Businesses cope with manual, repetitive tasks to get the job done. Email, conference calls, and "walking the cubes" are too frequently the process for requesting information, getting approvals, and checking project status. Time and resources are wasted, errors abound, and everyone is less productive.
Automating these everyday business processes is the way to improve productivity and gain efficiency. Traditional Business Process Management (BPM) systems can provide a solution, but the cost and complexity to implement simple processes is often too expensive for many business units.
Lean BPM delivers a pragmatic approach to process management. Your organization can't afford high cost, multi-year projects to meet current market and budget demands. You need a solution that will reduce costs and streamline processes while still meeting business and regulatory needs. And you need it now, not months or years from now.
Get lean, trim the bloat of traditional development, and get your processes online quickly. A Lean BPM solution will help you design and deploy collaborative applications at a fraction of the cost of traditional BPM systems. In order to accomplish that, there are 3 things you need to look for. Here are the key tenets of a Lean BPM solution. As you look for tools to support your Lean BPM projects, you need a solution that provides
1. Simple Development: so your teams can design collaborative applications without expensive coding resources and long project timelines.
2. Easy Deployment: so your teams can publish and run your applications without costly infrastructure.
3. Full Governance: so you can grant your teams permission to innovate without sacrificing security and control.
SIMPLE DEVELOPMENT -- Whether your teams are doing conference room pilots or need to get a new application online quickly, a solution for Lean BPM needs to make it simple to design processes. In fact, the best Lean BPM solutions make it possible to design and deploy collaborative applications without programming skills. If a user can draw a process in PowerPoint or is comfortable with Excel macros, then he can build your own process-based applications. No need for coders or consultants.
For simple and quick development, here are some of the key features to look for in a Lean BPM solution.
Visual Designer. From defining business processes to customizing user interfaces, a visual designer allows users to drag-and-drop items from a palette directly into an application. If a business analyst can create a process flow in Visio, then she can design a new process-based application with a Lean BPM solution.
Connect Systems without Coding. Web services. BPEL. SOA-based integrations. Get it all--without coding or expensive consultants. With a Lean BPM solution it is possible to connect processes to existing applications, just by dragging and dropping. This means you take advantage of Web services and BPEL under the covers, but your business analysts don't need to know a lick about writing a WSDL. Your teams connect to back-end systems without the headache of cranking through code or managing the consultants to do it for you.
No Programmers Required. Today, development tools for automating business processes are complex. Sure, they all make it easy to draw a process diagram but try defining rules, designing user interfaces and linking systems together. It's a nightmare. Worse, every little enhancement must be an "IT project" accompanied by an army of programmers. Lean BPM offers a better way. A good solution for Lean BPM makes it possible for part-time techies, like business analysts, to design business process, define business rules, and create user interfaces.
Design Web 2.0 Interfaces. Your users are used to using slick looking applications at home, things like Facebook, Picassa, Google Maps--so why not give them the same type of cool interfaces at work? Now you can. A good Lean BPM solution brings Web 2.0 to the old, dowdy interfaces of yesterday. Now it's simple to construct great looking applications that include widgets like RSS feeds, Flash components, Google Gadgets and more.
Import Pre-Built Templates. Why build when you can borrow? Sure, a good Lean BPM solution makes it easy to build custom applications, but it should also provide a starting point. Make sure the Lean BPM solutions your organization evaluates offers process templates. These templates can be used as-is, or they can be tweaked to fit the needs of your organization.
EASY DEPLOYMENT -- Whether you publish and run your collaborative applications on site or in the cloud, a Lean BPM solution makes it easy to deploy your applications.
Here are some of the key capabilities you'll need to find in a Lean BPM solution in order to make is a snap to get your new applications online.
One Integrated Server, No Extras Needed. Regardless of whether your applications have human workflows, user interfaces, business rules or system connections you want the same, integrated deployment platform. You should never need to buy optional extras, or install and manage separate special purpose, un-integrated servers for each function. When you find a Lean BPM solution with one integrated server, that means less hardware, less administration, and less money.
Get Online Faster. Maybe it only takes a few weeks to get a server deployed in your data center. Maybe it takes months. If you don't want to wait AND take the hit on your expense line up front, look for a Lean BPM solution that offers an on demand option so you can run your applications in the cloud. With a cloud solution there's no hardware to buy and no administrators to pay--ever.
The Next Application, One Click Away. With a Lean BPM solution, your teams should never be more than a click away from deploying the next collaborative application live. Find a Lean BPM solution that lets your teams get the latest application online in just a click. This supports the rapid prototyping and iterative approaches espoused by Lean BPM experts.
FULL GOVERNANCE -- Just because a Lean BPM solution can make it easy to design and deploy your own collaborative applications, it can't happen at the expense of your governance protocols and practices. The top Lean BPM solutions make it possible to empower non-coders to build and deploy applications while ensuring that you take advantage of change management and governance experience. So go ahead, give your teams permission to innovate--a good Lean BPM solution will give you all the governance, reporting, and traceability you need.
Before we go into the key governance capabilities, it's worth noting that there are a couple flavors of governance. When deploying collaborative applications there are two types of governance required: governance of the applications, and governance within the applications. Look for a Lean BPM solution that gives you both capabilities out-of-the-box.
Governance of Collaborative Applications. With full versioning, library services, permissions control, and auditing, you want a system that ensures that you control the landscape of all of the collaborative applications your organization deploys.
Governance Within Collaborative Applicatons. From granular role based security to full traceability and reporting, you want a solution that ensures that the right people see the right information at the right time--no exceptions. Plus, comprehensive auditing will ensure that you keep have detailed histories at your finger tips so you keep auditors happy.
Full Histories, Rich Reporting Every time a user interacts with one of your lean applications, you want a Lean BPM solution that collects every action so you can trace the history of an item from initial request to final closure. With such detailed traceability, you can report across teams, projects, and the entire organization to bubble up the information that you need.
Leading Lean BPM solutions give you a set of powerful reports out-of-the box so you can see real-time data, trending information, and critical risks. They also make it simple to create and customize your own reports so you see the information exactly as you want it, every time.
Auditing Under the Covers. Typically, audits are about as fun as root canals. A good Lean BPM solution makes audits painless. The full histories, rich reporting, and comprehensive traceability of all items makes preparing for an audit simple. This means that you reduce your audit prep times from months to days, and from days to minutes. Keeping you and your auditors happy.
Perfect Visibility, All the Time. Your teams coordinate all sorts of work, projects, and tasks. They use all sorts of applications to get their work done. But that doesn't mean you need to go through oodles of Excel spreadsheets and weeks of email to get an idea of what's going on. There's a better way to get the insight you need. The best solutions for Lean BPM capture all updates, decisions, and actions so you don't have to. You get all this information at your fingertips
SUMMARY -- Lean BPM has emerged as a pragmatic alternative to traditional BPM projects-an alternative that meets productivity needs without the complexity and costs of traditional approaches. As you evaluate tools to help in your Lean BPM efforts, be sure to find a solution that helps you get your processes online quickly without requiring teams of consultants and lengthy implementation timelines. From design to deploy, from conference room pilot to final application, a leading Lean BPM solution helps you trim the bloat of traditional BPM projects so you start improving your business processes fast, and at the fraction of the cost of traditional development projects.
Author: Tim Zonka. Tim Zonca is the Director of Product Marketing for Serena Business Mashups. He has been with Serena for over 5 years, and works exclusively with Serena's Mashup solutions for Lean Business Process Management and Development Process Management.
Serena makes it simple to get business processes online quickly and at a much lower cost compared to traditional BPM systems. Serena has helped businesses build lean business processes for almost 10 years. Called one of the top 3 business applications for 2008 by eWeek, businesses and government agencies, among others, have been using Serena’s Lean BPM solution (called Serena Business Mashups) to reduces their costs, automate their processes, and increase productivity.
Get more information at http://www.serena.com/solutions/business-process-management/.