Forrester Wave for Human-Centric BPMS

Forrester just released a report on human-centric BPMS, and Lombardi is just busting with pride over their position: so much so, that they’re giving the report away here (registration required). Phil Gilbert must be doing a little happy dance, especially considering that their “dot size” has increased from a tiny blip on the radar to a more respectable market presence. Forrester’s had a soft spot for Lombardi for a while: the March 2004 “Pure Play BPM” wave (that’s when we were still calling this “pure play”) had Lombardi at the cusp between Strong Performer and Leader. Relative positions of many players have stayed pretty much the same since then in the Forrester rankings (Garter’s rankings are quite different), although TIBCO and Pegasystems have made significant increases in market presence. I’d have to say that Forrester must have been looking mostly at the American market presence, since TIBCO (which was still the Staffware product during the 2004 ranking) had a huge presence in UK, European, Australian and other markets that I saw.

Excerpts from Forrester’s executive summary regarding those in the Leaders category:

Lombardi Software, Pegasystems, and Savvion lead with comprehensive suites that foster rapid, iterative process design; Appian leads with a richly featured suite for people-intensive work; and TIBCO leads with a human-centric BPMS that leverages its integration-centric product.

In fact, later in the report, they more categorically state “Lombardi Software, Pegasystems, and Savvion lead the pack — hands down“, then they proceed to break out the specific reasons for their evaluation. However, they also stated “If you could only buy one BPMS product, Fuego offers the best — bar none — product supporting human-intensive and system-intensive processes“, an assessment with which I don’t disagree, after seeing things like Fuego’s web services introspection (although I still insist that they put their swimlanes sideways). They go on to say that “Appian and FileNet innovate beyond the boundaries of human-centric BPMS” by integrating collaboration tools that allow a non-standard process to go off the rails in a somewhat controlled manner.

One thing I didn’t like is how Forrester categorizes business processes:

  • Integration-intensive
  • People-intensive
  • Decision-intensive
  • Document-intensive

I don’t really agree with this categorization, first of all since it’s not normalized: integration-intensive and people-intensive certainly are at opposite ends of the same scale, but their definition of decision-intensive is really people-intensive with a strong need for business rules (which I think are necessary pretty much all the time), and document-intensive is just people-intensive with a lot of scanned documents involved. Although document-intensive processes would always be people-intensive, I believe that decision-intensive could fall anywhere along the integration-to-people scale since it is primarily about the use of business rules. Although many organizations are still choosing separate products for integration-intensive and people-intensive (or human-interrupted, as one of my customers once so charmingly put it) processes, the real issue in this report should be about any given product handles all three of (what I see the artificial divisions of) people-, decision- and document-intensive functionality.

The last half of the report shows the explicit criteria ranking for each vendor, and a detailed paragraph of strengths and weaknesses for each vendor. Definitely worth the read.

4 thoughts on “Forrester Wave for Human-Centric BPMS

  1. Sandy… thanks for the mention. We are pleased with the Wave! Ye-haw! But time marches on and we’re onto the next wave of innovation already (no pun intended). When are you going to pop in for a demo? Cheers, Phil.

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