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BPM from a Business Point of View

Scott Cleveland

Not Investing in BPM?

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From the 2009 BPM Market Report...

Respondents were asked to indicate why they had not invested in BPM software...

25% - Using workflow management inside some other enterprise software [like ERP]
20% - Unable to find project sponsor [desire is there, but no funding]
17% - Unable to demonstrate a compelling business case
16% - Lack of internal motivation

My Thoughts...

I will take on these in reverse order...

Lack of internal motivation - I can't understand this one. In this economy, competition is fierce. How will you win your share of the business? Either you get more customers to maintain your profits or you must be more efficient to increase your profit margins. This is a perfect time to increase your market share.

Unable to demonstrate a compelling business case - Every return on investment analysis that I have performed shows that BPM can pay for itself within a year. I contend that not enough time has been spent to analyze the financial benefits.

Unable to find a project sponsor - If you do a good job building a compelling business case, finding a project sponsor should be easy.

Using workflow management inside some other enterprise software - Most charge for their workflow capabilities and those capabilities are not the best. Before making that decision, I recommend that you perform due diligence comparing the alternatives.

What does it all mean?

More efficient business processes lead to increased revenues, lower costs and improved customer relationships. It can differentiate you from your competitors. It can be the key that allows your company to break out as the market leader.

Your Thoughts...
What steps has your company taken to be a market leader?


BPM users do not correctly calculate total cost of ownership. A study we did with Forrester showed that the cost of running a BPM setup is TWICE as expensive each year than the first implementation. BPM is only feasable if that is ignored.

So I propose that BPM DOES NOT pay for itself in the long run. If you have studies that show the long-term feasibility then please share them. I have been unable to find any despite searching for ten years.


Max may be correct that many do not correctly calculate TCO. But most who are using BPM effectively probably aren't as concerned with year-over-year cost savings. The efficiencies gained will be significant, while the financial savings may be difficult to quantify.

The key word in the survey is BPM "software". I don't think in principle it is difficult to understand BPM values, that's why a lot of companies including mine is applying some best practices and methodologies to improve business processes. The troublesome is so called "BPM software". First of all, what's the definition? a lot of softwares have been and are using for automate some kind of business prcessess to gain efficiency. However, if we talk about here a BPM suite, usually feedback is too complex to use and costly to maintain as Max and Pat mentioned above. Right now, more and more empowered knowledgeable workers involved daily business transformation and innovation, they will also see pre-defined flow chart like BPM is not suitable for them. BPM software needs to help or enable us to address these challenges: Quickly model, automate, and monitor repeatable business processes, Easily involve business users to participate in, maintain solutions and technology less costly, articulate clearly overall return/value on investment, and most importantly enable knowledgable worker to get job done quickly not lock them down by rigid business process flows and rules.

In my company we have another problem: too manay "BPM software". it is due to lack of governance and tools have been introduced separately, independently and simultaneously with different purposes. None of them gets a good utilization with clear returned values and we have been paying a lot of money to maintain them and no chance to develop skills on them to be able to give business needs clear answers. This also contributes to the concern: the problem is sometime how to position or use software or tools, and solution is definitely not tool first.

Scott Cleveland blogs about BPM from a business point of view.

Scott Cleveland

Scott Cleveland is a technical, innovative and creative marketing manager with more than 25 years of experience in marketing, marketing management, sales, sales management and business process consulting aimed at high-tech companies. His areas of expertise include: product marketing, solutions marketing, solution selling, sales maangement, business process management, business process improvement and process optimization. Reach him at RScottCleveland[at]gmail.com.


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