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In the past, businesses were said to run on paper. Today, they run on data and that data is usually juggled, herded, curated, and organized by business process management (BPM) software.
BPM tools help organizations create, execute, optimize, and monitor business processes. There are dozens of tools that fall into this category, including homegrown systems built by the local IT staff. Since those early inhouse iterations, BPM systems have evolved into excellent full-fleged platforms for tracking and fine-tuning everything that happens inside an organization, complete with a wide variety of interfaces for working with other standard enterprise systems such as accounting software or assembly line management systems. Because of this, BPM tools can be conceived of as a nexus that sucks in data from an array of business applications, tracking everything that happens in a given business process — what some have come to describe as “building a digital twin.”
Good BPM packages also make it simple for each layer in the organization to follow the work flowing through their desk. Dashboards help users plan their tasks and avoid falling behind. They also make it simpler for managers to organize large teams.
Many of the systems offer low-code or no-code options so anyone in the organization can fiddle with the business logic. These usually involve drag-and-drop interfaces that simplify the task of linking together pre-built routines. Some systems also use a mechanism called “process discovery” to watch the use of existing digital software and make it simpler with the addition of automated routines.
Some of these low-code or no-code enhancements enable people with no formal programming training to use BPM tools successfully. Others still require users to think like programmers even when using a drag-and-drop interface to simplify the building of routines. In any case, many organizations will need a programmer to smooth over some of the small hurdles and roadblocks that come with connecting the BPM to every part of the current stack.
There are a wide variety of pricing plans for the BPM systems. Some offer multiple tiers, including some free options. Others charge by user or node. Many use a sales team to create a custom price.
Open-source options are also available for use by companies that have the developers to support them. They’re rarely as sophisticated or as well-documented as the commercial products listed here, but they can be effective for smaller organizations that crave independence.
Following are 16 of the top BPM tools available today, in alphabetical order. The marketplace is wide and there are more options than ever for capturing and tracking all the activity that falls beneath the metaphorical roof of the enterprise.
Many common chores for running a business are available out-of-the-box with Agiloft’s platform. The legal department can use contract tracking software. The help desk can follow trouble tickets. Many of the standard workflows are ready to run either on-premises or hosted in Agiloft’s cloud. Some areas are already using artificial intelligence to speed up workflows through automated classification and clause extraction.
The low-code platform from Appian is designed to help businesses create workflows that capture the decision-making process for their company. At the beginning, sophisticated process-mining tools can analyze current dataflows and speed them up. Over time, casual developers can use the low-code functionality to update the process and incorporate new data feeds. Some may want to use artificial intelligence options such as optical character recognition because Appian deploys capabilities akin to robotic process automation.
The low-code platform from Arrayworks is designed to smooth and often automate the creation of a digital twin of an existing business process. Its system, called the Transformation Acceleration Platform, is designed to capture all types of workflows, but Arrayworks maintains a particular focus on insurance automation. Its Connected Insurance system offers customized workflows to speed up all aspects of insurance.
The goal of AuraQuantic’s business processing modeler is to offer a no-code solution so users of all skill levels can draw workflows that will automatically carry documents and data. Formerly known as AuraPortal, the company has been developing the tool set for more than 20 years. The latest version offers a combination of extensive security using flexible contextual encryption, a sophisticated rules engine for building the business model, and an analytics engine for tracking how the business is performing.
Mainline business professions like those running the supply chain are some of the first to use Bizagi to automate many of the workflows tracking how parts and goods move toward manufacturing. Tools such as the no-code process modeler called Studio, however, can track all forms of business events, offering more than 60 widgets that can be strung together to model any business process. The company also highlights how its tool actively supports compliance with regulations for privacy.
The open-source software from Bonitasoft begins with process mining and AI to turn legacy software into modern workflows. New business processes can be created with Bonitasoft’s low-code tool and then be deployed directly to the Bonita Cloud where they will run efficiently with the microservice architecture. The company emphasizes the various ways that its platform can be extended with open-source connectors, widgets services, and filters to simplify the adoption process.
Many highly regulated industries such as healthcare or financial services turn to BP Logix’s low-code development platform called Process Director to build web applications that track workflow. Its platform is already optimized for jobs such as case tracking, and compliance management is part of the model. Some basic AI routines can simplify decision-making by modeling how all the available information affects process completion.
Business Process Manager from IBM comes in two flavors: Express, which is simpler and less-expensive, and the full version. Both use the low-code Process Designer and the Operational Decision Manager to design a path for information through the Process Portal. The code can run locally or in the IBM Cloud and there are extensive opportunities for integrating the software with other IBM applications such as IBM Blueworks, a process mapping solution.
The low-code Digital Transformation Platform from Newgen is aimed at content-driven business needs such as tracking invoices, facilitating account creation, and other paperwork. The visual coding solution also supports various AI algorithms for automating some decisions. The platform also includes an Omnichannel Customer Engagement system for tracking the performance of marketing programs.
The tools at Nintex automate business processes in two ways. First, the drag-and-drop Promapp enables teams to collaborate on modeling workflows. Second, an extensive collection of automation options can reduce the need for manual intervention through a trained classification routine and other AI algorithms. Remote Process Automation bots can work alongside humans to keep the work queues moving. Nintex is available in two tiers, standard and enterprise, which includes many of the RPA extras.
At its heart, OpenText is a content management company that offers business process management tools in the same stack. The low-code tool called AppWorks can add more advanced workflows with the content management to track decisions across the enterprise. The OpenText Advanced Media Orchestration adds tools for managing digital assets for both internal documentation and external marketing. The Magelllan AI suite offers the ability to add analysis and conversion routines to the pipeline to help automate classification and decision making.
The Business Process Management Suite from Oracle offers a wide range of tools for tracking cases, events, and tasks across a large enterprise. Many standard configurations out-of-the-box are provided as a start before using the drag-and-drop Business Process Composer. Oracle’s products include full integration with both predictive analytics using Oracle R as well as a visual presentation layer that builds useful dashboards.
The low-code business process management tools from Pega are part of a larger constellation of tools that include customer engagement portals, workplace intelligence, reporting, and compliance management. All work together to track workflow and case management across the enterprise. The integration with customer engagement and customer management extends the reach of the system to include outsiders as well as employees. All become stakeholders in managing the process.
Many companies rely on SAP to manage their supply chain and warehouses. The business process management options work well with tasks involving these environments, but they can be applied to almost any job. A big feature is a sophisticated reporting system for creating process intelligence so that bottlenecks and backups can be diagnosed quickly. The latest versions include more automation to simplify robotic process automation and to eliminate the extra chores for human managers.
The ARIS Enterprise tool is also part of a larger product line from Software AG for delivering business intelligence and software while also managing IoT devices. The work begins when the software learns existing mechanisms through process mining. Then the low-code and no-code options enable users to evolve the business model over time while tracking the workflow and tracking business success. ARIS is available in two levels, Basic and Enterprise.
The larger product line from TIBCO handles many different IT chores such as cloud integration, messaging, and supply chain management. The Process Automation part of the stack tracks business events while supporting the workflow, when possible, with automated management and reporting. The Cloud Nimbus tool is the main path for creating diagrams that capture and communicate the steps in a business process.
Peter Wayner is the author of more than 16 books on diverse topics, including open source software (“Free for All”), autonomous cars (“Future Ride”), privacy-enhanced computation (“Translucent Databases”), digital transactions (“Digital Cash”), and steganography (“Disappearing Cryptography”).
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Top 16 business process management tools – CIO
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