Will the new Visio and Sharepoint 2010 releases provide low cost BPM ?

It’s been an interesting week listening to vendors who are aligned to Microsoft’s strategies and technologies and there’s a definite pattern forming; Visio 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 are providing a springboard platform for BPM vendors to capture interest from a very large and untapped market. I say untapped because the normal go to market strategy is to wrestle users away from Visio and into another solution, offering import integration. But I think they’ve been missing the point. Casewise offer a Visio ‘bridge’, essentially Visio is the front end they provide the repository back end so organisations still get to use the familiarity of the Visio interface with the added benefit of a repository database. Orbus Software have provided this for a number of years too. But both are going to face increasing competition not only from other vendors looking to capitalise on Visio 2010’s new features but also from Microsoft itself.

There is around 4 million users of Visio who are ‘process focused’ according to research, that’s a large user base to target. On top of this there’s the significant investment in process mapping already documented using Visio in it’s various incarnations. Why would you want to spend time either remodelling or importing swathes of saved files into another tool ?

Visio 2010 Premium has some very nice new features, such as self healing connectors, auto alignment of shapes and automatic BPMN validation. You can now switch between horizontal and vertical process views and even the pages are self healing (ie, before you were restricted by drawing canvas size, now it automatically adjusts as you increase the size of your process model)

Moving onto Sharepoint 2010 and there’s now tight integration with Visio. Visio will now publish to Sharepoint and you can create a pseudo process repository in a more robust fashion, email process maps and share from the one platform. This presents some interesting question: If you have Visio and Sharepoint already and your BPM maturity is low then why invest significant amounts of money in expensive solutions when upgrading to the 2010 releases could provide you with what you need ?

This could prove a hurdle for vendors targeting organisations with Microsoft platforms and licences already installed looking for a low cost entry into the BPM space. But it could also provide an opportunity for those leveraging those technologies as part of their product strategy in the next 2 years to grab pickings from a very large market.

Global360, K2, Orbus, Singularity….even Microsoft itself…..are you listening ?

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6 responses to “Will the new Visio and Sharepoint 2010 releases provide low cost BPM ?

  1. No such thing as a free lunch. Open Source is not free – that’s why RedHat made $400m last year. So ‘cheap process modeling’ does not work either. Which is why the debate on the BPM Guru LinkedIn group "Documenting end-to-end organizational processes" is so worrying. Everyone is pitching in with their free/cheap diagramming tool.People focusing on cheapest process modelling are missing the point. If you simply want to document processesthen use a pen and paper/whiteboard. Cheap. Simple. Hey if you want to record it digitally, take a photo with your phone.BUT. If you want to use the process model to either i) educate, train your teams and transform your workforce behavior or ii) build better IT systems then this talk of VISIO is a cheap solution NEEDS TO STOP. Why? Because you need to add the time & cost associated with – maintaining the models- keeping the diagrams consistent (terminology, resources, intra-diagram links)- creating some database for version control- manually providing some form of sign-off / workflow- then creating views from the diagrams that end users will even look at….. and the list goes on

  2. I’m sorry but talk of integrating Visio with Sharepoint and calling it a low cost BPM solution is laughable.Microsoft have been trying to crack the BPM market with various attempts at BPM for years – Outlook Forms, Infopath, BizTalk add-ons etc.MS should stick to what they do best – building bloated, bug ridden and constantly security compromised windows applications.Visio is not BPM and its a stretch to call it a BPA tool. Being able to store Visio models in a Sharepoint repository brings absolutely nothing to the BPM table. At the end of the day you still end up with a diagram.BPM is typically about using a model driven development tool to rapidly capture and refine real business processes and then be able to deploy them to a runtime server container as a real application easily available and utlized by business users.If you want an example of a tool like this download a free one here:http://developer.tibco.com/business_studio/default.jsp

  3. Mark, not surprised to see a rant against Visio from a TIBCO guy, but before passing too much judgement, you should take a look at what Microsoft is delivering in their 2010 release of Visio and SharePoint more closely. Though one could aruge that MS was not trying hard enough in previous releases to support BPM/BPA initiaitives in Visio, there are nearly 4 million business analysts using Visio today for process modeling…significantly more than any other platform. Although you may not be personally impressed with the improvements, I can see about 4 million smiles coming when 2010 releases. To make the point even stronger, we shared a demo of Visio 2010 and our analystView plug-in to an major BPM industry influencer last week. After hearing for an hour about how Microsoft has misunderstood this market in the past, within three minutes of seeing the 2010 version, he wanted to buy it for himself! No kidding.

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