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Ground-Floor BPM

Scott Menter

Total Mobility

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Mobile, BYOD, and cloud-based computing have combined into a perfect storm, drenching IT in a downpour of user demand. A new level of expectations have been set: secure access, any time, any place, any device. As Forrester analyst Clay Richardson points out in this interview with ebizQ contributing editor (and forum moderator) Peter Schooff, this trend towards mobility has the potential to change the way we think about business process design.

If you're considering acquiring a BPM platform, or figuring out how to adapt your existing solutions to accommodate the new mobile reality, here are some things you may want to keep in mind.

  • • Form factor. Those beautiful, dynamic electronic forms you spent months designing? Yeah, they look pretty different on an iPhone than they did on the desktop. While some BPM products will automatically adjust form appearance based on the display, it's better to spend some time creating forms that are built to look great on the devices your users are carrying. That means that you'll need some way within the form definition to specify that things should be laid out one way on one device and another way on another--not every BPM solution will have this feature.

  • Cloud. With your user community increasingly going mobile, that on-premise intranet-based BPM server you're running may no longer cut the mustard. Consider moving into the cloud--but be sure that your BPM vendor's cloud offering includes the same features as your existing installation. Pay special attention to addressing the matter of connectivity to your intranet's other applications and databases: this won't work the same way with a cloud app as it does now.

  • •  Offline. Until the whole world is on WiFi, your users will occasionally find themselves without connectivity to your intranet- or cloud-based BPM server. Plan a strategy for dealing with your offline mobile users. In some situations, the ability simply to approve or reject requests via email is sufficient (and is especially useful for executives on the go). In others, you'll need the ability to access and complete dynamic forms, automatically submitted when connectivity is re-established. Offline form completion is still a pretty rare feature in BPM solutions, so talk with your vendor to understand when that capability might become available and how you can take advantage of it.

In the end, mobility isn't just about adding strange new devices to your network. It's about empowering end users--be they co-workers or customers--to control their own experience. That sort of control is addictive; if you don't believe me, try to take away your kid's iPhone for a few days. Or hours. The business, IT, and technology vendors each have to play their part in creating an environment flexible and robust enough to satisfy the large and growing demand for anytime, anywhere access.

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Scott covers ground-level BPM issues of interest to enterprise users who are tasked to do more with less while improving business processes.

Scott Menter

E. Scott Menter is the VP of Business Solutions for BP Logix, a provider of business process management (BPM) solutions to corporate, non-profit, and government organizations. In addition to technology leadership positions in financial services and higher education, Scott also spent over a decade leading his own identity management software firm. Contact Scott at Scott.Menter@bplogix.com
or http://twitter.com/ESMatBPL.

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