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Understanding Exactly How People Use BPM: Global 360 Explains

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What follows is my podcast with Scott Kirkland, Vice President of Product Management at Global 360. Scott is responsible for product management for the company's process and document management solutions, and in this podcast we discuss business process management: how BPM is more important than ever as companies search for cost-savings in these tough times, and also how BPM can continue to transform business processes, which is by understanding exactly how people use BPM. Give it a listen below.

Listen to or download the 8:20 podcast below:

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PS: In this downturn, many companies are cutting way back on IT spending. So if a company only has enough money to spend on one IT initiative right now, why should that initiative be BPM?

SK: That's a great question. So as we've seen, most companies navigating through today's tough economic conditions, the top priority for most of the business leaders as we've seen is to cut operational costs. However, most of these organizations recognize that they have to continue to improve workforce productivity at the same time and to do so; we need a company that's looking for technology like BPM to help them achieve these objectives.

And so as you look at the top priorities that we've heard from most of the IT leadership in these same organizations, CEOs are telling us that they must focus on three things. So the first is to improve their business processes, second is to reduce those enterprise costs, and the third is to improve enterprise workforce effectiveness. And simply put, BPM is an enabler to achieve these things. So as we all know, the discipline of BPM is really about improving the business processes. And furthermore, an approach to BPM that focuses not only on the technology but really only users can dramatically reduce those operational costs and improve the productivity of the workforce.

Good answer. Now, BPM has made a great impact on many companies' bottom line. Now what are some of the next steps companies need to take so that BPM can continue to deliver the value to the enterprise?

Peter you at right and that's exactly what we're hearing is that many companies are experiencing the benefit of implementing BPM solutions. And at Global 360, we look at how organizations can achieve some of the cost savings. We try to help customers understand and identify the challenges that they have existing across what I call a continuum of process improvement opportunities and that really ranges from simply getting paper off the floor to optimizing complex processes.

And so I know the statement may sound a bit vague so let me try to give you a little more context how we see customers are getting started with BPM and how they continue to deploy it across the enterprise. So we're hearing from many of our customers that they realize value from their BPM investments by simply identifying areas in their business where they can eliminate the paper and by doing so share knowledge across the organization.

And as a continuum of that spectrum, many of these organizations are also sharing with us that they're finding opportunities to expand the access to information through implementing documents-based workflows. Once they've achieved that, then some of these same customers are looking further along that continuum to really streamline processes by implementing process and case management solutions and that's a pretty common use case that we're hearing from the majority of our customers.

As we continue on up that spectrum and look at some of our more mature customers, they're sharing with us that they're expending their value of their BPM investments and taking advantage of some of the performance management and business optimization capabilities found in most suites including Global 360 Solution. and this really addresses the needs of many of those senior executives to improve that end-to-end invisibility across their operations.

That's good to know. Now, I found it very interesting that Global 360 has done some research on how companies actually use BPM. So tell me a little bit about what your research has revealed.

You bet. We spent approximately the last two years and made some significant investments in really understanding how our customers are leveraging a Business Process Management. We found a few key things. The first one I'll tell you about may seem a little obvious in hindsight. So as we spent time in our customer's environments really understanding what they're doing on a daily basis, we concluded that irrespective of the industry, there are primary persona groups that are using systems like ours and we've coined them as builders, participants, and managers.

So if you think about the builders, those are the technical users that are responsible for designing, deploying and maintaining the systems. Participants are those individuals that are really the end users. They spend the majority of their time in systems like ours and these users may range from data entry personnel, to the specific processors, to researchers, to reviewers, even to first-line supervisors. As we think about the third group, the managers, that really ranges from that departmental level manager all the way through the senior executive.

And as such, these users need everything from super user capabilities as some of them spend a significant amount of their time within systems, to also the complete visibility or the more comprehensive visibility needed by those senior executives. So that was one of the first findings. As we continue that research, we also found that historically BPM vendors including Global 360 focused primarily on those first groups so the builders and the managers because those are the folks that that are candidly buying the system.

And what this meant is that many of the BPM systems provided great tools to address the needs of builders like designing process of models or perhaps addressing the needs of managers such as providing dashboards for that visibility. But it left the open question of what about those participants, what about those end-users? And so as the research showed and also as many other folks are contending, that's really where the benefits, the return on investment that people are achieving are coming from those end-users, those individuals. And so candidly, this is where the organizations are able to achieve most of this and we concluded that our solution must address not just the builder, not just the manager, but also those participants or end users. And so recently, we've launched Persona-based BPM.

So what exactly is Persona-Based BPM?

Great question. So Persona-Based BPM is our approach as I've just stated focusing on the needs of the three primary Persona Groups, the builders, the participants, and the managers. Persona-based BPM is the industry's first approach to focus on the ergonomics of a user experience. So in other words, our approach delivers an optimized user experience based on the study of how work gets done within organizations like the customers that we recently visited. Persona-based BPM furthermore delivers applications that are designed to optimize usability by providing a comfortable and efficient user experience.

So it's much more than just great UI. Our BPM solution delivers out-of-the-box package user experience for each of the groups that I just talked about. So at a very high level, that gives you a little detail. Let me try to share some more information with you specifically about the needs of builders, participants, and managers. So for the builder, the IT professionals we're providing a suite of capabilities that allow the users to do everything from designing, deploying and maintaining the system.

So we provide specific capabilities for users like business analysts to model and simulate processes and optimize those in design time. We also provide tools needed by designers to develop the process, the data and the application model. And this set of tools really allows those developers to easily deploy the system by simplifying the migration across development test and production environments.

And finally, the suite of capabilities for the builder included administration console that allows the system admins to be either centralized or segregated across various business processes. Next, so think about the participants or those end-users. So we provide a series of out-of-the-box applications for these users that we identified in our research. Today, we're addressing the needs of the most common users ranging from the data entry personnel, processors, and first-line supervisors. And as stated previously, these applications provide everything that the user needs to do his or her role from a single application.

Finally, the third group for the managers, Persona-Based BPM Solutions delivers the management reporting, the executive dashboards, the process monitoring and the process analytics capability.

The ergonomics of user experience. That makes of sense to me. Now what do you see for the future of BPM and Global 360?

Peter as we talked about, BPM is an important enabler for companies to focus on cutting those operational costs while improving the workforce productivity. and so at Global 360, we believe that BPM will become even more important to organizations as they navigate their way through the tough economic conditions and even if things began to improve. So as we talked about over the last few minutes, we're recognized as a leader in process and document management and we're seeing a strong demand for solutions like ours and we look forward to helping customers continue to improve the way that work gets done.

ebizQ’s expert blog team covers a broad range of BPM, business integration, business analytics/monitoring, collaboration, content and related issues.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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