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Options for business process management systems

You must first understand the options that are available to you to ensure that you choose the right business process management suite. To take advantage of the latest, most effective and proven BPM suite technology you should perform five steps that will help you to make an informed decision about the right BPM suite solution for your company.

1. Determine your company's needs. What are your most critical processes? What is your company's short-term vs. long-term needs? Is achieving a service oriented structure part of your company's overall strategy? These are just a few of the questions to answer to help determine the needs of your company. Early involvement of both business users and IT managers is critical to the success of any BPM project, so be sure to include these people in the BPM suite evaluation and the selection process.

2. Understanding the BPM essentials and the more advanced BPM features. There are certain essential elements that must be present in your BPM solution in order for it to be successful. Your implementation is likely to be longer, and less beneficial without these essential elements, and could even fail altogether. A BPM suite must be able to address your human-centric and your system-based processes because they are both critical to your business.

Some features to evaluate include the ability to:
 a. Design and model a process in a graphical format. A format that can be owned and maintained by the process owner.
 b. Separate business rules, forms and roles from process flow for easier maintenance.
 c. Manage both simple and complex processes via a robust, scalable process engine.
 d. Create online forms that flow through a process. This will help to eliminate paper.
 e. Provide a single user view across an entire process, through a variety of portals enable accessibility, such as SharePoint, Outlook, the web and mobile devices.
 f. Provide easy access to manage and control the content that people need in order to make intelligent decisions during the process.
 g. Add new processes without slowing down or affecting business operations.

3. Document your requirements. Document both functional and company performance requirements to ensure you look not only at the product but at the vendor who will be supporting you. In addition to documenting what is important to your company, outline what is not important. This will be a reminder to not get distracted by unnecessary product features.

4. Identify a short list of vendors. The first step in identifying potential vendors is to narrow the options by eliminating the vendors who are not BPM suite providers. Evaluating a company's market leadership position, performance, maturity and vision will even narrow your choices further. You want a vendor who has a successful, established customer base and one that will continue to dominate the market. Check customer references and results. If a customer is willing to talk about the results it is likely that the solution results exceeded the customers expectations.

5. Conduct vendor evaluations. Make sure you focus on the features that are most important to your business. Don't be afraid to have vendors do a proof-of-concept exercise early on in your evaluation process. This will help you in making your final decision and give you more confidence in the ability of the vendor to meet your specific needs.

It is no longer an option for your company to engage in effective business process management but is now an operational necessity. Choose to move forward and increase your company's chances of success by choosing and implementing a BPM suite that is best for your company. Start the process, step by step.

For more information on how to choose a BPM suite for your company, download the 5 Steps to Choosing the Right BPM Suite white paper from MetaStorm at http://www.metastorm.com/library/wp.asp.

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