Choosing a BPM Provider
An article by Shyamal Addanki, Director NA
With so many vendors in the BPM and workflow space, it can seem like a daunting task to preselect a few to evaluate. There are, of course, industry reviews and reports that dissect and rank various vendors, but often these publications do not cover all technologies in a given space. Web searches will similarly restrict you to a few which fare well on page-ranking algorithms.
A good way to begin is to understand the segmentation of the BPM and workflow space. I put BPM and workflow together because sometimes companies buy in to a BPM solution solely for the workflow capabilities.
Types of BPM
Broadly, you can divide BPM into user-focused BPM and system-focused BPM. Is your strategy to have an IT-focused system-integration tool, or is your strategy to have business users manage business processes? You can get to the same result both ways, but the question comes down to how complex the implementation and scaling is going to be.
The traditional idea of BPM, which still lingers with some of the more established vendors in this space, is the IT-focused system-integration BPM. In this model, business processes are akin to a specification document to interconnect the organization’s back-end systems. These are, generally speaking, complex developments with heavy implementation and complex change management. IT usually leads and manages these projects with a dedicated team, and the result is a robust, fully-connected back-end system.
The second type of BPM, which developed with the concept of Agile and Lean, is to break-up the idea of a complex system-integration BPM into easy-to-use business processes, and hand these over to the business units themselves. Since the business units are the experts in their own processes, IT only gets involved to connect the BPM server and the back-end systems. To be able to empower the business units in such a way, the technology must be user-friendly and require very little or no coding. This type of BPM is easier to implement, because it can be done in stages across the organization, easy to scale, and easy to manage changes.
FireStart: User-Focused BPM
FireStart is firmly the second type of BPM, strongly focused on the business-user, no-code, and rapid deployment. The application interface has the Microsoft look-and-feel one would expect from a Microsoft Gold partner, and tasks can even be managed directly in email with a plugin for Microsoft Outlook. Building process diagrams is very intuitive, yet very powerful – a user can build a flowchart, and assign roles to various tasks, and then FireStart can generate a swimlane-categorized flow using BPMN 2.0 notation. Process governance is baked right in; process changes are versioned and go through an approval step, and FireStart keeps a full version history and even provides a detailed comparison of different versions. This puts the power of BPM in the hands of the business process experts.
Efficient Implementation of BPM
Because implementing BPM should be efficient, too.