Recently I talked about BPM's ability to pull together data from a variety of sources, including those big-dollar software suites with the famous acronyms: CRM, ERP, HRIS, and so forth. As exciting as it is that BPM software can tie these systems into everyday business processes, the thought does beg the question: does this mean we have to buy another big-ticket BPM software suite?
No. At least, not usually.
The truth is, it depends on the type of business you're in, and the type of problem you're trying to solve. You can certainly find seven-figure BPM solutions in the marketplace, and a few large enterprises may well need them. High-end BPM suites are often tied to other expensive products by the same vendor, such as complex event processing (CEP) systems. If your enterprise needs those specialized solutions, and requires the high level of workflow application and/or BPM application integration promised by the vendors that package them with equally expensive BPM products, then get ready to sign a big PO.
In virtually all other organizations, though (and even at the departmental or divisional level within those large enterprises), it makes sense to choose a more modest BPM solution. Large BPM products, like those other big software suites, are usually deployed top-down through the organization. Because they are meant to tackle highly visible, strategic processes, it will sometimes be the case that divisional, departmental, or routine processes are starved for attention. Right-sized BPM solutions can be deployed tactically, at little expense, to address those challenges efficiently.
Indeed, I am familiar with more than one customer whose enterprise has designated an "official" strategic BPM solution, but whose department is facing significant challenges that cannot be addressed in a timely fashion by that system. So, the customer selects and deploys a tactical BPM product, one that flies under the budget radar and is configured and deployed using a minimum of corporate resources. As a result, the department is able to meet its goals, efficiently and flexibly, without sparking conflict at the enterprise level. Isn't that what business process management (BPM) is all about?