As I have mentioned many times before in various forums, next generation business applications need to be able to quickly adapt to business changes. The old, traditional way of hard-coding workflows is just not acceptable anymore. There is a need to drive continuous change and process improvement even within pre-existing business applications.
But how can you tell whether or not your application is in need of an update? Here are five signs that you need a business process-enabled application:
- You have more menu items then puzzle pieces.
While using an application, users want to seamlessly get through their work with as few detours as possible. Unfortunately some applications make customers feel like they are putting together a puzzle – lots of pieces and no guidance as to where to begin. A business process-enabled application can guide users through the application with a customizable wizard-like interface, creating a much friendlier and better user experience.
- Your workflows are set in stone.
Hard-coding workflows into your application may have worked in the past, but today’s dynamic applications shouldn’t force users to follow a path that might not be correct and/or efficient. Today’s customers demand more flexibility and continuous process improvement, and business process-enabled applications allow you to tailor processes as needed.
- Your customers are NOT all created equal.
Ford used to say you can have your Model T in any color you like, as long as it’s black. Unfortunately, the same goes for many applications these days. A company will tell its customers or users that they can use the application to get the job done as long as they do X then Y then Z. That specific process might not make sense for each customer or user. They want to be able customize the workflow to work best for them, and by providing business process-enabled apps, you can provide the right solution for each specific need all with a single application.
- Your IT team makes your business decisions.
Business decisions should address customer and market demands, not what works best for the IT department. Yet many applications are updated based on what the IT department thinks is best. By adding business process management (BPM) capabilities to your existing application, you can drive better decisions that are acceptable to the business folks, all while adjusting quickly and easily to market changes.
- Your application picture is worth a thousand lines of code.
Many companies will collaborate with their customers or users to determine what processes and workflows should be included in an application and then capture them in some form (e.g. paper, whiteboard, graphical diagramming tool like Microsoft® Visio®). Next, they hand over the results to the developers and tell them to “build the application.” Ultimately, this means the work is done twice as the developers try to figure out how to code what they see. Business process-enabled applications let you quickly capture the process or workflow graphically and simply “plug it in” to the business logic of the application and you are off and running. Think Visio on steroids. That graphical “picture” is now worth much more than the 1000s of “words” or lines of code. It means you only do the work once and also gain better visibility into how the application functions without requiring a master’s degree in computer science. Plus, the business folks can stay engaged.
In summary, if any of these points resonate with you, maybe it’s time to think about business process-enabling YOUR business application.
Thanks and, as always, please feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think.