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All too often, companies invest in BPM technology that help them rack up some initial successes, but ultimately leave many initiatives in danger of stagnation or failure, according to a Forrester Research report on BPM suites.

"To avoid BPM flameout, business process professionals should beware of the two most common pitfalls of BPM-suite initiatives," Forrester Senior Analyst Clay Richardson warns in the report, "Forrester's Best Practices Framework for BPM Suites." He identifies those two problem areas as:

1. Lack of a strategic focus on business value. Many companies have big plans for becoming "process-oriented," but haven't developed taken any practical steps toward turning that vision into reality. In many cases, the process leader’s efforts haven't adequately addressed stakeholder concerns or potential constraints on time, money and other resources." Implementing a BPM suite should be tightly linked to business goals, be focused on customer outcomes and clearly identify the methodology and constituents that will be affected," Richardson writes.

2. Lack of attention to structural and political issues. Sometimes, BPM-suite initiatives degenerate into "technology-centric projects aimed at basic process automation, without any thought of continuous process improvement," Richardson notes. Such projects may result in cost savings, but their sheer scope and complexity makes it challenging to determine their real value. Meanwhile, that same complexity, combined with the lack of clear objectives, often helps push the focus away from the important work of redesigning business processes and redefining how employees will work within them.

"A BPM suite's potential lies not in technology itself, but instead in using technology alongside an in-depth understanding of the mission-critical cross-functional business to drive continuous improvement and process transformation," Richardson says. "The most effective BPM suite initiatives frame success by their overall impact across the organization and core business processes — but they're implemented in focused incremental steps."

In additional to providing detailed insights on how to get the best return from a BPM suite investment, the report offers two more tips for preventing BPM flops: Start small, and choose your process initiatives carefully. "Firms must be selective about deploying their resources by carefully defining the best opportunities for quick gains and avoiding the temptation to do too much too quickly," Richardson writes.

For more information, or to order the report, visit www.forrester.com .

About the Author

Anne Stuart, ebizQ's editor from mid-2010 to mid-2013, is now senior editor for SearchCloudApplications.com at ebizQ's parent company, TechTarget. She is a veteran journalist who has written for national magazines, daily newspapers, an international news service and many Web sites. She’s specialized in covering business and technology issues for 20 years. Based in Newton, Mass., she can be reached at astuart@techtarget.com. Follow Anne on Google+ and at annestuart_TT on Twitter. For general questions about ebizQ, please e-mail editor@ebizQ.net.

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