January 30, 2017

What to Look for in BPM Software, Beyond Tech Specs

Written by
Dave Found

There must be a better way. Why does it take so long? This is a tedious process.

These comments are why we talk about business process management software (BPM software). We all use processes to get work done and hit goals. When these processes are inefficient, important tasks slip through the cracks, and managers begin to question the way their teams are working. 

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The purpose of BPM software is to identify areas of weakness, make changes to processes, and continuously monitor efficiency. When BPM is based on data-driven decisions, it can drive cost-savings for organizations and bring competitive advantage through higher productivity and agility.

Many companies are realizing the benefits of BPM software and looking to implement solutions. How do you choose the best technology? When evaluating process management solutions, most buyers start with the expected criteria, mostly based on technical requirements: 

  • Cloud/on-premise implementation
  • Business rule adherence and management
  • Workflow automation
  • Customizable views 
  • Real-time reporting
  • Security

While these ensure that the solution will suit from a technical and functional standpoint, evaluating a BPM solution should go beyond technical requirements. Considering the impact a new solution will have on your team, it’s important to consider not just how the software works, but how your team will interact with it and how the vendor will work to support your efforts.

In this article, we’ll look at four important areas to consider during your buying process. 

1. Product Roadmap Flexibility   

Every team will require a certain level of customization to make sure their business rules are addressed. That flexibility should not only exist in the product itself, but also in the development of the product roadmap (the vendor’s plan for adding new features and updating their current system). The product development roadmap should incorporate customer input and insight, while also regularly re-evaluating the priority assigned to requests.

When it comes to roadmap flexibility, here are some questions to ask a vendor:

  • How often is the product roadmap evaluated?
  • How often are new milestones established to ensure continued progress and development?
  • How important is client input to the roadmap?

Communication from both sides is crucial to make this successful. A consistent effort from both the organization and vendor is needed to improve the product. Organizations should discuss their business problems and requests clearly and honestly, while vendors should listen carefully and take a consultative approach to capture everything their clients need. On both sides, transparency is key.

Make sure you set baseline metrics prior to implementation that will help you measure ROI and performance after implementation. Examples: time it takes to complete tasks, number of people involved, SLA (service level agreement) compliance. As improvements happen, you should be able to clearly see how value is being added. Having a clearer picture of these metrics will help determine progress, success, and value.

2. User Onboarding and Training

Onboarding and training are crucial not only for implementation, but for the long-term success of your BPM initiative. Having the proper tools to get your team up and running will accelerate orientation and productivity. Ask the vendor what they offer for onboarding and training. As you get ramped up, there will be questions and concerns. Does the vendor provide a dedicated account manager? Online training documents? In-person training? 

Some BPM vendors may even have a professional services team that moves with the client through the onboarding phases to ensure business needs are met. These teams possess the required depth and breadth of experience (from technical to business skills) needed to manage the full implementation process.  

3. Compliance With Latest Best Practices and Technology

A benefit of outsourcing BPM is getting access to a team of skilled experts who keep up with the latest technology trends and best practices. As you evaluate each vendor, make sure you feel confident they will provide you with relevant advice and technology expertise to stay ahead of the game. Ask vendors how they stay abreast of developments in the industry and how they plan to innovate.

Are you part of a highly-regulated or secure industry? Your BPM workflows will likely need to follow security protocols for compliance reasons. In the health industry, for example, parties must abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Make sure the vendor is compliant and/or aware of the regulations that exist in your industry and ask how they plan to keep up with future changes.

4. Customer Service

You need a reliable partnership — not just a product —to make business process management a successful endeavor. The best BPM vendors will promise to deliver a consistent, high-quality service and support. Explore what support channels are available and whether premium support will incur additional charges. Ask about phone support, chat, email, and what time of day each is available.

If you find a vendor that tracks requests and uses help desk ticket information to make improvements to their product, even better.  

* * *

As you can see, it’s important not just to find a good product, but to choose a reliable vendor who will move and grow with your business. You need a team that continuously meets your needs and gets you to the finish line. As you compare solutions and build a shortlist, think beyond technical specifications and try to discern what kind of relationship you’re walking into. 

Ready to compare BPM software? Use TechnologyAdvice’s Product Selection Tool to get a custom list of options based on your needs.

David Found is the director of software architecture at Indellient and leads new product development initiatives within the company. His broad vision for a solution allows complex problems to be solved in an efficient and intuitive manner, specializing in modern and robust web applications. David earned his bachelors degree in computer science from the University of Guelph. To learn more about Indellient and its flagship product, Blue Relay, visit www.indellient.com and www.bluerelay.com.

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