There is an interesting discussion going on in the LinkedIn BPM Group right now. Business Analyst Philip Charbonneau posed the question:
“What do you think is the best BPM software on the market?”
Even though Philip specifically mentions BPM, the conversation can be applied to ECM, Document Management, ACM, or really any new business technology, so it is a good question to cover.
From the initial outset it becomes clear that his natural assumption is that the best choice is the one he is most familiar with. This is a common fallacy in thinking. We choose the solution that we are most comfortable with it, because we are the most comfortable with it. It seems like the best choice because really, it’s the only one we know. This also happens a lot with SharePoint; people are familiar with Microsoft so that is what they choose. Familiarity does not equate to being the best choice, however.
The discussion begins with a Research Director & Advisor who explains:
|Hi Philip, you mention Oracle BPM Studio – so does that mean you’re primarily interested in modeling, or are you also looking to create process applications from the models you create? Either way, the unfortunate answer is really ‘it depends‘ – on your technology environment, the skills you have in-house and the way your organisation is set up, the scope of your ambition, your budget, and many more things besides.|
Another commentor joins the conversation:
|Mostly it depends on the focus of the operations area and the functional requirements. BPM solutions like Oracles BPM Studio are best for industrial areas. But if you are looking for a BPM solution well suited for a small or medium company, BPM solutions like Oracles BPM Studio may not be the best one… If you want to see whether a BPM solution is well suited for you, you must define a process from your operations area and map it in a BPM solution. Then you can see whether the system is well suited for your needs.|
Theo Priestley quickly chimes in with a great point as well:
|Ford make cars but if they decided on branching out to yacht building it doesn’t automatically preclude they’ll be any good.
The question is really open ended, you’ve not really given an indication of what you require from the software and just what the audience and user base is to be, and how mature their approach to process and BPM. If you say you don’t know a lot about BPM then something like Oracle is going to be way above capability.
Philip comes in again, introducing another common barrier to BPMS implementations: Change Management…
One “self proclaimed BPM guru” gives his perspective:
|I hope your goal will be to really manage your organization by process. So really using the processes to make them deliver what they promise.
Do you have an overview of your real and useful processes
IMHO these are some essential questions when starting with BPM. And the good thing; the only tool you need for this is Common Sense.
Talking about Common Sense. Why do you think documenting your processes (not the same as insight in a processes) will help you?
Be aware that the core of BPM is executing your processes, not modelling them.
Agree with others here that buying a tool must not be your goal. More grip on your processes is your goal. And I know companies who are doing excellent BPM with Excel and some whiteboards.
And about culture…forget about the people, you can forget BPM.
Theo comes back in to explain:
|Take your foot off the accelerator and learn to use the clutch first.
You’re on a collision course with the wall known as Failed BPM Project.
1) Assess your BPM capability and maturity within the organisation. I suspect you are nowhere near the ability required to fully leverage a full blown BPMS so step away from the cheque book. The first steps is understanding just who is interested in process and start the ball rolling there, the more support there is the easier the buy in.
2) It’s probably proving a huge cultural shift because you’re trying to force the change of thinking en masse. Start small and plan the road ahead. Education is paramount here. You bring the organisation along with you on the journey, not just tell them to do things because you read it on LinkedIn. Win the hearts and minds of the people.
3) I see a horrible pattern of ‘Oracle is great because we have Seibel’. Stop that.
4) Again, cultural shift, little process maturity. So why even bother with BPMN notation when it appears people don’t understand a simple process flow itself.
5) [The “BPM Guru”] makes some great points. I’ll counter two of them however in that you need to document process in order to understand it. Having the current state will always lead to the target state and opportunities for improvement or radical change. However it doesn’t mean you spend the next 5 years plugging away at diagramming to fill up a giant repository.
Similarly, the core of BPM’S’ is execution, the core of BPM isn’t (semantic pedantic yeah yeah)
Philip, you don’t need BPMS right now. You’ll deliver no benefit, it will cost a fortune, will fail and you’ll have that on your CV. What you do need is the roadmap to be able to derive benefit from such an implementation. And that starts with mindset, not machine.
So, sometimes no BPMS is the best BPMS.
But that still doesn’t answer Phillip’s original question: What is the best BPM software on the market?
The long and short?
There is no right answer. It depends on the organization, it’s needs, it’s goals, it’s processes.
Different BPM software (or ECM, EDM, ACM, etc) is going to fill different needs. You have to start with your business first, and the technology second.
As Steve Weissman states in a recent interview:
|“For me, so many of these conversations start with the technology. We tend to chunk the world up into BPM and ECM and ERM and all kinds of other M’s, but for me, that’s sort of backwards because it really has to start with the business need… start with an understanding of what the business problem is that you’re trying to solve and then mapping the technology tools into that from there.”|
In a different discussion on the subject, Janne Ohtonen puts it best when he simply says, “the best BPM software is the one that enables you to do whatever you need to get done in your process endeavors.”
What advice do you have to determine the “best software”?
Let us know in the comments!