Robotic process automation and business process management are highly complementary but they cannot serve as stand ins for each other’s technology. And yet, there are some RPA vendors on the market that will purport to handle BPM as well, said Ben Alexander, VP of Product at PMG. There may be some overlap in toolsets, he said, but not much. In short, as with any software application, a company needs to go through the vetting process for a BPM system very carefully. Rule No. 1: don't fall for BPM pretenders, especially as the "true" BPM products are very encompassing. Don't fall victim to tools or suites that just offer lightweight business process modeling capabilities. 

Unfortunately there are a number of companies that are not as familiar with BPM technology — at least as familiar as they might be with a, say, sales force automation application — and may not be able to make this distinction. For instance, said Mark McGregor, SVP Strategy at Signavio, European companies have tended to invest in business process systems and modeling applications over the years while their US counterparts have not put the same emphasis on these applications, he said. Many US companies have indeed implemented faux or "lite" BPM applications — a state of affairs that has led to solutions being applied in a piecemeal or siloed manner, he said, which is hardly the best way to implement what is supposed to be an application that manages an end-to-end process.

How to Start

Most BPM suites tend to have certain features in common — the components will focus on connectors to databases and systems, user interface design tools, the automation engine and rules engines, McGregor said.

They are also likely to include process monitoring and dashboards, which are centered around the automated processes that they run, he added. Also, he added, “one of the key messages for many BPM suites is the low-code or no-code paradigm.” One way to make sure you are buying a true BPM engine is to check for these features.

Related Article: What Is Business Process Management (BPM) And Why Is It Relevant Today

Learning Opportunities

Customization and Integration Points

Beyond that Miguel Valdes Faura, CEO and co-founder of Bonitasoft said, a platform that is flexible enough to customize is also valuable, “An open, extensible platform with customizable APIs and extension points will allow integration with almost any third-party information system, which will mean it will be compatible with different sets of unique requirements,” he said.

A Great UI

Also, make sure that the application’s user interface builder is a good one, he continued — the best digital customer experience starts there. “A BPM that provides a mix of graphical tools, tooling, framework and customer coding to apply where appropriate” is what you are looking for, he said.

Related Article: Enterprise Content Management & Business Process Management in the Cloud

Find a Partner Not A Vendor

It is also important to consider your company culture and the culture of the vendor, Alexander said. “Do you see yourself liking to work with this company? Because if you going to implement a BPM system, you want a vendor with whom you can relate because you will be stuck with them for a very long time.” One interesting way he suggested determining this is to ask whether you will keep calling them a vendor, or will you ever feel like you can call them a partner. “For an application like BPM that entails a lot of back and forth with the vendor, a partner is what you really want at the end of the day.”