Businesses rely on the implementation of processes. Cloud-based software provides a way for easy management and alleviates issues companies face trying to improve these processes, particularly when it comes to prototyping and modeling. A question many businesses are trying to address is: How can cloud ensure smooth Business Process Management? The speed of getting started is a huge benefit of bringing cloud technology to BPM.
Typically, BPM-in-the-cloud providers offer this capability “as a Service,” meaning that companies can start with BPM without the need to install and set up the software themselves. The price point to enter BPM through the cloud is usually lower due to the “pay for use” subscription model. Companies can “sample” BPM to see what if it is right for them. Finally, it is easier to orchestrate applications and data that reside in the cloud, so running BPM in the cloud makes processes more efficient.
BPM is converging with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), combining the benefits of application development and process support in an integrated cloud model. It allows companies to build smart process apps that are highly flexible and tailored to serve the end user with a cloud-based solution that eliminates traditional IT/business productivity challenges.
There are three questions to answer when it comes to BPM and the cloud:
- Does a business have data and services in the cloud that processes must work with?
- Does it want to execute processes in the cloud? If so, how does it include existing data and systems that aren’t in the cloud?
- Is cloud really suitable for an organization’s needs today, tomorrow or somewhere in the future?
Clay Richardson from Forrester has spoken about the “mess of many.” Trying to create enterprise-wide business processes across different business units and systems was hard enough when everything was inside an organization. When businesses start to bring in data and systems into the cloud, they very quickly end up with process challenges doubled. Thus the “mess of many” – enterprise processes across on-premise systems as well as applications and software in the cloud.
BPM has always been used to improve business processes within an organization. As businesses move to the cloud it is crucial to maintain these consistent enterprise-wide processes when, for example, a CRM system runs in the cloud but ERP or HR systems run on-premise. This idea of hybrid processes that span across on-premise and cloud is where the majority of companies are right now. This does not mean that there aren’t “cloud-only” processes but this mix of everything is where most companies are at the moment.
A further impact of cloud technology on BPM is the idea of “mash apps.” The concept of “mashing up” process information with other data from both on-premise and the cloud to create process-centric composite applications is becoming as important as the end product for BPM.
The rapid rise of cloud computing and readily available free web-based business applications mean more business users are deploying and using technology solutions without the IT department’s involvement, one of the main attractions of “mash apps.”
Why should companies consider vendors with a cloud proposition instead of traditional on-premise suppliers? The easy answer to this is if a business isn’t sure about BPM then it can try it out in the cloud before making a commitment. Organizations often start in the cloud and then move back into on-premise and vice-versa. This flexibility is important to consider together with the idea of a hybrid model. There has been a noticeable rise in a new approach to a BPM appliance where the whole offering comes “in a box,” often delivered as a cloud-based PaaS.
There are real benefits from cloud and BPM:
- Quick start, no IT hassle and focus on business value
- Pay-as-you go subscription model
- High degree of collaboration such as collaborative modeling
- Orchestration of cloud services
However, to get this benefit it is important that companies ask themselves the right, honest questions. Navigating BPM and the cloud and making the correct, pragmatic choices ensures an organization is future-proofed, can get started quickly and can take the hybrid approach to make sure they aren’t getting themselves into that “mess of many” problem.