More than process mapping with flow diagrams: next-gen BPM explored for 2019
Traditional business process management is mostly going the way of the conventional Management Consultant: either it’s going digital, or it’s going under.
That’s a reflection on the increasing amount of digitization that underpins processes in the modern enterprise. In fact, outside of a few artisan manual industry verticals, most organizations’ processes are driven by technology in one form or another.
In modern businesses, there’s simply no way to separate out business processes from the applications and services that carry out most tasks. In some cases, the use of particular apps, for instance, actually dictates the way the company operates. That was especially true a few years ago when large, meta-packages began to be deployed in the enterprise. ERPs were monolithic software and service constructs that were often dictatorial to their users. True, specific amendments could be achieved to make the solution more bespoke, but usually only at great expense, and always with the danger of the smallest point upgrade “breaking” any altered code.
And while large ERPs still have a role to play, most organizations now use multiple, specialist point products to serve their needs; solutions that more rigorously follow the processes that get business done. That’s been found to be highly effective even in large, globe-straddling companies and transnational organizations.
For companies wishing to innovate and drive change at scale, encapsulating the whole enterprise’s processes and activities is very much a technologically based exercise. Physical workflows are mirrored in software applications, cloud services and systems both on- and off-premises, and so the initial audit of a business’s processes usually involves an IT audit (generally with many licensing horrors revealed during the process).
What successful business process management has now evolved to mean, goes beyond the auditing of processes or technology. Today, cutting edge BPM systems go further, to include facilities to join up the point products that are spread across the enterprise, as well as the larger-scale meta-packages that still form the backbone of many organizations (SAP, Salesforce, Oracle, NetSuite, and the like).
In IT terms, that’s often referred to as interfacing or breaking down data silos, and it can be technically very demanding. Software and other networked systems communicate with one another via APIs (application programming interfaces), but interlinking APIs across the entire IT stack can be a full-time job for entire departments. That’s because, in larger enterprises, business units often operate with a degree of autonomy, able to spin up cloud services as required, and deploy their share of internal compute/storage/network resources as they need. Organizations of any size can easily use literally thousands of apps and services, and finding multiple instances of the same app (in different versions and with varied deployment models) is not at all rare.
From that degree of complexity, only BPM systems that can be genuinely classed as next-generation are able to automate connected systems; and it’s here is where lean, cost-saving practices can be implemented. Cutting out wasted resources (human and technology) not only saves on operating costs, but in the detail of each piece of process, there are often further efficiencies to be found even in a single app: moving from on-premise to cloud, moving from public cloud provider to a competitor, deploying hybrid network management solutions — all possibilities become more apparent thanks to BPM’s microscopic focus, and any changes can be driven by strategic business requirements, rather than being dictated by technology.
Instead of business consultants, enterprises are turning to full-service new-gen BPM providers, companies capable of pure-play BPM, but also able to offer solutions that can break down point-product silos, automate, and speed up digital transformation. As the lines between business processes and technology get increasingly blurred, the “management” element of the BPM acronym gets a newer meaning: management is more than overseeing, it’s empowering, technologically fluent, capable and strategically-driven to get results.
Here at TechHQ, we focus on three BPM providers that work in multiple verticals, each capable of providing this new generation of solutions, partnerships and fuel for the engines of digital and business transformation.
UK-based Symbox offers a platform many are seeing as the natural successor to old-school BPM solutions. From a single framework, companies of any size (the application suits massive scaling well) can audit, document, automate, monitor and report on people, technologies and the business processes that are the heart of the enterprise.
There’s an incredibly powerful no-code facility that creates enterprise-resilient apps for very fast deployment, using the interconnected (via pre-made API connections) applications and services in use every day. Automated data flows and transformations from app to app, service to service (cloud or on-premise) can be set up, tested and rolled out in practical, easy-to-use applications available in days, not months.
End-to-end transformation of business begins with consultation and auditing, followed by connecting apps, services, silos, databases and archives with the platform’s pre-made connectors. Automation follows, and the whole enterprise can be monitored in real-time, as work flows freely across even the most complex of companies.
People become citizen developers, technology becomes interconnected and de-silo-ed, and processes optimized for efficiency, as digital transformation efforts accelerate. You can read more about this new-generation offering here on the pages of TechHQ. Recommended.
Pega’s BPM technology is available as software as a service (SaaS) from its own provision that it calls Pega Cloud, but it’s also available if you want to install on-premise. If you set store by the likes of Forrester ratings, the company fares well. A Wave Report found Pega well-ranked in mobile engagement and contextual guidance and either led or shared the lead in 13 further categories. In the same vein, Gartner has recognized the company as a leader in its magic quadrant for intelligent business process management suites.
The Pega platform allows the building of powerful apps that unite the enterprise’s various distributed systems, with a host of powerful, business-centric development functions. However, it’s worth noting that the company’s emphasis is on business process methodology, rather than a technological standpoint, and apps are developed using the former in order to get wider uptake among non-technical type: that is, we think, a good thing in this market segment.
This method it terms “case lifecycle management”, which is effectively a software abstraction layer between the business process owner and the application code. There’s also an interesting approach to “big data” processing: Pega’s adaptive decision management code allows users to mine large data stores, and all processes are monitored as automations pass (and are parsed) information between app stacks. You can read on right here.
Right across the enterprise, Nintex helps companies’ departments work more efficiently together. IT departments’ internal processes can now gel with HR, Finance, Operations and customer-facing call centers, in a joined-up entity that encompasses the whole business.
The Nintex platform drives significant change through the organization, integrating the entire disparate software stack via pre-made Connectors, and automating data interchanges at scale.
The low-code automation capabilities that come with Nintex mean results come fast, as staff previously undertaking dull, repetitive data exchange tasks (like cut and paste, double- or triple-entry) can be reassigned to more core activities.
Nintex is an extensible platform, that allows simple connections too to outside parties and services, from companies in the supply chain, to providers of AI. The latter can, for instance, can be used to process the unified data lakes most large enterprises own (although rarely see as a single item). You can read more about Nintex here.
*Some of the companies featured are commercial partners of TechHQ