Here’s a statement I never thought I’d hear: “In the past, [Business Process Management] has been too much focused on process.”
But that’s exactly how Miguel Valdes Faura, CEO and cofounder of Bonitasoft, views the market today: less talk about process and more about applications. After all, it is applications that use these business processes, and if the apps aren’t engaging, it will be difficult to get folks to use them.
There are three components to applications: business logic, the user interface, and business data. Today’s applications are being built in a faster, more efficient way. But, Valdes Faura noted, “It’s hard to maintain [an app] and make changes” as quickly as business would like. “Let’s say you want to change the process, or add a menu to the UI, or change the business data model, or simply add a field to a form. All of this affects the application. An app is more than a process; it’s the data model and the UI.”
But certain business processes do different things. Some are back-end, like human resources or business administration. Those processes do not need to be changed often. Other processes, though, are connected to customer-facing applications, which introduces new challenges.
“For back-office operations, the focus remains on cost optimization and resource and asset utilization,” explained Comindware’s Maria Kozlova. “For customer-facing business processes, such as lead management, customer request management, customer trouble ticketing and such, the priority is on a consistent customer experience, eliminating data loss or data duplications, enabling multi-channel operations and availability on mobile devices.”
Part of the dynamic, Kozlova said, is in application development. “Back-office operations are normally well defined and do not require constant change. The virtue is stability, compliance and control. In contrast, front-office processes are the core of the competitive advantage. This is where businesses fight over every inch to survive. Such processes are very dynamic and require extremely high flexibility and configurability of the supporting systems.”
A drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create processes in the applications, but the platform also gives developers a way to expand their applications by adding their own components, Valdes Faura said.
Comindware’s Kozlova agreed that “The more that can be outsourced to business users for them to configure, run and change, the better. The renowned ‘gap between business and IT’ is a significant showstopper for many businesses and remains so at present.”
The company believes that the work items underlying processes, projects and cases are the same: tasks, documents and discussions. So, Kozlova said, whether your priority is forecasting project completion dates or costs, or routing multiple documents along a loosely defined task flow as in case management, or mandating a fixed sequence of actions for the sake of process visibility and control, the atomic work items are the same. “Having them managed and tracked in separate systems—while they are an integral part of every work management scenario in almost any mid-sized to large business—is disruptive and counter-productive,” she said.
Comindware’s platform is a fully integrated work-management solution that covers projects, processes and cases, and adds social collaboration that enables quick business application building by business users.
So, creating ironclad business processes behind today’s applications can doom businesses to being locked in to those processes, and make them miss opportunities as they arise because they are glued to their processes. As businesses today realize they are digital companies that need to respond quickly to changes in their markets, they need a new approach to creating their projects and processes. Platforms such as those discussed here can provide the agility that allows the business to keep pace with the speed of development and change.