3 Compelling Reasons to Implement a BPMS

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Director / owner, Lithe IT Ltd
Anthony is a BCS Chartered IT professional, with over 15 years IT experience, working mostly in Financial Services and the UK Public sector. Having worked as an IT Director, he is passionate about helping businesses successfully use technology to increase agility. He formed Lithe IT to help further this aim.

As with many IT professionals, I was first attracted to BPM by the capabilities offered by BPMS technology to increase business agility and reduce costs. Working as an IT Director, I identified two compelling reasons to invest in a BPMS. The first was that it offered a low cost and effective solution for automating administrative business processes, thus reducing operating costs. I secondly saw it as an effective solution to achieve a stated business aim of continuously improving processes at low cost, where the pace of change would be rapid.

A third compelling reason has recently emerged; using a BPMS to meet increasing business demand to complete business processes via mobile devices. Let’s look at each reason in more detail, so I can explain my conclusion that all senior IT professionals should give serious consideration to implementing a BPMS to increase agility, even if they don’t plan to embrace wider BPM principles.

Compelling reason 1 – A BPMS supports rapid and low cost automation of business processes Against the current macro-economic background, businesses are looking for ways to reduce costs whilst not degrading their ability to offer quality service. Automation achieves this by decreasing staff involvement in processes whilst creating a consistent and quality service experience. Extend automation with real time reporting and well-designed escalations and management effort will also switch from monitoring work queues to identifying further cost saving opportunities.

Most BPMS solutions I’ve looked at provide the functionality needed to rapidly automate administrative processes for managing data and executing predictable process activities. Leading BPMS solutions provide rich “out of the box” zero code capability for automating highly complex processes, such as those involved in case management, which typically interact with EDRMS and CRM systems. These BPMS also deliver sophisticated reporting capability, zero code forms creation, business rules management, process simulation capability and much more.

In traditional application development, functionality, reliability and quality are entirely dependent on the capabilities of the development team. Having a poor skills mix or limited experience is a frequent cause of failure. When a BPMS is chosen as the develop platform, the procurement process should provide the assurance that documented functionality works as required, giving confidence that applications using those capabilities will also work.

Add to this the low cost and short lead times involved in training staff to create complex applications on a BPMS platform, compared to training or souring skilled developers and the proposition for IT Directors becomes highly attractive. Using a BPMS platform your team should create complex applications packed with functionality at a lower cost and in a shorter timeframe than using alternative technology.

Compelling reason 2 –BPMS technology increases the pace of application change processes If you work in a senior IT management position it is almost inevitable that you are faced with business users complaining that change requests take too long to implement or that they never get their change prioritised even though it is only small in size. It is also common to be told that the last project didn’t deliver everything that was needed, even though it was signed off as meeting all requirements before implementation, and additional change is now urgently required.

For agile businesses, there is a need for IT Directors to support a faster pace of change, whilst still exercising appropriate control. A BPMS will provide a number of “out of the box” features to help overcome this challenge. The most significant of these is to empower the process expert to make considered changes to in-flight process instances without having to involve IT.

With leading BPMS solutions a process manager can be given restricted and controlled access to resolve many issues by themselves. They could change process variables to alter the execution path, restart the process at a previous or subsequent step, or terminate the process and start again, with all changes recorded in an audit log. The underlying process can remain the same until a formal change process is followed, providing the flexibility the business wants to cope with unexpected outcomes and the control IT needs to maintain.

A process manager can also expect to be given full control over their team members’ skill levels for executing specific tasks and over the occasions where checks are required. Managers want to modify throughput targets, control work queue priorities, override automatic work allocation rules and change the time allocated to completing individual process steps. As these features are available within the BPMS, the number of change requests made to IT is reduced.

A powerful feature of all BPMS solutions is the use of graphical workflow to define business processes in a way that process experts can understand. Indeed many use the BPMN standard for their models to achieve this. This approach makes collaborative working between IT and process experts involved in creating and modify processes highly productive, and mitigates traditional barriers between both. It also promotes ownership of the automated solution with the process expert as they are able to question and understand the technology implementation for each step in their process in a way not possible with coded solutions.

The combination of self-service functionality with improved process understanding makes it faster to implement higher quality changes, than using code based solutions.

Compelling reason 3 –BPMS technology exposes business processes to mobile apps at low cost With increasing consumerisation of IT, expectations are being raised at an incredible rate. Requests to IT are no longer limited to providing a windows client or an intranet based application. Business users now expect to execute business processes on their mobile devices.

In the last year, several BPMS vendors have added zero code capability which provides exactly this. The BPMS solutions offering this capability can be configured to control how screens are rendered on mobile devices. The vendors have also provided apps to be downloaded and customised from Apple, Android or Windows mobile stores, which expose work queues and related search capability to business users.

With hardly any additional effort, a business user can remain productive when out of the office and processes will not be held up awaiting their return. As mobile phones are not appropriate for completing all tasks, individual tasks can excluded from mobile work queues at design time, making best use of the mobile workers time.

Traditional methods simply cannot offer an IT Director equivalent capability at anywhere near the same cost, again raising the attractiveness of investing in a leading BPMS.

Summary I believe that a key behaviour of an agile business is its ability to implement decisions taken against emerging opportunities or threats, rapidly and with confidence of execution. For an IT Director, this means being confident of delivering functionally rich applications, available on any device, that meets business requirements, again and again.

For the reasons outlined in this article, I believe that when senior IT professionals consider the potential benefits offered by leading BPMS solutions, they will be attracted to their many capabilities, even if they are not interested in BPM.

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