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**Editor's Note: Interested in how process management can affect the bottom line, then you cannot miss ebizQ's upcoming Virtual Conference 'Business Processes and the Bottom Line.' Click here to continue.

Before an enterprise begins to implement business process management (BPM) software, it needs to decide whether its business processes are primarily straight-through or are mostly workflow-driven. They also need to decide whether the processes are conducted primarily over an Intranet or an extranet, are event- or data-driven, case-oriented or ad-hoc, and so forth. But because designing and developing one software package to handle these multiple permutations is a work in progress, users still have to choose one flavor of BPM middleware.

Did you know you can supercharge your supply chain by leveraging BPM with SOA? Click here to learn how.

During the middle of the last century, the applicable saying in the U.S. for many choices was: "That's why Howard Johnson's has 28 flavors." But no supplier wants to be the Howard Johnson's of BPM in the 21st century, so suppliers are working to handle customers' needs, standards and interoperability requirements in one package. IT Investment Research regularly speaks with BPM users about the business issues they face, the business processes they need automated, and how their BPM solutions meet their expectations. The users' responses outline the major features BPM suppliers will concentrate on in upcoming product versions.

Using BPM to automate supply chains

I find that users want to start using BPM with suppliers and customers, but that that sort of deployment is in its infancy. Users also indicate that when the enterprise itself is the result of mergers and acquisitions (as is often the case), it is a lot like using BPM with suppliers and customers.

Eric Otterstein, Senior Director of IT at Assurity Life Insurance Company, a Global 360 BPM user, notes that Assurity is the result of the 2005 merger of Security Financial Life and Assurity, which itself was the result of the merger of Lincoln Direct and Woodmen Life. One of the objectives of the mergers was to offer both direct and independent agent marketing channels, which sets up classic supply chain automation issues that are handled by BPM software such as Global 360's.


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