Tech-obsessed BPM vendors ignoring users' needs

Business-process management vendors are creating unnecessary "bells and whistles" technology to the detriment of human interaction, claims Butler Group

Business-process management vendors are creating unnecessary "bells and whistles" technology without considering what their users really want, research has claimed.

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 Group said: "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 stated. "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 stated, 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", the report continued.

The report described another new feature of BPM — service-oriented architecture (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therefore, should not be allowed to be swallowed up in the wave of SOA hype, or be taken down should the SOA model be superseded in the future."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 Group, 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 said he 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.