In the final blog in this series, our process experts review what BPMS offers you.
Part three of a series.
A Business Process Management Solution (BPMS) brings technology into the BPM equation by providing a platform to model, manage, optimize, and rapidly adjust business processes.
These technology solutions are toolkits for solving multiple process-related issues through automation, collaboration and visibility.
When examining the different BPMS options in the marketplace, it is important to understand the different features of these tools in order to ensure that you select the proper tool for your business.
Core components of each BPMS include:
- Process Repository – Provides a central location to store, categorize and access processes, sub-processes and related artifacts (e.g., services, dashboards, controls/widgets). All processes within the repository are defined by a process diagram representing the human and system activities.
- Workflow Engine – Allocates tasks to different process participants by communicating data amongst these participants. In general, a workflow engine can execute any arbitrary sequence of steps or activities based on the process flow and related routing rules.
- System Integrations – Links or integrates data from other computing systems, software applications and databases into the process (typically through services).
- Process Metrics – Gathers process performance data (e.g. resource cycle times, task queue times, overdue process tasks) and offers basic reporting components related to this data.
A BPM Solution is typically a component of a broader end-to-end process and user solution. Given that these solutions are intended to link human interactions together, a BPMS depends on a presentation layer in order to ensure adoption.
Typical components of this layer include:
- Human Interfaces (End-User Portal) – Offers a “process-centric” space where interaction between human workers and the process/back-end data and systems occurs. Typically, a BPMS has only provided a basic “process-centric” user interface, but the user interfaces are becoming more robust as vendors are expanding their solutions beyond the back-end workflow engine and into the end-user experience.
- Mobile Access – Extends the end user experience to mobile devices through HTML5 and/or other mobile application development/publication capabilities. Most BPMS options, at a minimum, allow their end-user portal to be accessed through a mobile browser (e.g., Safari).
- Collaboration (or Social) – Enables more effective team communication and problem solving through task sharing, email integration, instant messaging, screen sharing and other emerging trends (Twitter, etc.).
Additional BPMS components that are often utilized to differentiate solutions include:
- Process Modeling – Facilitates robust process definition beyond the process diagram. Captures key characteristics or behaviors of the process and its activities, often leveraging Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN).
- Analytics/Reporting Engine (Business Data Management) – Summarizes process AND business data into defined reports and dashboards or makes this data available to develop ad hoc reporting. Many solutions that do not offer full analytics/reporting capabilities ensure that data can be easily accessed by other reporting tools (e.g., SQL Server Reporting Services or SSRS).
- Business Rules – Provides a consolidated approach/library to define more robust rules/parameters for use within a business process (e.g. underwriting rules, product quoting/costing). A BPMS provides, to varying degrees, support for routing, escalation and other rules.
- Simulation/Optimization – Illustrates the effects of alternative conditions and courses of action within a process or analyzes the performance of an active process.
- Event Monitoring – Analyze processes and data to trigger appropriate events (e.g., activities, escalations, notifications).
Additionally, there are key integrations that may be required for a successful BPMS implementation. These features are typically external to the BPMS. The most important of these are a System of Record (SOR) and a Content & Document Management Solution. A SOR can be as simple as an underlying database or as complex as an ERP solution. Regardless, business data should only live within the BPMS during the lifecycle of the process while being permanently retained in an external SOR. Many paper-based processes rely on a Document Management Solution to manage the process-related documents and content.
A BPMS offers various capabilities that organizations can leverage to meet a variety of needs spanning multiple processes/business areas. When selecting a BPMS, a company must be diligent in identifying the most important features that align with their specific business needs.
Writing and contributions by both: Tom Ujvagi and Darren Rehrer.
Darren Rehrer manages Centric’s Business Process Management (BPM) practice where he supports Centric’s multiple offices with BPM business development efforts, solution methodologies and best practices. He has led numerous BPM implementations for clients representing financial services, insurance, manufacturing, telecom and retail/grocery companies. Contact Darren to learn more.