Workflow Management Solutions: Off-the-Shelf Vs. Custom Development

Posted by Chris Fisher on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 08:29 AM

 

Many business are considering a workflow management system for their internal processes. The paperwork and emails are no longer manageable and with compliance and competitors to deal with, organizations are at a critical mass point in time, having to automate business processes. So the research begins on Google, and the amount of products is overwhelming. There are enterprise solutions, custom built apps, off-the-shelf software, and just about anything in between. But what is best, and what provides the most effective cost savings?

For the Fortune 500, most go with an enterprise solution that is built to spec. For mid-market organizations there are more choices. Many use off-the-shelf solutions for different departments. Some use custom built solutions and others like to configure drag and drop solutions themselves. This is a cost effective choice, as it doesn’t require programming. The key is to find out what the use-case is, determine if will it need to be changed or evolve with the business in the future, and what level of customization is needed for the software to be effective. This is probably the most confusing part of choosing a software provider for workflow management, forms automation, or document management. In considering budget and pricing off-the-shelf is cheaper, but will that translate to cost savings in the future?

Off-the-shelf software is a great choice as an immediate fix that will probably do 75% of what is needed.  But this is merely a Band-Aid in many cases as the 25% that remains will need to be customized for the organization to realize the full potential of the process. Spending a small percentage more on a drag and drop platform that users can configure themselves is a better choice, if there is staff on hand that has the time to build. The benefit here is that the workflow can be configured to the organizations exact specs because the specs are best known by the staff that will configure. And with this intimate knowledge of the internal process, evolution is possible and greater efficiencies are created. There are similarities on every organizational workflow, but as a rule no two are alike.

Probably the quickest solution would be a custom built platform configured by experts in the industry. Intellect’s Accelerate Platform and Professional Services Team can build very complex systems in a short amount of time. The cost is certainly more than an off-the-shelf product, or even and drag and drop solution, but the speed in delivery is often the deciding factor.  Most systems can be built, tested and launched in less than 60 days and changes are made as the organization evolves and grows. With these modern systems, expect them to be mobile ready, cloud based, and user friendly with an immediately recognized time savings. ROI’s are often realized within 6 months to 1 year.

In conclusion, when researching a workflow management system here’s a rule of thumb; off-the-shelf is an affordable quick fix, drag and drop is fully customizable and a bit pricier, and custom built is the best choice for speed, accuracy and delivery. If one considers the full life cycle of a custom built solution, the cost and time savings and efficiencies gained will outweigh any other product.

If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

Tags: BPM, Workflow Managment, SaaS, Cloud, Workflow Process Management, workflow automation

So Long Mobile Websites, Say Hello to More Mobile Apps.

Posted by Zaira Hernandez on Mon, Apr 01, 2013 @ 09:55 AM

Tablets and smartphones make our lives easier. They are compact and allow more flexibility in the business world, where our professional and personal lives demand having access to any of our business tasks and data on the go. But let’s think further, flexibility to access the web and other software programs has become a necessity rather than an option. Many of us can’t even imagine what our lives would be like without access to the internet on a daily basis.

Mobile websites started a trend that has revolutionized how customers share and process information. However, just like any other invention, mobile websites are now losing popularity as mobile apps become more popular and available in the market.

How popular have these new mobile Apps become? Compuware, a technology performance company, conducted a survey of 3,500 consumers to analyze their behavior on mobile devices.  The findings show that Mobile Apps are rapidly becoming more popular than mobile websites.

According to the Compuware Survey, “85% of respondents say they'd prefer a mobile app than a mobile site.” The survey results show that customers’ choice to access their data through mobile apps is rapidly changing and resulting in companies starting to present their product to their prospective clients not only on a mobile website but through a mobile app.

How are these users deciding to move from their regular mobile website to mobile apps? Ratings seem to be a common factor to whether a customer will give a try to a new mobile app on the market. 84% of users say ratings help them determine whether they should download a program.” The Compuware survey results found that users want fast access, easy navigation, and real-time communication when they first launch a mobile app.

 “So Long, Mobile Websites” is how CIO Insight refers to customers’ reaction to mobile apps in the article Users Want Mobile Apps, Not Mobile Websites. It remains to be seen if customer’s expectations will dictate whether mobile apps will take over mobile websites. 

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Tags: BPM, SaaS, Cloud, SMB, ROI, mobile web, SMB market, SMBs, mobile apps

SMBs Welcome Smart IT Solutions

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 @ 02:23 PM

According to a recent Gartner report the SMB market keeps expanding resulting in new opportunities for innovative IT solutions.  “SMB will spend approximately $920 billion worldwide on IT in 2013. Out of those 920 billion…The SMB market represents 44% of the total IT spend worldwide”, Gartner reports. This comes as no surprise since SMBs have become a big part of our worldwide market. According to statistics there are 6 Million SMBs in the U.S. and a total of 65-70 Million SMBs worldwide.  

SMBs find themselves continuously competing against larger businesses and as a result they need to be innovative on how they handle their IT needs to keep up with larger competitors. As a result, popular IT solutions have emerged that have adapted their technology to develop comprehensive solutions for business analysts and SMB business owners, reducing the need for programming,  years of experience, extensive training as well as long and costly implementations.  

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According to Gartner, IT solutions for SMBs should:

  1. Be affordable with outstanding support
  2. Be easy to install, configure and manage
  3. Demonstrate fast ROI (Return on Investment)
  4. Provide flexibility in deployment options
  5. Provide entry level functionality that can be easily scalable
  6. Not require too long to achieve benefits
  7. Be delivered by providers that are “easy to do business with”

Gartner predicts that by 2015, the SMB market is projected to cross the trillion dollar mark in IT spending. While this change takes place the flexibility of IT services on the cloud for SMBs will also become more popular.  

“By 2015, 70% of midmarket businesses with 100-999 employees and 40% of small
businesses with 20-99 employees will acquire paid public cloud services.” This change has already begun. In fact, Gartner estimates that in 2013, the percentage of SMBs moving their system to the cloud will jump by 20% over 2012.  
Additionally, a new need is emerging with the popularity of tablet computing among SMBs: mobile connectivity from any location. Mobile connectivity to business applications will keep growing among SMBs. In fact Gartner projects that by 2015 the growth of tablet computing among SMBs will outpace that of larger enterprises.    

 

 

 



Tags: BPM, Mid Market, Business Process Management, Workflow, BPM Suite, Hosted Workflow, SaaS, Cloud, SMB, Workflow and Business Process Management, Gartner conference, SMB market, SMBs

CIOs to invest heavily in business apps like BPMS in 2013

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 @ 11:20 AM

According to a new survey from Delphix conducted in September 2012 by IDG Research of over 100 enterprise CIOs and top-level IT executives, there will be heavy investing in Enterprise Business Apps in 2013.  

Specifically, more than 50% plan to invest in Business Process Management applications.  More than 60% will be deploying new apps or modernizing old apps.  The primary drivers are to reduce operating costs, improve productivity of the workforce, improve customer service and grow revenue.

Interestingly, the same study showed that 94% of these IT execs find it challenging to deliver new enterprise app projects on time and on budget.

These survey findings are in agreement with our experience with new and existing customers and partners in 2012:  Companies are investing in BPM software to increase productivity rather than hire new workers.  This trend is likely to continue in 2013 and we believe BPM will have another good year.

In addition, we expect to see a continuation of Cloud BPM solutions being adopted by SMB and Mid Market companies, not just enterprises.  The combination of ease of use, low entry costs, and very rapid time to value has been a big hit in 2012 and we expect it to continue next year. 

More companies are beginning to realize that robust BPMS implementations don't require programming or an army of technical workers and can be completed rapidly in days and weeks.

Here are the links to the executive summary and article on the survey.

Tags: BPM, Business Process Management, BPM Suite, SaaS, Enterprise, BPMS, ROI, Workflow and Business Process Management

Interneer 1st Annual Partner Conference: Cloud Computing Presentation

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Oct 02, 2012 @ 08:00 PM

Cloud Computing - The Beginning of the Demand Supply IT Era

Sina Moatamed, Principal Consultant for Unified Clouds, talked about Cloud Computing creating significant changes in organizational behavior. According to Sina, business units, not IT, are increasingly in charge of the narrative of how Enterprises will innovate and IT must adjust accordingly. His talk was a review on how to manage that change.

Mr. Moatamed discussed the changes Cloud Computing has created after being introduced into a Traditional IT environment. The change almost immediately created a decentralized IT organization for those engagements.  IT Departments need to offer additional value for business units when they deliver cloud solutions in order for them to return to being a trusted and preferred partner to engage in cloud solutions.

Sina further explained how financial operations for IT will have to migrate to a different cost model to make the value match with the service a public cloud requires or keep the service internal.  Most importantly they will have to provide business units a common financial model for all services that would attract them to the new change.

Mr. Moatamed concluded his presentation by mentioning where these changes are taking the IT industry:  Planning will be replaced by Brokering Cloud services, build will be replaced by Integration of Cloud services into the company’s business system portfolio and run will be replaced by Orchestration of services to manage continuity of delivery.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation for this session

Read the article by Mr. Moatamed on this topic:

http://scn.sap.com/community/cloud/blog/2012/09/30/the-great-transformation--the-era-of-demand-supply-it-begins

 

Tags: BPM, SaaS, Cloud, BPMS

Xchange 2012 Partner Conference

Posted by Romeo Elias on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 @ 03:57 PM

Just returned from the UBM Channel annual XChange 2012 conference. We had a chance to present, meet and speak with many solution providers across North America, who focus largely on SMB and Mid Market companies.

I was surprised to learn that the solution providers were not as aware and knowledgeable on Workflow and BPM as the customers they serve, especially the Mid Market focused companies.  However, as they learned what the technology was capable of, it became obvious to them how BPM and workflow management could help their customers and that the need was there. 

Being a cloud BPM solution was also a big hit among the solution providers.  It turns out their SMB and Mid Market customers have been aggressively driving demand for cloud based solutions and it was good to receive that feedback and validation.

Overall a good event and we will be updating our partner program thanks to their feedback and adding many more new partners to our channel.

Tags: BPM, Business Process Management, Workflow, Workflow Process Management, BPM Suite, Hosted Workflow, SaaS, Cloud, BPMS, Workflow and Business Process Management

Filling the HR Gap

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Mar 13, 2012 @ 01:21 PM

HR solutions come in many flavors and with lots of features. Some provide the basics for tracking employee life cycles, hiring, firing, raises, etc. Some focus on finding talents like managing resumes, interviews, advertising and integrating with job sites.  Others include payroll processing and benefits management.  These systems provide a lot of value to HR managers and departments for mid to large companies, enabling them to manage the day to day HR activities as well as track the dynamic database of employees joining or leaving the company.

As companies reach higher process maturity levels and start to document and enforce structured business processes, many of these HR systems begin to struggle.   For example, what if your organization required a process for approving raises that depended on a number of approval steps.  Or what if company policies defined rules that determined the necessary approvals based on employee job title, pay raise amount or role.  Most of these HR systems typically provide some basic approval process if any, and deviating from that process becomes a large software development customization effort, if at all possible.  Thus HR Managers resort to email, paper (manual) or spreadsheet based ways to track these changes and approvals to work around the limitations of the HR System.  This is what I am referring to as the HR gap.

Business Process Management Platforms have emerged as a compelling solution to this problem and to fill the HR gap.  These systems are designed for the rapid modeling of a workflow process through a drag and drop interface, with the ability to route forms and data between people.  In the case we just described, the BPM platform would allow the HR Manager to define the workflow process of approvals, along with the various rules.  Once a request is made (could be for a raise, promotion, transfer etc.) through the system, the manager is notified by email and can then login to view the status of the request, respond, approve or reject the request.  The system provides a real time status view on where a request is, reminders for past due requests, and can even be setup to interface with the company’s HR System once the request is approved.

In addition, the workflow engine maintains an audit trail that tracks the requests, comments, decisions, both in real time and as a historical record.  This enables companies to mitigate the risks involved in making such decisions by demonstrating they followed their processes and policies as defined.  Not only do companies using BPM platforms save time in processing these requests, they reduce costs by eliminating paper forms and unnecessary mistakes.  Employee morale is improved and HR departments are empowered with a process platform they can manage and control, without any programming or technical resources.

If you would like to see a examples of how HR departments are leveraging BPM platforms, click here.

Tags: BPM, Business Process Management, BPM Suite, Hosted Workflow, SaaS, Cloud, HR, HR Gap, Manual process, Employee request, HR Process, Workflow and Business Process Management, Human Resources

Mid Market company IT pressures

Posted by Romeo Elias on Fri, Nov 04, 2011 @ 03:27 PM

A recent conversation with analysts from Info Tech Research Group revealed some interesting insights about the pressures facing IT departments at Mid Market companies.

Besides the usual backlog of requests from the business that keeps increasing, they find themselves having to deal with more complex demands that are beyond the internal capabilities of the groups.  In addition, the IT skills required are becoming more broader to address the various demands, with less vertical specialization in house.

In addition SaaS tools are disrupting the way IT used to function, as business units are getting on the Cloud directly, bypassing IT, or in many cases, are getting more involved in purchase decision making. 

These pressures are causing a shift in IT skills, with companies seeing a rise in business developers, as compared to highly skilled tool developers, and a shift in IT from the business of running technology and infrastructure to the business of managing vendors and being business analysts.

Business Process Management platforms are designed to address these new realities as they can address the backlog of demands on IT due to their rapid development capabilities, they can empower the business with the help of IT, and they are easy to learn and adopt.  The next frontier for BPM platforms is Mid Market companies!

Tags: BPM, Business Process Management, SaaS, Cloud