Tuesday, October 16, 2007

BPM or ERP - Stand out from the crowd

There are many times I've heard about BPM being described as the panacea to almost every type of business problem. Much in the same way that SAP (or Oracle) would describe ERP as being the true way of implementing solutions to your organization's specific problems. Unfortunately to me this seems like an "all or everything" situation. All business problems that SAP has ever bothered to consider valuable are covered in its ERP. Everything that ever needed process automation that you couldn't justify using SAP for can be implemented using BPM.

It seems to me that there is a whole lot of business problems that are best solved by ERP just because everyone else does. Any business process that requires industry best-practices to be replicated across the board, or application that offer your organization little differentiation are just these. ERP has these coded straight out of the box, so why bother reworking them using BPM for your organization? If these represent good learning processes to achieving BPM excellence, or you have BPM expertise and technology in house already, perfect! Otherwise, BPM is far better for processes you want to differentiate.

Now imagine that you run a business unit of an insurance company. Does your claims process really differentiate from the competition, or is it really the speed in which you pay, or the customer services that support the process that are really different? This is where BPM wins, even though ERP or boxed software could run the same process. Process optimization provided by the best BPM suites provides the analysis of process information and opportunity to improve performance based on real-time business metrics that a restrictive ERP concentrated purely on business data can not. Case management based BPM provides the contextual view of data across many systems that can make customer services really differentiate your service.

ERP and BPM both offer good solutions, often for the same problems. Pick the right solution for the right application - and when it matters, stand out from the crowd and do something different using a BPM based enterprise application platform.

Technorati tags: Financial Services Technology New Account Opening BPM ERP

A post from the Improving New Account Opening blog


James Taylor said...

Nice post - see a response here
The Smart (Enough) Systems blog
My ebizQ blog
Author of Smart (Enough) Systems

Phil Ayres said...


Good response. It looks like we are in agreement that a fixed and common process is not such a bad thing. You tout automated decision services and I tout case management to support knowledge workers and process optimization to work smarter. How about we join forces to ensure the best of both worlds?

I'm sure many organizations are trying to make sure that their real knowledge workers use their brainpower on meaningful exceptions, rather than repetitive decisions that could be better made by a business rules engine. Can ERP do that?... Possibly - but at what cost?