Good Management Takes Planning

Too often, companies fail to make the tactical decisions needed to ensure a successful deployment of business-process-management software.
Pegasystems Inc. has rolled out a series of process templates that accelerate deployment by automating common back-office processes while letting companies manage exceptions by referencing the underlying rules engine of Pegasystems' Process Commander software. The vendor's first two sets of horizontal templates are Pega Customer Process Manager and Pega Quality and Exception Manager.

Customer Process Manager contains packaged workflows and business rules that address common components associated with case management, such as issue resolution, service and fulfillment, and correspondence management. The Quality and Exception Manager provides a basic framework for improving exception-handling by referencing business rules and accessing domain knowledge and best practices that are specific to a situation.

Quovadx Inc., which has dedicated considerable resources to developing templates applicable to complex regulatory and business requirements unique to the life-sciences and health-care industries, is developing broader solution frameworks for financial services, manufacturing, and the public sector. These frameworks incorporate common elements related to more universal business challenges such as order management, customer service, risk management, quality control, supply-chain management, and regulatory compliance.

Staffware plc offers packaged templates for delivering complete sets of end-to-end business processes, including mortgage, claims, and loan processing, and credit and payment authorization. Staffware has focused on specific industries, but in the course of developing these targeted solutions, the vendor has built process templates that address common challenges that arise across many industries. Examples include new product development, product launch, change management, supply-chain management, customer service, and correspondence management. Staffware's separation of business processes from underlying legacy systems and applications allows for effective reuse of these components.

Last, Savvion Inc. has more than 30 packaged process templates within its BusinessManager product that incorporate best practices obtained through Savvion's partnerships. Savvion offers two levels of process templates: horizontal frameworks that serve as a departure point for common horizontal functions such as HR and finance; and vertical templates for specific industries for processes such as order fulfillment, claims processing, and provisioning. These templates are incorporated into a methodology designed to expedite deployment of live applications into production in less than 90 days.

The trend toward development of process templates will gain momentum as companies recognize the value of reusable process components to make process steps repeatable and consistent across multiple settings. BPM offerings increasingly will be adopted as enterprise process-management platforms. Businesses are looking for a single platform not only to develop standard integration approaches across multiple applications but also to create a standards-based environment for developing multiple types of process-management apps. The key is to ensure that the chosen framework meshes with the technology environment and general development direction.

Once a company decides on which BPM software to use, it's important for it to carefully evaluate the expertise of its BPM implementor. The depth of implementation expertise is critical to success. Look for implementors with expertise in the underlying process tasks to facilitate adaptation of the solution templates to the unique needs of your business.

The final point for companies to remember is that they don't need to suffer from analysis paralysis. Technology solutions that can make a significant impact on a business' core processes are available. All too often, companies spend inordinate amounts of time trying to anticipate all possible iterations of a process, or they try to anticipate every report that managers will want in order to evaluate the process being automated.

DoculabsIt's important to understand that BPM solutions are meant to be evaluated and optimized over time, just as the processes being supported should evolve to better support the business. The right BPM framework will provide the flexibility to easily adapt, so companies need not wait to start improving their business performance and competitive advantage.

Avi Greenfield and Dennis Shin are senior analysts, and Christine O'Connor is a technical writer at technology-consulting firm Doculabs.

Illustration by Rich Lillash

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