Could BPMS eventually replace the need for COTS software ?

An interesting question popped into my head (among other things these days it seems) after watching Interneer in action this week. With the advent of similar suites such as Bonitasoft, Outsystems and Iceberg that allow organisations to build business process based applications directly, and others that offer the same web-based style workflow creation, could these BPMS tools eventually replace the more expensive COTS (Commercially Off The Shelf) software alternatives as they mature ?

So, as an example, I want to launch into the Mortgage market. I need a front end and back end system to handle the application and financial requirements. There are packages out there that handle both, but will require some tweaking to fulfil whatever competitive advantage I want to seek over my competitors and that costs money. So does taking a similar loan-based solution and tweaking it heavily to fit the Mortgage use case. In fact, I might buy this OTS software and deploy out of the box but only use 75% of the functionality it offers, or find that I need to strip out a large proportion of redundant screens and workflow I don’t need, so potentially wasting my investment for a start.

And this is where these business process application based tools can come into play and potentially steal a bit of limelight. Because if they live up to their marketing and truly offer rapid ways for a business to create and deploy real applications and workflows with the necessary connectors to back-end systems, and I can create the application to exactly fit my business scenario with all the competitive and bespoke advantages I want to create, then why should I look to the fixed solution at all ? Plus look at the additional benefits; workflow for other processes, modelling/ repository environments, BAM, reporting….starts to stack up a little more.

It’s a simplistic picture I’m painting here but it boils down to the old question faced by organisations every day: Build or Buy.

Only now, with these new tools popping on the BPM radar, building might not be as onerous, time consuming or expensive as before and a real alternative exists.


One response to “Could BPMS eventually replace the need for COTS software ?

  1. My experience shows that the right use of BPM (which comprises discipline, BPMS and the architecture) actually reduces the needs for customizing COTS products thus making them very attractive. One of my architecture principles is “Avoid modification of shrink-wrapped commercial or freely available software”:<quote ref=”my book”>As a rule, do not modify any building block that you don’t control. This means that, by preference, use unchanged any shrink-wrapped (or off-the-shelf) commercial software product and any freely available (or open source) product. If you need to carry out any form of customisation, remember that a good BPM system can help you to adhere to the following principle: implement a business process around the product in order to complement it with your business logic.</quote>Thanks,AS

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