Published August 22, 2018  in Workflows and BPM

What is BPM Software (BPMS) – A Buyer’s Guide

Business Process Management Software (BPMS) is a type of software that makes it easy to analyze, manage, and improve your business processes.

Before we get more into BPMS, though, let’s talk business process management. The software acts as a supplement to the methodology, and you can’t really have one without the other.

What is Business Process Management (BPM)

Business Process Management isn’t something you “do” once or twice – it’s a methodology of constant process re-evaluation and improvement.

So, what does that mean in practical words (and not corporate buzzwords)?

Every member of your organization, all the way from shop floor to the C-suite, should be focused on improvement. Whenever there’s a chance to improve any given process, they should be encouraged to start a process improvement initiative (also known as the BPM lifecycle), which consists of 5 steps…

  1. Analyze – Find improvements within a process. Is it underperforming in some way? Are there any ways to make it more efficient? Can some parts of it be automated?
  2. (Re)Design – Using what you learned in step #1, you can either design a new process from scratch or make some changes to the existing process.
  3. Execute – Put the new process into practice. Generally, you’d want to do it on a small scale (before applying it company-wide) to make sure that the new iteration is more efficient than the old.
  4. Monitor – To ensure that the changes you’re making are having a positive impact, you should monitor all the important KPIs (input, output, duration, etc.).
  5. Optimize – If the process isn’t performing as well as you thought it would, you find ways to improve it and optimize it further.

Carrying out the initiative just once, though, isn’t enough. You should go through the lifecycle as many times as needed to make sure that the process is as efficient as it can possibly be.

So now that you know what’s BPM, you’re probably wondering where does the software part come in? Read on to learn what is Business Process Management Software (BPMS) and why it’s an essential part of any BPM initiative.

  Want to learn more about BPM as a methodology, and how it can help your business become more efficient? Check out our in-depth guide.

What is Business Process Management Software (And Why it Matters)

At this point, BPM and BPMS are essentially synonymous. The software is a critical part of process management – without it, it’s borderline impossible to adequately manage and improve processes, especially if you’re part of a big corporation.

You probably have thousands of employees and hundreds of processes. So, how do you make sure that…

  1. Everyone is following the right iteration of the process (and not just doing it however they feel like)
  2. Every single process is tracked, analyzed, and improved

BPM software is the solution you’re looking for.

Before we get into the nits and grits of BPMS, here’s a brief on what the software does from one of our process management experts…

Process Expert Tip

BPM software helps digitize your business processes. In more practical terms, any given process owner can create the process through the system. Meaning, they input the exact tasks that the process is comprised of, instructions on how to complete each, deadlines, and so on.

Then, BPMS makes sure that the process is completed right. It gives out relevant tasks to each employee and automates task transfer. I.e. when an employee is done with task #1, another employee is automatically assigned (and notified of) task #2.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

Now, how exactly does BPMS help manage your processes?

Whenever you’d want to make changes to the process, all you have to do is log on the software and change it through there. Any employee relevant to the process is notified of the changes, and the system automatically enforces the new process rather than the old.

This saves you the hassle of contacting hundreds of employees and explaining the new changes. Everyone gets to follow the right iteration of the process, and you get a centralized system to keep track of any improvements, changes, etc.

In addition, here’s a handful of features present in just about any BPM solution…

So, the general takeaway here is this – if you want to have efficient processes in your organization, you should definitely look into adopting BPMS.

BPM vs Workflow Software – What’s the Difference?

If you’ve been reading up on BPM software, you’ve probably heard the term “workflow management” more than once.

You’re probably wondering – what, exactly, is the difference? Both types of software seem to be selling exactly the same thing. Well, you’re not wrong. Most BPM and workflow systems on the market today are basically the same thing. They’re all used for routing tasks, modeling processes, working with forms, and so on.

Before, though, there was a big distinction between the two. Workflow management software, by definition, specifically helps with routing tasks between employees. Most BPM software used to come with workflow management software as part of the solution, but also offered a lot of other high-tech functionalities.

Today, though, it’s just about the same thing. Some companies (usually the older ones) call their software BPM, others go with workflow software.

How to Pick the Right BPMS for Your Business [2 Must-Have Features]

With most BPM solutions on the market, you only get one shot.

Most software solutions in the industry are extremely expensive, especially the ones aimed at enterprise customers. The average BPMS comes with a price tag in the range of $100,000 to $600,000 and takes 3 to 6 months to set up.

So, if you commit to any given provider, chances are that you’re going to be stuck with them for a while.

This can be especially damaging if you fail to get your employees to use the platform. You’ll end up spending 6-figures on a piece of software that sort of just sits there.

So, how do you pick the right type of software? Preferably the type that won’t cost you an arm and a leg?

You should be on the lookout for these 2 turn-key features…

Easy Setup

As we’ve mentioned before, most BPM solutions are hard and time-consuming to setup. This, however, doesn’t apply to every single piece of software.

Cloud-based bpm solutions don’t need any setup – all you have to do is register online and start using it there and then. These systems are relatively cheap, to boot, with the price ranging from $15 – $30 per user per month.

You’re probably wondering, why’s there such a discrepancy in pricing? How can one software cost around $1,000, and another $100,000?

Well, the answer is that the latter software is simply outdated. Most older BPM solutions are on-site. Meaning, they have to be installed on your own local server and manually integrated with all the other systems you use.

This costs a lot of man-hours. A team of highly-skilled engineers has to work on all this, and as you probably already know, experienced engineers don’t come cheap.

Putting BPM on the cloud solves this problem. Instead of having to go through all the hassle of setup, all you have to do is just register and get all your employees onboard.

No-Code Process Modeling

In today’s world, to get the most out of any given software, it should be as user-friendly as possible.

Meaning, your employees shouldn’t need a lot of technical know-how to operate it.

With most BPMS solutions, however, this isn’t the case. While they’re easy to use for individual employees (they basically just get a dashboard of tasks), it’s borderline impossible for the management.

To create your own processes, you’d need help from specialized engineers. I.e. instead of department supervisor being able to create the process, they’d have to coordinate with a developer for them to set it up.

For a company with a handful of processes, this wouldn’t be too much of a bother. For enterprises with 1,000 employees, though, it can be quite expensive. After all, you’re going to eventually need to make changes and improvements to each and every process.

Certain BPM solutions, however, are armed with a no-code process builder. This means that just about anyone can use the software to create processes without developer help, from shop-floor employees to C-suite management.

  To learn more about what features set certain BPM solutions apart from the rest, check out our guide. If you want to skip ahead and pick a tool, read on!

Top 5 BPM Tools – A Comparison

Want to start using BPM software, but not sure which tool to pick? We don’t blame you! There’s a lot of them on the market. These 5, though, are some of our favorites!

TallyfyAppianNintexIBM BlueWorks LiveBizagi
Popular WithSMBs, Mid-Large CompaniesEnterprisesSMBs, EnterpriseEnterpriseSMBs, Enterprise
Process DesignWeb-Based Drag & DropBPMN2Web-Based Drag & DropBPMN2Bizagi BPMN Modeler
UsabilityIntuitive, No Training RequiredOn-Site Training TeamsRemote & On-Site Training ProvidersOnline CoursesRemote & On-Site Training. Online Courses
InstallationCloud-Based. Instant RegistrationCloud-Based + On-Site. Registration RequestCloud-Based + On-Site. Registration RequestCloud-Based + On-SiteCloud-Based + On-Site
IntegrationsOpen REST API & 3rd Party Integration Through ZapierManual (Through Appian Engineers)With Specific Software SolutionsOpen REST APIWith Specific Software Solutions
Monthly Pricing15 – 30 USD / User90 – 180 USD / UserQuote-BasedQuote-BasedQuote-Based. 800+ USD / User
  For a more in-depth look at the different BPM tools, check out our comparison guide.

Getting Started With Process Management Software

If you’ve already picked the solution provider, it’s time to start implementing it. Here’s the exact process you need to go through in order to get everyone onboard…

  1. Setup the process templates. For this step, you need the help of department leads and software engineers (if you opted for one of the older BPM providers). Create detailed process flowcharts with the help of department leads, hand them over to the engineers, and they’ll handle the rest. If you went for a no-code BPM or workflow software, though, you can create the templates yourself without any outside help.
  2. Create employee accounts and setup privileges. As a given, anyone that participates in any given process should have access to the system. You should, however, limit their user privileges. Shop floor employees should only be able to participate in the processes, without the power to make any changes.
  3. Automate whatever you can. Create integrations with all the other tools you use to minimize menial work for your employees.
  4. Track and analyze processes. Measure metrics on the go and compare them to your benchmarks. Whenever you find inefficiencies, move on to step #5.
  5. Continuously improve your processes. Process improvement is, after all, the main benefit of BPM software. Even if something is performing well, there’s always some room for improvement. Constantly strive towards carrying out process improvement initiatives, ensuring your organization is operating at maximum efficiency.

Once you’ve set up the software & got everyone on board to use the software, congratulations! Adopting BPM software isn’t the easiest of tasks. At this stage, as long as you continue analyzing and optimizing your processes, you’ll soon see significant improvements on your business’s bottom line.

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