BPMS Selection – A fool with a tool is still a fool

Pity the fools

How do you evaluate a BPM product ? There’s lots of various critera to choose from in an attempt to assess just how good the vendor and his amazing tool is. For instance, where is it placed in the Magic Quadrant ?  After all, the hard work in gathering requirements and scoring has been done for you, you might as well stick a pin into the little square and pick one based on that report….

Scoring criteria is critical in choosing the right one for your business:

  • Product direction
  • Architecture and integration
  • Workflow capabilities, case management functionality
  • Simulation
  • BPMN standards
  • Modeling environment
  • KPI analysis and reporting
  • User experience
  • Colorful packaging

Ok, the last one is a joke. But you might as well score it for all the good the rest will do you. Why ? Because you’ve missed out the most important criteria of all. Your capability.

As always, the process maturity of the organization, its capabilities and its understanding of BPM is never taken into account, it’s always seen as an IT driven initiative. All the time I get questions about ROI. Give me numbers people ask. Give me strength I reply. Vendors love this and play on ignorance, you’ll be sold the Ferrari when all you wanted was a Mini. Ah, but the Ferrari is future-proofed, it’ll go faster, has lots of gears and shinier wheels. Shame that you’ll run out of petrol before you reach the local shop for the pint of milk then.

Always consider just how much of a process culture you have within your organization before you invite sharks to the table. You really have no excuse not to measure your business capabilities and understanding of BPM. There are a number of frameworks out there that you can loosely benchmark where you are.

  • If all your processes are written on PowerPoint slides do you really think you’re ready for automated workflow and simulation ?
  • If your business analysts are entrenched in the business and have only business knowledge are they capable enough of understanding how to configure a BPMS and its rules engine without initiating an IT project ?

Shift all your criteria down by one and add Maturity as your highest priority. Don’t confuse ambition with understanding.

But go ahead, ignore this advice, evaluate the vendor, pick your tool, watch it fail and wonder why when all the numbers stacked up on the business case…..because a fool with a tool is still a fool. 

And I won’t waste my time pitying you.


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