BPM Implementation - An Application Reduction Strategy

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Many companies today are looking to reduce the number of installed/supported applications as a way to save money and reduce complexity. Money is saved via reduced licensing, support and integration costs. However, many do not have a clear execution strategy, even while investing in application portfolio management solutions to get a better understanding of the application portfolio and tracking existing applications.

One obvious route to application reduction is standardizing on a single application globally if possible and if not, to a single application in a given region.

Many companies today are looking to reduce the number of installed/supported applications as a way to save money and reduce complexity. Money is saved via reduced licensing, support and integration costs. However, many do not have a clear execution strategy, even while investing in application portfolio management solutions to get a better understanding of the application portfolio and tracking existing applications.

One obvious route to application reduction is standardizing on a single application globally if possible and if not, to a single application in a given region. The same method above can be adapted during mergers and acquisitions. What should be the strategy after applications with duplicate functionality have been replaced with one application?

1. Extending the functionality of an ERP solution. Take the example of an asset based financing system. The ERP itself may not include a business process for end of term disposal of the asset. Such processes can be simply built using the right BPM solution by integrating with ERP data and extending the process to include other parties like consignment and transport companies and activities undertaken by them into the system.

2. Integrating the ERP system to several feeder systems that perform specific activities. Most such integrations require data to move between the ERP and one or more of the feeder systems and vice versa: these integrations can be orchestrated and managed by the BPM product providing increased visibility and error capture and reporting. This will also help prevent the creation of independent silos.

3. Replacing home grown applications, created for a very specific task. This is by far the largest and the most common set of applications in many organizations.An example could be 1) System used to track leases that are exempted from Income tax 2) System used to enable entry, tracking and reporting of  I.T requests from the business.Some of these solutions are integrated to the main ERP system through data feeds occurring at pre-defined intervals. These integration needs could also be met via a BPM.

4. Process modeling and execution tool for intra and inter departmental processes. Many standalone products implemented in I.T Departments have their own work flow solution embedded within the application and fully integrated to it. However there is no overall workflow connecting these individual flows, which is essential to an efficient process across application boundaries.

5. Existing ERP application Process/ Sub process requiring major process and code changes due to changing business requirements. If the cost of making these changes far out weighs the costs of implementing a BPM solution for that portion of the process, then it might be a good idea to do so as the BPM solution  provides greater flexibility and possibly lower TCO’s.

In conclusion a strong case can be made for using BPM as a strategic tool used globally both to integrate various ERP and other solutions already in place and to meet the very specific niche needs of an organization.

An engineer and MBA, Viveka Sinha combines a deep understanding of technology with an understanding of business processes and applications. Past experience includes stints as a BPM Product architect, BPM services delivery manager. Currently working as a PMP certified Project manager managing global projects for a large financial services company.”

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