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Human-centric BPM was born a few years ago as analysts struggled to sort out competing BPM products and identify significant software characteristics. At that time, human-centric BPM tended to stand apart from other kinds of BPM applications.



Today, though, some human-centric characteristics are built into most BPM suites, notes Derek Miers, a principal analyst with Forrester Research. However, that doesn't make those characteristics less important. In fact, making sure that you've selected a suite that provides the right human-centric characteristics can have a significant impact on how well your BPM initiative functions.

Following are five factors to keep in mind when selecting a BPM suite with human-centric features:

1. AUTOMATION VS. HUMAN INPUT

Miers defines human-centric BPM broadly, as involving everything that people need to accomplish in the course of doing their jobs. For instance, even processes that are almost completely automated, such as clearing check payments, often still require some human input and decision-making to handle the exceptions that inevitably crop up.

Consultant Troy Bitter agrees. "Even if you have an assembly line, not everything is automated," says Bitter, a senior practice lead at the Cohesion Business Technology consulting firm. "So you must optimize not just for the manufacturing method, but also for the people." With a human-centric approach, you can set up mechanisms for communicating when decisions need to be made about changing processes, he continues: "That's information that people can act on so that everything runs smoothly."

Bottom line: Automation can't encompass everything. Human-centric BPM can fill the gaps. Choosing the right BPM tool involves knowing what's needed where.

2. CONFIGURABILITY

BPM also serves an organizational change agent, encouraging the business to look at itself in a different light, Bitter says. For instance, rather than considering itself a medical-device manufacturer, a business might view itself as a company that saves lives through medical devices. "This kind of a fresh approach opens the door to thinking differently," he says. "It allows everyone to begin to ask how to improve, how to remove the waste from the business and how to do continuous improvement to drive the business to be more repeatable and predictable."

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