Satisfaction with BPM software declining: Forrester

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The number of companies that are satisfied with the results being delivered by their business process management (BPM) software has halved in the past two years, according to a recently published report from Forrester Research.

Authored by Rob Koplowitz, the report, "The Growing Importance of Process to Digital Transformation", noted that two surveys of some 3 600 business and technology decision-makers conducted by Forrester Research in 2015 and 2017, had revealed that the number of global decision-makers who reported being satisfied with the BPM software their organisations were implementing or had implemented had dropped from 60% to 30%.

XHead = South African perspective

Rajeev Mishra, Process Engineering Lead at local ICT systems integration and business process specialists, Ovations, believes this finding tells only part of the story.

According to Mishra, user expectations of BPM software have changed significantly in the last few years. This is reflected in the fact that, as pointed out in the Forrester report, the key drivers of BPM have also changed. So, for example, the need for digital transformation has replaced cost reduction as the most important goal of process initiatives.

"Our experience in South Africa has also shown that process improvement/automation initiatives today are more focused on achieving end-to-end digital transformation and improved customer experience than on cost reduction or internal worker productivity," Mishra said.

"This is because digitised processes are being looked at as the new competitive differentiator. It is seen as a way to attract 'new age' customers who prefer the same customer experience regardless of the channel they choose to interact with their service provider."

However, Mishra continued, just two years ago, BPM systems were still largely regarded as little more than systems to manage workflow and "glue together" the various siloed functions across an organisation that together constituted an end-to-end customer interaction.

"Now, users expect the same BPM products to deliver something that is very different, and a lot more complex. BPM is now expected to provide a holistic digital experience. The good news is that the BPM industry is starting to catch up by incorporating user experience design techniques in process automation suites," he added.

Mishra also believes that another reason for the apparent growing dissatisfaction with current BPM products could be attributed to a lack of change management within the process transformation projects.

"Change management always plays a vital role in the success or failure of every business process initiative," he said.

Digital transformation is the key driver

According to the Forrester Report, for most organisations, the primary driver of process improvement efforts by 2020 will be to accelerate digital business transformation. This would see digital business transformation elevated from the least important driver just two years ago, with only 13% of companies claiming it as their key driver, to the second most important driver, named by 32% of respondents, at present.

In addition, 49% of the respondents expect digital transformation to become the key driver of their process efforts within the next two years.

However, Koplowitz points out that transformation expectations and reality may not be in sync.

In the 2016 survey, half of the business and technology respondents said digital transformation would be the primary focus of their process improvement efforts by 2018. It's now 2018, and less than one third of respondents in the current survey said this was the case.

"It is not unreasonable to expect that the advances in BPM software we are seeing today will play a major role in accelerating the advance towards digital transformation," Mishra concluded.

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