Monthly Archives: June 2009

Are “Bolt-On” Business Process Management Systems Running Out of Market Space?

I confess–over many years designing office/service (O/S) process, I’ve never once introduced a client to free-standing BPM technology. Too expensive, especially for SMEs, but often in large company settings as well. Too hard to implement, complicated by increased IT outsourcing. But most of all, in O/S settings BPM technology is largely redundant and often irrelevant. Everything BPM systems do that’s appropriate for the O/S space, we provide using alternative methods–especially process management facilities embedded in more and more application software.

For example, SAP’s application layer workflow engine obviates using “bolt-on” BPM systems. And when ERP systems don’t offer BPM functionality, for O/S purposes we typically look to very extensible and configurable CRM systems for process management and measurement. That works especially well because HYM designs O/S process from the customer in, so we’re already enabling customer-company interactions with CRM software. And in the back office, supply chain management systems including SCOR, which is based on “outside-in” process principles, provides more granular process management support than generic BPM technology.

And speaking of granularity, a new wave of “communication-based process” applications embedded in telephony systems will soon appear, offering very granular management of unified communication across the enterprise. Still less need for freestanding BPM in the O/S space.

And there are other tools as well. In fact, although not yet widely used or understood, Microsoft’s XRM supports development of multiple “applications” on a single platform with replicable, multi-use code, which will enable users to integrate office/service process management technology at the application level, a huge advantage over using free-standing BPM technology. We’re drooling over the opportunity  to apply the XRM concept to our Visual Workflow O/S process approach.



Because office/service environments are so highly collaborative and interconnected, the exact opposite of manufacturing, content management tools including SharePoint (used by Microsoft as part of XRM) pitch in and carry part of the load. Project-heavy companies are adopting workflow managing project management applications, which again drill down much deeper than free-standing BPM systems. often much more robust than PM capabilities in freestanding BPM systems.
Add it all up and we have “bolt-on” BPM technology that most SME’s can’t cost-justify; that’s not specific enough to support much of O/S process; and that replicates application-level functionality already at work in many O/S settings. And ERP-based applications increasing have the manufacturing space covered.

Not exactly a rosy picture, when vendors are still stumbling over themselves to introduce new, “bolt-on” BPM systems.