Let’s discuss some few factors that are important when selecting a BPM software vendor and an eventual implementation partner.
The most important factor in selecting a software partner, and for that matter, an implementation partner, is understanding your requirements and your organizational readiness. “To thine own self-be true.” If you or your organization aren’t equipped to tackle a multi-disciplinary, multi-system, enterprise-wide workflow; why buy the IBM platform? It will be costly, and the complexity will not justify automating the simple workflows you need to be done.
What this means is whether the tool is meant to automate complex, enterprise-wide systems or is it intended to quickly automate the everyday processes. NO TOOL DOES BOTH WELL. I have been in the BPM industry for 20 years, and I have never seen a tool that does both really well. The tools that are easy to use, scale up to a point. But you will reach limitations quickly. The Cadillac’s of the industry is great at standardizing large, complex multi-task, multi-departmental workflows, but they forget about and are not good for, the small everyday task.
What we are looking for here is ease of use and who designs the process flows. If it is a large BPM platform, many of the workflows will be a technical user. Many of the workflow automation tools use a BA to design the workflows. Naturally, the more you can use a BA to do the work, the more you can automate quickly.
Does the BPM tool provide insight and best practices in specific processes? For example, AP is probably the most common function of automation. Does the tool provide insight into the AP process and have workflow samples and templates? How does the tool help enforce standards and best practices? In general, the more complex the process, the more the tools will provide guidance and insight into the process.
Similar to the process insight, what accelerators does the tool possess. Does it have industry templates? Are there application accelerators? A good example might be a mortgage underwriting process. Are there application accelerators for HR requests? One of my pet peeves is a BPM tool that does not have sample departmental service catalogs. How can you be a BPM vendor and not have taken the time to develop a departmental accelerator?
Typically, the better the tool, the better Business Rules Engine (BRE) that have embedded. BREs will provide you capabilities far greater than a normal workflow product will. But they are typically for more complex processes, therefore they are not good for the everyday workflow. Tools with great BRE engines are usually costly and require expertise to use correctly.
This is the weakest are for most tools. How does the reporting piece help identify continuous improvement initiatives? Is there a continuous feedback loop? How does it handle exceptions and rules-based reporting? Does the reporting tell you more than how many transactions were processed, how many failed, and what the average processing time was? Does it go to the level of true BPM reporting?
Unfortunately, most vendors who implement BPM products are IT at their core, not business oriented. But the projects I have seen succeed where driven by implementation partners who came from a business perspective and learned IT.
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