BPM – Good Idea, Bad Acronym

August 26, 2010

2 minute read

Of all the acronyms in this industry – ECM, DM, GRC, ERP, PLM, etc. – BPM is the one that annoys me the most. Maybe it is just the approaching end of summer that’s fouling my mood, but ‘Business Process Management’ irks me because it can mean almost anything. After all, everyone is in ‘Business’ and every person and system in an organization is involved in a ‘Process’ that needs to be ‘Managed’.

AIIM’s definition of BPM does little to clarify: “BPM is a way of looking at and then controlling the processes that are present in an organization. It is an effective methodology to use in times of crisis to make certain that the processes are efficient and effective, as this will result in a better and more cost efficient organization.”

Nor is the specific meaning of BPM really cleared up by its oft-quoted benefits, namely:

  • Reduced operating costs
  • Accelerated business processes
  • Reduced compliance risks

Fewer than 50 Dedicated BPM Vendors

Understanding BPM is easier when it is described as a management approach, or a program implemented by an enterprise. These programs often leverage multiple software applications – ranging from modules provided by the ECM vendors, to dedicated BPM suites like Pegasystems. Most sources list fewer than 50 vendors that offer dedicated BPM solutions.

Gartner has the requisite Magic Quadrant – and AIIM surveys have shown that almost two-thirds of respondents identified the importance of BPM as ‘significant or imperative’ to their organizations.

The promise of BPM is sufficiently real, and there is meaningful consolidation happening in the market. The most recent rounds of acquisitions are bearing fruit, according to Forrester and other experts. Consolidation among BPM vendors, specifically IBM’s purchase of Lombari and Progress Software’s acquisition of Savvion is starting to bear some real fruit in terms of benefits to customers.

Adobe’s LiveCycle BPM solution has (likely) been strengthened with their recent acquisition of Day Software. LiveCycle has long focused on improving form-related business processes, although the processes covered by BPM go well beyond this.

Our customers have successfully realized the reduced costs and improved compliance by leveraging best of breed technologies that seamlessly link with business processes and systems across their organizations. The value comes from both quantitative measures – like costs and time – and more qualitative improvements to their business processes, such as improved service to internal and external customers.

So, I suppose, even though I don’t particularly like BPM as an acronym, I do appreciate what the concept can deliver to a customer – and that our solutions play a critical role in that delivery.

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