The focus on business process management (BPM) as an organisational discipline has grown rapidly, particularly over the last year as the slower economy forced "doing more with less" to the top of every CIO's agenda.

According to a recent report by Gartner, spending on BPM software is expected to increase by five per cent over the next 12 months.

Over the years, BPM software has evolved from its early roots in workflow to a more comprehensive "pure-play" BPM software that offers graphical process design, process automation, and process monitoring and reporting capabilities for human-centric processes. It was this pure-play BPM software that delivered such strong results for early adopter organisations worldwide and helped to drive the increased interest in BPM.

However, during this transition, the enterprise application integration (EAI) providers continued to address the need for complex integration and automation of system-based processes, the business intelligence (BI) providers continued to meet corporate performance management needs, and the business process analysis (BPA) vendors catered to organisations with more advanced process modelling and simulation needs. While all are critical to business success, this segmentation of the technology market poses a challenge for buyers and IT organisations who need to purchase multiple applications and then piece them all together. It is a cost, time, and maintenance headache. This has led several of the leading pure-play BPM vendors to take the lead in expanding their solutions to encompass all of these areas - providing what has become known as a "BPM Suite."

A true BPM Suite allows companies to address the full, BPM process of both human-centric and system-based processes. The full process includes modelling, integration, automation, management, monitoring, analysis, simulation, and improvement - with the goal being to create the agility needed to continually repeat this cycle and fine-tune your business.

To take advantage of the latest, most proven BPM Suite technology, CIOs must first understand the options available to them and then ensure that the right solution for their organisation is chosen.

Here are five best practice steps to help you choose the right BPM Suite solution:

1. Determine the scope of your process management needs.
2. Understand what the BPM "essentials" are and then determine what additional advanced features you need.
3. Based on what you discovered in Steps 1 and 2, document your requirements and weight priorities.
4. Identify a short list of vendors.
5. Conduct vendor evaluations and engage in proof-of-concepts.

Engaging in effective business process management practices within your organisation is no longer an option but an operational necessity. The question then is whether or not implementing a BPM Suite is also a necessity - or can you make do without it?

Given that thousands of organisations around the world, across dozens of industries, are implementing BPM technology and becoming more efficient, increasing control, and gaining the visibility to be more agile, it seems the answer is that you can either move forward with choosing and implementing a BPM Suite or risk being left behind.

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5 Steps ChoosingBPM

About the author

Laura Mooney is vice president of corporate communications for Metastorm - a provider of enterprise architecture, business process analysis, and business process management software. Laura has over 18 years of experience in the technology marketing field.

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