The history of business process management (BPM) is littered with the remains of failed implementations. The reasons for these failures are numerous and varied but they often have a common theme – complexity. Many companies set out to implement BPM systems to automate processes that they struggled to manage manually, thinking that an upfront investment in software would save them the cost of maintaining disparate departmental systems and achieve other benefits such as improved productivity or reduced costs.
IT departments were often quick to back that idea up by recommending expensive products from vendors promising the “latest” technologies which could be “easily integrated”. However, what too many organizations end up with is not a solution tailored to their needs but a complex toolset that can’t be easily used by business users, or that requires huge investments in training and changes to working practices.
The key problem with complexity isn’t that it’s hard to understand what’s going on, but rather that it increases costs and prevents organizations from realizing the benefits they expected when they bought into BPM. Complexity also drives people away from using the systems, which reduces their effectiveness further still. This is particularly true of line-of-business managers who are often more committed to achieving business outcomes than IT specialists. In fact, one of the biggest barriers to implementing BPM is not that business and IT staff don’t understand each other but that many specialists find it difficult to think like their non-technical line managers.
Better Processes, Better Results
Most organizations learn pretty quickly from those mistakes – as do software companies who sell process management systems. Many have developed solutions designed specifically for enterprises with multiple lines of business and complex requirements, such as managing CRM applications used across the company or interconnecting disparate portals (which may all require a separate integration project just to enable them to talk to one another).
What Is Enterprise BPM Software?
Enterprise BPM software is designed for use by people working in the business. It has a simple user interface and doesn’t require specialist technical knowledge to operate. It also accommodates change by being configurable – a feature that IT departments may find frustrating as they would prefer to dictate how things are done, but which is nevertheless more useful in the long run.
Business users can configure enterprise BPM tools so they reflect their organizations’ needs and work practices. This makes it possible for them to carry out common tasks without referring back to specialists or waiting for changes to be made by IT teams on a project-by-project basis. For example, instead of waiting weeks (or even months) for an upgrade of legacy systems, a business user with access to an enterprise BPM tool can make the changes they need themselves, in just minutes.
In addition to being faster than its competitors, it’s also easier to deploy enterprise business process management software on existing infrastructure rather than requiring dedicated hardware and software platforms. This means businesses don’t have to bear the cost of replacing equipment or retraining staff when introducing a new process management system.
The same goes for using the tool. An enterprise BPM system can be installed easily by IT teams but it’s also deployed and operated on an ongoing basis by business users without requiring any specialist training.
The advantages of this are twofold – happy, autonomous workers who see themselves as being in control rather than dictated to (and don’t have to waste their time waiting for IT experts), ensures that processes are carried out more efficiently, while IT departments get a return on their investment in technology over a shorter period of time than they might expect from other solutions.
This is why so many businesses are turning towards enterprise business process management software instead of bespoke systems or other products. Unlike those alternatives, it doesn’t introduce unnecessary complexity, instead focusing on the needs of business users. It also offers a shorter time to return on investment. It gains tangible benefits in productivity, customer satisfaction, and overall cost reduction for organizations that choose enterprise business process management software that’s easy to use, thereby improving their competitive edge.
Scalable Processes Are Simple Processes
It sounds like common sense but too often companies invest in complex systems in order to deliver “enterprise-level” functionality: that is, they believe that if they buy more sophisticated tools, then their processes will benefit too. The problem is that people using them simply won’t be able to cope with it.
Instead of IT departments trying to micromanage business users they need to get the best out of enterprise business process management software by making it easy to use and guiding businesses toward “process-oriented” thinking rather than chasing after over-complex solutions that are hard for anyone but specialists to understand.
Trying to scale an organization’s processes when those processes are overly complicated isn’t a recipe for success – in fact, it’s likely to have the opposite effect. Processes have become more complex because organizations have tried to bolt on new functionality without revisiting their existing workflows first. In turn, this has led them into a downward spiral of complexity that is exacerbating problems further still. The simple answer is not the latest technology, but the right approach to processes.
Enterprise BPM software makes it easier for business users to configure processes themselves without waiting for IT departments or working with outside consultants. It also helps businesses concentrate on what they do best, which is why enterprise BPM has become synonymous with agile and lean thinking and metrics-based management. For all these reasons, the right solution can transform an organization’s processes – but only if it’s implemented correctly in the first place.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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