Business process modeling, simulation, automation, and integration have come a long way since the early days of flip charts and flow diagrams. Yet despite the myriad vendors touting “business process” wares today, firms still struggle with the right way to manage them. For maximum ROI, firms need process tools that give them the flexibility to continuously improve and innovate. To help companies understand the nuances among competing business process management (BPM) solutions, Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) introduces Business Process Management TechRankings™, the ninth category in Forrester’s TechRankings research of enterprise software markets. Business Process Management TechRankings makes its debut today at Forrester¿s TechRankings Summit, Building The Best Enterprise Portal, taking place in Salt Lake City.
For this TechRankings category, Forrester defines business process management suites as software for designing, executing, and optimizing cross-functional business processes that incorporate systems, people, and partners. Forrester invited all major companies in this market to take part in the product testing and evaluation process. Eight vendors and products have participated as of September 2002: FileNET’s Brightspire, Fuego 4, IDS Scheer’s ARIS 6, Intalio|n3, Metastorm’s e-Work, Savvion’s BusinessManager, Staffware’s Process Suite, and Ultimus’ Workflow Suite.
Vendors Raise The BPM Bar
IT departments have spent the past several years automating business functions and integrating systems to cut costs and increase sales. Forrester believes that the timing is right for a new breed of BPM suites to emerge that orchestrate these functions — along with people and partners — into flexible, cross-functional business processes.
“The BPM market is heating up as integration, workflow, and process-modeling software vendors scramble to reinvent themselves and add features to support the entire process life cycle — from process design, to process automation of systems and people, to process optimization,” said Sharyn Leaver, analyst at Forrester. “Despite user demand, no group of vendors has yet to deliver a complete BPM suite that provides business-level modeling tools, executes processes independent of underlying technology, incorporates human interaction with processes, and captures sophisticated process statistics to drive improvement.”
For this TechRankings evaluation, Forrester evaluated products on more than 300 detailed criteria, from which it identified nine key attributes that users should consider when evaluating BPM apps:
- Design. How sophisticated is the product’s development environment for the design of processes?
- Automation. How extensive are the product’s features for automating business processes built by the modeling tools?
- Human workflow. How well does the product incorporate the interaction of people with automated processes?
- Reporting and analysis. How sophisticated is the product’s set of tools for analyzing running and historical processes?
- Optimization. How sophisticated is the product’s set of tools for optimizing and redeploying processes?
- Product architecture. How robust is the runtime integration environment in terms of high performance, reliability, and scalability? What measures have been taken to localize the product for multiple registers?
- Usability. How intuitive and convenient to use are the product’s design and runtime environments?
- Vendor strength. Is the product here to stay? What are the vendor’s relevant partnerships, customer base, dedicated staff, and financials? When considering product support (e.g., channels, personnel, hours), how well does the vendor support its customers?
- Cost. What are the cost factors, such as licensing, maintenance, and support pricing?
Forrester advises CIOs to organize a process-savvy team to kick off their first BPM initiatives today. Firms can start by targeting low-risk, quick-hit niche processes, such as internal dispute resolution, that can resolve simple business pains without demanding high levels of scalability or reliability. Firms can also begin integrating BPM systems with enterprise portals to create the process portal: an enterprise portal that guides users through business scenarios in a more efficient and useful fashion than today’s corporate portals do. For those firms that want to tackle enterprise-level BPM projects today, Forrester recommends that until integration standards mature, companies couple software from BPM vendors with messaging tools and adapters to ensure reliability and connectivity with legacy systems.
Launched in October 2000, TechRankings evaluates enterprise software products through rigorous hands-on scenario-based product testing, in-depth research and user interviews, and objective analysis of global vendor offerings. Since every BPM suite deployment is unique, TechRankings lets clients use online tools to customize the research — and product evaluation rankings — to focus on the most important criteria and vendors for their projects.
Forrester invites all important vendors, based on their product fit and momentum, to participate. Forrester does not charge vendors in any way to participate in TechRankings. Forrester extensively checks and verifies results and updates the research with new vendor information.
Forrester offers TechRankings research, analysis, and selection services in nine software technology markets: application servers, business process management, commerce platforms, content management, customer service applications, enterprise portal servers, eProcurement applications, integration servers, and marketing automation applications. Forrester will continue to add important vendor evaluations and update the existing categories to reflect buyers’ evolving needs, in addition to adding new categories of software for evaluation. To learn more about TechRankings, visit www.forrester.com.