Over the past decade, BPM suites promised to put the business in the driver’s seat for delivering process improvement to the enterprise. However, most of these promises fell flat, relegating the business to participate as backseat drivers directing IT on how best to steer process improvement. 

In the latest update to our BPM suites Forrester Wave report, Forrester evaluated 11 leading vendors against 148 product feature, platform, and market presence criteria. The Forrester Wave provided a head-to-head comparison of which BPM suites best support the needs of comprehensive process improvement programs that demand tight collaboration and coordination across business and IT stakeholders. Here's a sneak peek at the findings from our new report, "The Forrester Wave: Business Process Management Suites, Q3 2010".

  • Time-to-value and fit-to-purpose are top priorities. Process professionals are searching for ways to trim the fat from bloated BPM initiatives and constantly ask about tools and best practices for making BPM leaner and meaner. Leading vendors — like Pega and Appian — are responding to the need for leaner and more fit-to-purpose BPM suites by providing targeted solution frameworks, embedding agile project management features, and delivering highly customizable end user work environments. 
  • Collaboration is the key to BPM program success. Successful BPM programs require collaboration and coordination at all levels and phases. Since our last BPM suite Forrester Wave (i.e., our human-centric BPM suite Forrester Wave), vendors have upped their game in collaboration, with leading vendors delivering sophisticated social and Web 2.0 features that take process collaboration to a whole new level. The most impressive vendors — like Lombardi and Metastorm — have weaved social and collaboration into their DNA, providing sophisticated user profiling, process feeds, process discovery wikis, and even social harvesting capabilities.
  • Process repositories are no longer optional. One of BPM’s dirty little secrets is that a single process project can generate dozens of iterations of a single process model. Many process professionals I talk to are frustrated with maintaining numerous versions of a process model across different environments. To resolve this, process professionals are demanding a “single version of truth” for business process models. Some vendors — such as IBM and Software AG — are responding by providing comprehensive process repositories that allow teams to merge and track changes to process models.  
  • Consolidation hints at a bright future for BPM suites. Market consolidation often creates anxiety and instability within a market. And the BPM suite market has gone through many rounds of consolidation that yielded very little in the way of meaningful benefits for business process professionals. However, the latest round of market consolidation is beginning to bear real fruit for process professionals. Software AG’s acquisition of IDS Scheer will help bridge the divide between strategy and execution for BPM programs. IBM’s acquisition of Lombardi is starting to shape up as a good balancing act between speed and scale. And finally, Progress’ acquisition of Savvion has already resulted in “responsive process management” — real capabilities for real-time predictive process optimization. BPM programs can expect to hit some bumps in the road as BPM market consolidation continues, but overall process professionals can expect to see BPM suites coming together in more intelligent and diverse ways to support real business challenges and new operating models.

Forrester’s BPM suite vendor evaluation reveals a competitive space that is continuing to extend its reach and depth. Most interestingly, our evaluation uncovered impressive support for business-led process transformation. In short — BPM finally delivers on its promise!

Apart from reviewing the Forrester Wave, I also encourage you to attend Forrester's upcoming Business Process And Application Delivery Forum, where I will be keynoting with Dave West on "Thriving In A Process-Driven World". Hope to see you there!