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ebizQ watches close to 100 software products that support the business process management (BPM) value proposition. This software is provided by more than 50 suppliers. The use of the term “value proposition” is important conceptually because there is really no such thing as BPM software or BPM technology, but rather products and technologies that enable BPM.

The idea is not to confuse the value proposition with the enabling products or technology. They can range from products with the term BPM in their names such as Oracle’s BPM Suite to SAP’s NetWeaver-based Business Process Platform to collaborative software such as IBM Notes or Microsoft Outlook (both companies also offer products with BPM in their names) to workflow-based document-centric products such as Adobe LiveCycle and EMC’s Documentum-heritage products. Most companies, such as the six mentioned above, offer BPM-enabling software and a range of other types of software. Some offer only BPM-enabling software.

In ebizQ topic terms, the business process management value proposition encompasses BPM suites and platforms, enterprise content management (ECM), business activity monitoring, business performance and optimization, human-centric BPM, business process (e.g., CRM, ERP) integration, process monitoring, process modeling, and other such terms commonly used in the IT industry. For division of labor reasons, BPM in ebizQ’s view does not include IT Lifecycle Management (ITLM), which we admit could be considered BPM for the IT department, or Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM), which although it uses many of the same enabling technologies as BPM-related software, does not offer the enterprise the same value proposition.

The BPM value proposition is most akin to the ERP value proposition of the 1990s (easy integration, unified information about business activity and access to reports about that information by knowledge workers without IT intervention, and so forth). But BPM does not require IT users and line managers to select—and therefore depend on—only one vendor.

Which software product or products you use to solve your BPM challenges will depend on the extent it is, for example, workflow-centric or requires more straight-through processing (STP). Other characteristics include whether or not the products are better suited to internal workflows (Intranet) or business-to-business (B2B) or similar Extranet process flows that span legal entities. Whether the flow is more event- or data-driven is a third important characteristic. In an ideal world, one software suite would support all these functions but such software is not yet available.

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