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Business process management (BPM) is a great approach for automating, managing and optimizing a wide range of business processes. But that's the problem.



Many BPM solutions can be used to manage and optimize a wide range of processes. On the surface (and for many companies) that's a good thing-organizations can invest in one (BPM) platform to handle both horizontally- and vertically-oriented processes. Over the past five years, most BPM products have broadened to point where they're platforms more than products-supersized BPM, if you will-which is a very good thing.

However, as they've become more complex, with more robust and sophisticated options, sometimes something gets lost-the ability to quickly and easily automate and manage a relatively simple business process. Or course, this is not to say that many of today's BPM solutions can't address smaller or more focused processes-they can. In fact many more sophisticated BPM products are offering a variety of process templates, professional services offerings and even pre-packaged solutions that can help jumpstart BPM projects. But the problem is more than just a whether a product can do something-it also comes down to more mundane details. Can a company/customer easily understand what a product can do (i.e., is it directly suited to address their specific business need?)? Can they easily make a purchase decision? Can they easily implement and deploy the solution without having to deploy a new platform or infrastructure component?

In fact, that's where I believe that many of today's "supersized" BPM solutions are facing some difficulty-BPM platforms are great for solving complex, business and process-related problems. But the more sophisticated they are, the more options and modules they have, the more difficult it becomes for an business manager (or project manager) to quickly, easily and concisely identify a perfect fit, purchase a solution quickly, and deploy rapidly. In my mind, today's BPM solutions remain a great option (especially with all their new additions and capabilities) for a great many business problems and IT organizations.

But there's also room for solutions that use BPM-technologies without providing a platform or total-BPM-solution-type approach. You might call it BPM-lite or BPM-based vertical solutions. I believe that over the next few years we'll see an increasing number of companies purchase and deploy business-oriented solutions built on BPM foundations that address specific process requirements or business/IT niches.

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