If you’ve been around for as long as I have, you already know that improving business processes isn’t a new goal in the corporate world (the ghost of Michael Hammer still stalks the corridors of my mind!). You’ll also know that the field of Business Process Management (BPM) has long proven to be more than just a “nice to have” capability for the largest enterprises, but has become a strategic imperative for companies of all sizes looking to deliver huge gains in terms of process efficiency, productivity, control, and agility.

But the truth is that achieving the desired business benefits is not enough. What is the metric that ultimately measures the success or failure of any project? The Return on Investment (ROI) of course. As a business or IT manager deciding on the acquisition of the most suitable BPM technology solution for your organization, you are responsible for guaranteeing a positive impact on the operation. You need, therefore, to ensure that the cost of your investment is just as highly optimized as your focus on delivering the benefits.

So what does that mean in human language? It means making a complete and detailed evaluation of each and every one of the factors that could affect the cost of deploying and running your solution – from the short to the long term. It means putting all the necessary questions to your short-listed technology vendors in order to visualize and quantify all future scenarios and needs. It means making a thorough cost-benefit analysis and building a detailed business case framework to support your ultimate decision-making process. It means doing things right.

Looking back several years, a large number of the more aggressive BPM projects enabled by the larger technology suite providers have failed to provide sustained bottom-line benefits due to an initial inability to build this accurate business case – perhaps through lack of information or lack of visibility of true cost drivers to the internal evaluation team. Why this common challenge? First, it is clearly impossible to make effective value judgements for the next 5-10 years if you fail to grasp some of the factors that contribute to the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Second, some vendors can’t (or won’t) reveal vital facts that impact total ownership costs. This is not good enough.

Successful BPM business case are built with transparent success criteria and “real world” factors in mind that go beyond simple software acquisition and implementation costs. To help shine a light on the most common cost drivers behind BPM investments, we outlined 9 key factors in our recently published whitepaper and will explore some of them over this and coming blog posts… starting with (in no particular order) “functionality“:

 

9 factors to minimize BPM investment

 

#1 Functionality

The first key factor influencing the total cost of your BPM investment is Functionality. Today there are multiple BPM solutions out there in the market which seem on 1st pass to provide the same functionality, so choosing that BPM ‘partner for life’ is not an easy task. A lot of research needs to be done in order to understand whether the option that looks like the best fit today, will also have the functional capabilities to grow, adapt and evolve along with your organization’s needs in the future.

Business goals, processes, requirements, priorities, let’s face it, they all change with time, at any organization, big or small. Change itself is constant, and speed of change is increasing almost exponentially on our digital world. Your mission? To find that BPM solution (and vendor) that is aligned with the latest industry and technological trends to help keep your platform current and fit for purpose. You can start by comparing out-of-the-box functionality; is Reporting and Analytics included as part of the solution or do you need to plug in an additional tool for this purpose? Are the process apps created with your BPM mobile-ready? Ideally you would like to avoid additional customization costs that have plagued BPM programs with the larger ERP vendor offerings.

In addition, check the historic and future roadmap of the solution – is there a proof of continuous and seamless innovation? Is the vendor laser-focused on customer-driven BPM functional innovations with real-world application? Will you have access to the new features and product enhancements without upgrade costs? And, most important, is the functional capability and development plan for the platform focused on ensuring your team can deliver new and continually improving processes to the business with the highest ease of use, the least need for coding, and the most rapid time to value.

At the end you want to choose the BPM solution that offers functionality that not only meets but exceeds your business requirements, and that does so with a focus on ensuring minimized initial and ongoing cost to your business. So go the extra mile, do your homework and ensure your evaluation focuses not just on functionality that drives benefits, but also functionality that drives cost of ownership down!

To learn more about the 9 key cost factors that help minimize your BPM investment and build a compelling BPM business case, DOWNLOAD OUR WHITEPAPER and watch this space for upcoming blog posts and resources to help you and your teams.