Tech-obsessed BPM vendors hurt human interaction

Business Process Management (BPM) vendors are creating unnecessary "bells-and-whistles" technology without reference to their users' wishes, according to new research by analyst house Butler.

Business process management (BPM) vendors are creating unnecessary "bells and whistles" technology without considering what their users really want, new research has found.

BPM typically allows business professionals to develop operational processes which reflect their business requirements, according to a Butler Group report, with application development, modelling, and integration services driving the users' need for the technology.

However, vendors tend to get carried away with technical aspects of BPM rather than responding to users' real needs, Butler says: "One worrying issue is that BPM has a history of hooking into the latest and greatest technology wave."

While users focus more on the human interaction angle of BPM, vendors prefer to see the system as a "technology sell" -- a standpoint which can negatively affect communication, according to Butler.

"Unfortunately, even today, many BPM vendors still struggle to move away from their entrenched position of seeing BPM as a technology sell, a stance that works to the detriment of human interaction," the report said. "Another significant issue that also divides the vendor and user communities is the 'automation' (the vendor position) versus 'human workflow' (business analyst vision) disparity that continues to exist."

In contrast, the inclusion of features such as real time monitoring of processes is positive, the report says, but counterproductive information overload can occur if vendors do not consider the delivery method. The design of dashboards displaying KPIs also needs to take on forms mirroring the needs of the users instead of being "just pretty interfaces", it continues.

The report describes another new feature of BPM -- SOA -- as even threatening the existence of BPM: "BPM is a solution and technology approach in its own right and therefore should not be allowed to be swallowed up in the wave of SOA hype, or be taken down should the SOA model be superseded in the future."

Instead of focusing on building new features into BPM systems -- which business users' systems may not have the resources to use -- BPM vendors need to continue to get development, integration, and service-delivery basics right, according to Butler, remembering that "in the real world getting frontline facilities up and running and keeping them there with minimum support overheads is what provides the bottom-line value".

Butler Group senior research analyst Andrew Kellett sees the future of BPM as a converging of vendor products and user needs: "The way forward for BPM involves getting a better alignment between what the technology vendors think is required, and what the end users are actually looking to do with their BPM solutions," he said in a statement.

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