Selecting a BPMS without falling into the chasm

This week’s BPTrends Advisor newsletter discusses the “crossing the chasm” paradigm when it comes to BPM, and highlights a current issue with BPM within organizations that still leaves us in the “early adopter” (i.e., pre-chasm) phase:

Most companies talk about processes these days, but few are willing to make a comprehensive, top-down commitment… [T]hey see business process management as a means of curing specific problems or of making specific, incremental improvements. Most companies don’t see process as a management philosophy and a way to organize the company.

I see a lot of that happening with companies that I work with: BPM is typically selected, purchased and customized for a departmental project, and when it comes time to look at other applications, it’s like starting all over again since no one considered the enterprise requirements from the beginning. Sadly, one exception that I saw to that was an organization that selected an integration broker suite as their BPM “standard” after looking at only the EAI-type process requirements across the organization, with the type of results that you might expect. There’s some fairly well-accepted criteria for selecting a BPMS these days; Gartner recently published a report on them that’s worth reading if you’re in the marketplace.

I don’t think that every acquisition should be held up in order to perform a full enterprise-wide needs analysis, but for a technology that is becoming as pervasive as BPM, you should at least be looking beyond that first project. You wouldn’t buy an RDBMS without considering enterprise-wide needs; we need to start thinking about BPMS in the same way, or we’ll never get across this chasm.

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