Business process management (BPM) and workflow are becoming an integrated
and integral part of business applications. Far from being seen as a useful
add-on that some companies make the effort to incorporate into their
software stack, business today requires BPM as a standard component of its
applications to assist in enforcing governance regulations.
"The need to enforce business and governance rules with 100% efficiency has
convinced companies that BPM systems are no longer nice-to-haves, but
essential," says John Olsson, sales and marketing director of Ability
Solutions. "As a result, the large software vendors are incorporating BPM
into their applications to provide users and development partners with the
architecture to easily build and implement effective workflow solutions.
"The ability to expand an application beyond its limited scope and link it
to other applications, areas and people within the organisation and its
partners is vital in modern business. It's more efficient, for example, to
prevent a picking slip from being issued if there is no stock available than
to print it and then do more work dealing with the problems of lost
paperwork, delayed delivery and frustrated customers."
Along with this fast adoption of BPM is the realisation that the old
menu-driven user interface we have become accustomed to is past it prime.
Tomorrow's workers will function from their BPM-enabled inboxes.
When logging into their inbox, users will immediately be able to see all
their tasks arranged according to importance, as well as their e-mail. Each
message will have a task along with any relevant information. Once they have
completed a task, it will not simply be stored somewhere waiting for someone
else to collect it and continue the business process. Using BPM, each step
in the business process is known and as soon as one step is completed the
task is automatically escalated to the next and the responsible person
"A supervisor will no longer have to manage the process as the application
will ensure each step is followed by consistently applying the company's
predefined business rules," adds Olsson. "Users will not be able to deviate
from the prescribed processes nor will they be able to skip steps and
attempt shortcuts. If they do the system will raise an alert."
Apart from the ability to strictly enforce standard business practices in
all areas of operation, BPM also empowers companies to impose the relevant
governance regulations they are subject to, safe in the knowledge that they
will be adhered to.
As a stand-alone add-on application, BPM can add more complexity to normal
business processes and as such has not always been welcomed by users. By
incorporating it into existing applications and making the user's inbox the
central point of interaction, BPM becomes part of the usual working routine
and an important ally for organisations requiring more efficient, yet
unobtrusive control over adherence to authorised business processes. BPM is
not a future technology, it is a current reality.