Posted by: Adam Deane | 24/05/2010

BPM: The Future of BPMS

The Future of BPM suites

What might be on the CTO’s roadmap for the coming years?
This is my wishlist:

Swimlanes / Flowchart Diagram
Most BPMSs either use a swimlane designer (great for architects and BAs) or workflow designer (great for IT and non architects).
I haven’t seen a BPMS that provides both.
I like to have a button on the workflow designer that transforms the swimlane design into a flowchart (horizontal or vertical) and vice versa – thus enabling the workflow designer to be used by all business user roles instead of one specific type.

Whiteboard to BPMS
The ability to transfer diagrams and flowcharts that are drawn on white boards into the BPMS.
Most of the workflow design is done at customer sites on their whiteboard.
Customers love their whiteboards (and it doesn’t look like that will change)
At the end of the session I either redraw the design to my pad, to be implemented in the BPMS later on or take a picture of the design with my mobile phone and email it to myself.
I’d like to see a clever, simple and seamless way to transfer whiteboard designs to the BPMS (without asking the customer to purchase dozens of electronic boards)

AI – Simulation
I believe process simulation will evolve into AI, the ability to auto-deduct the tweaks needed to make the process run better.
Simulation, currently, needs a skilled simulation guru to use the simulation module. Most customers don’t use simulation, and there is always talk about “when the industry becomes more mature”. I think managers want to have the system tell them what to do. The system should run its own tests and scenarios and produce a report.

Although most employees still work at the office, or at home, they is a growing number of mobile users. Blackberry (and it’s likes) are becoming more common. Currently most BPMSs can send notifications to Blackberrys, but not receive their responses (authentication, security, application specific..)
I’d like to see the ability to reply to tasks through the Blackberry, including simple approve/decline and comments.

Twitter-like functionality
The ability to have Twitter-like functionality to enable users to ask each other questions and add remarks, and have this communication saved and audited as part of the process instance data. Informal correspondence is currently not saved and cannot be audited. (Example: a expense approval is sent to John’s manager. The manager can ask John if the supplier agreed to the discount or not. John’s answer and the whole correspondence would be saved with the workflow data, enabling it to be audited later on).

Outlook Integration
Every time a new software is installed in an organisation, it has to go through an acceptance cycle. End-users have to learn a new product. Some will like it, some won’t. Users have to flip through different applications to do their work.
Outlook is the day-to-day tool that everyone uses. BPMS should be fully embedded into Outlook.

People need to be told what to do. Having a site with pretty monitoring gauges is nice (and it sells well). Visibility is only one side of the coin. BPMS needs to have a stronger BI mechanism that will foresee things are going to go wrong (before they go wrong). Trends, impact analysis, drill downs. A mechanism that will tell managers and end-users what needs to be done NOW.

I would like to see BPMS as the hub, the heart of the organization, the mainframe that integrates with all of the corporate systems
I would like to see end-users using one application, ideally Outlook for the tasklist, monitoring and reports.
I would like to see BPMS sold with dozens of prepared workflows and templates for immediate use, even if tweaking needed.
I would like to see BPMS embrace new communication technologies, and enable process decisions to be based on real-time collaboration


  1. Your requirements seem to span 2 different types of product, both in the BPM space.

    1. User-centric process management – process discovery and deployment / adoption of end end processes (automated and non-automated)

    which is tightly integrated into

    2. BPMS – which automates those proceses that can be automated.

    1. is very people-centric (even consumer’y) and 2 is very IT centric.

  2. Hi Ian,

    Thanks for your response.
    Even if these are seperate tools – the best way, I think, to provide a full BPM end-to-end solution would be to integrate these tools together.

    I haven’t seen a process discovery tool that customers would use instead of the old fashion whiteboard. Customers just love fleshing out the process, drawing, erasing and drawing again.

    Swimlanes are used in most of the BPMS tools nowadays, but even the BPA tools should enable swimlane view and flowchart view.

    In the end, the customer is looking for one solution.


  3. Adam

    We’ve seen very high interest in our BlackBerry workspace for mobile users on our BPMS. We find that the iPhone workspace have a high novelty factor but BlackBerry is a favourite amongst business users.

    I also agree on your point on Outlook. We find some customers buy our BPMS because their “processes are in Outlook”. The reason is simply change management. Outlook is always open on the desktop and associated with completing work items.

    Predictive process BI can assist with goal seeking processes on the one hand but more simply, it can help people prioritise work. This still seem to a challenge even for those with BPMS tools in place.

    I always look forward to you blog postings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts


    • Hi Pieter,

      I took a peek at your website. I was very impressed with XMMobile BlackBerry and XMOutlook . I think (said with a bit of envy on my side) that you have winning ideas there…


  4. Thanks Adam

    Our Outlook workspace is now in its 2nd generation and has been very well received because of the impact on change management in organisations. It just requires a lot less change management and there is a lot less resistance to use it.


  5. Some of the features you mention are already in some products. For example, Tibco has Outlook integration since two years ago, they also have an in-memory, full-BI solution working as BAM solution called Spotfire & recently they released tibbr, a solution which integrates people+systems in a tweeter-like solution.

    • Thanks Javier, I’ll take a look!

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