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Because a lot of business process management (BPM) software descends from integration server software, there's a tendency of IT folks to look at BPM from a software stack perspective like this:



Even worse, because of marketing considerations (or whatever) there is a small group of software suppliers that bury BPM further down the stack, as a bolt on to their SOA and enterprise service bus (ESB) strategy like this:

That's a bad way to think of BPM and almost a guarantee that you are not going to get a good return on your investment. The perspective of being lower on the stack typically means such software should be "hidden away" in the server closet. That's the last place you want BPM software to make it worth the time using it. It needs to be conceptually the glue that not only ties the different divisions and groups in your company together but also glue that ties you to your suppliers and customers. Think of BPM like this:


Click here to enlarge this image.

Is viewing BPM this way a way of dissing your ERP software? No, SAP's R/3 and the heritage Oracle application suite have very powerful workflow capabilities built in. It has taken both companies a while because they had other irons in the fire but they are beginning to view the world in this "new view."

So if you ERP guys look at the world this way, you should too. The ultimate proof of course is that both SAP and Oracle are willing to sell you BPM capabilities even if you do not purchase their applications.

Many suppliers still consider the question of ERP vs. BPM from the technology perspective. But many of them can help you decompose existing in-house-developed software, which is what the leading ERP suppliers have multiple-year efforts in progress to do.

For BPM to really fit at the top of the stack, it cannot just support workflow or just support integration. It needs to integrate the BI aspects of the stack as well (not included in illustration).

About the Author

Dennis Byron brings three decades of analyst experience to his role as ebizQ's Community Manager for Improving Business Processes. This community covers Business Process Management (BPM), Process Modeling, Process Analysis, and Business Alert Monitoring (BAM), among other topics.

As Community Manager, Byron will blog and podcast to keep the ebizQ community fully informed on the latest news and breakthroughs relevant to enterprise BPM. Byron will be responsible for bringing you breaking news on BPM daily, writing feature articles and sourcing content from other analysts, industry associations and vendors for publication on ebizQ. Finally, each week, Byron will compile the most important news and views in an e-mail newsletter for ebizQ's ever-growing BPM community.

Byron is ideally suited to the job, as he has researched and analyzed all areas of IT and information-systems use for the past 30 years. Byron looks at BPM market dynamics backed up by facts, while taking into account the perspective of the IT and business person. He is a frequent speaker and moderator on business processes, which will also be one of his roles as Community Manager.

Byron was the ERP and Middleware Analyst with the Datapro division of McGraw-Hill and IDC from 1991 to 2006. In these roles, he was the primary analyst for Business Process Management. He has conducted over 500 specific information-systems case studies. He has contributed to Application Development Trends, IT Business Edge, Research 2.0 and other publications.

Byron is also the principal of IT Investment Research, which is aimed at institutional and individual investors in IT, or anyone who enjoys peering under the covers of "the financials," where large companies and emerging IPOs like to bury their most interesting facts. His main area of interest is investment opportunities in enterprise software.

More by Dennis Byron

About ebizQ

ebizQ is the insiderís guide to next-generation business process management. We offer a growing collection of independent editorial articles on BPM trends, issues, challenges and solutions, all targeted to business and IT BPM professionals.

We cover BPM standards, governance, technology and continuous process improvement, as well as process discovery, modeling, simulation and optimization, among many other areas. We follow case management, decision management, business rules management, operational intelligence, complex event processing and other related topics. We closely track important trends such as the rise of social BPM, mobile BPM and BPM in the cloud. We also explore BPMís use in functional areas, such as supply chain and customer management, and in key verticals, such as financial services, health care, insurance and government.

ebizQ's other BPM-oriented content includes podcasts, webcasts, webinars, white papers, a variety of expert blogs, a lively online forum and much more.

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