Vaporise your BPM to the cloud

Written by Alan Ingram on Friday, 06 September 2013. Posted in Business process management, Workflow automation, Cloud hosting

Moving IT services to the cloud has entered the mainstream and become the preferred platform for many forward thinking organisations - but you probably already knew that?

However, did you know that, according to Gartner, 40% of organisations with BPM software initiatives used cloud computing last year to support at least 10% of their processes?

Perhaps now is the perfect time for organisations to review BPM activity and consider the move to a cloud based platform. So much is written about BPM and the cloud, especially the latter in its capacity as the latest technology buzzword, that their actual definitions have become somewhat cloudy!

Let’s take a closer look. Firstly, what is BPM?

An organisational methodology

Business Process Management (BPM) is often considered just a more contemporary way of saying “Workflow” and much of the time this is exactly what the orator means when they use the term.  However, its true intention is to be a methodology with which to run an organisation, a methodology whereby traditional hierarchies of staff and departments are de-focused in favour of structuring an organisation and its planning around the business processes essential to its operation.  Therefore the individual processes become the focus, not the organisation itself.  This doesn’t just mean the step-by-step planning and mapping of a process to resources, although this is often the main part, but also the inputs, outputs and measurements of this process in action.  This helps provide immediate wins such as increased efficiency, quicker completion of processes and improved visibility with longer term benefits through continual process improvement too.

The pragmatist’s view

Now that is great; BPM offers the most if you have the time and resources to implement BPM as an organisational methodology rather than as a reaction to a business need.  However, many of the people we speak to on a daily basis are forced to take a more pragmatic approach as they need to resolve an existing process weakness or optimise a forthcoming development within their department or area of responsibility.  In these cases, BPM does often just mean “Workflow” with bells and whistles for things like reporting, compliance, document management and auditing.  The aim in these cases is to map out a single (or few) processes and deploy them as quickly as possible within an automated IT infrastructure that improves accessibility, notifications, traceability, data integration and robustness.

Both of these uses of BPM can be worthwhile and rewarding. The planned, structured approach for long term benefits, or the need for instant workflow deployment to meet real-life demands.

So that is two equally relevant interpretations of BPM but what about the cloud?

The cloud

We probably don’t need to explain this in too much detail other than to say it is moving your software and services into someone else’s data centre, so you can still get all the benefits without having to worry about their actual physical location or resources.  The only IT infrastructure you still need to worry about is ensuring a suitable internet connection; everything else is handled by your cloud provider.

One of the main benefits is the pricing flexibility; generally for software there are four purchasing plans commonly offered: the first two are the traditional purchase of a software license to install and operate on-premise, in either per-user or per-CPU models. The other two are the cloud options; either a hybrid whereby you purchase a dedicated server license but have it cloud hosted and managed or the true cloud plan of paying per user, per month with little or no initial capital outlay.

Which you choose depends on your organisation, processes, users, budgets and plans for the future. It may be that the simplicity of buying a license, having some training and managing your entire platform thereafter will offer the best value in the long term. However for many organisations the priorities are cost, speed-of-deployment and on-going flexibility, in which case the cloud is a very persuasive option.

In the next post, we’ll investigate why they make the perfect couple.

If you want to find out more about our BPM and data capture solutions, or wish to book a demonstration, please contact us.

About the Author

Alan Ingram

Alan Ingram

Alan is responsible for the strategic direction of ePC’s technical services and managing relationships with key client accounts.