to handle the various types of processes that they have to manage and improve.
Mary Katherine Strupe