Business process management is now a mature discipline. It has formal approaches, methods, techniques and a rich set of concepts. It has also evolved to the point where it is applied to projects of all sizes and supports both business process improvement and business transformation.
As BPM evolved, so did the enterprise's business processes. They became too large and complex to be managed without automated tool support. This gave rise to business process management software (BPMS), the collection of workflow automation tools developed in the early 2000's to help enterprises identify, analyze, model, optimize and monitor business processes.
BPMS products have also evolved, as the internet, mobile devices, cloud computing and advanced analytics have changed how business is done. Today's BPM tools are often marketed as intelligent BPMS, or iBPMS, because of their ability to automate business process programming, thus saving companies time and preventing errors, while opening up BPM to business users and other non-BPM professionals.
As defined by Gartner, iBPM systems "are a type of model-driven low-code application development platform that uses business models and rules to tie together the systems, applications, data, people, bots and AI decisions required to provide a business outcome."
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IBPMS platforms, in turn, are designed to work with a constellation of modern automation software, sometimes referred to as hyperautomation tools, which include technologies such as those listed in Figure 1.
Long story short: An ever-expanding roster of BPM tools is helping companies diagnose, improve and manage their business processes. This article provides you with an up-to-the-minute account of top BPM vendors.
17 business process management tools
The following vendors are not the only ones you might want to consider for your BPM project. But they all provide mature iBPMS tools that should be included in your vetting of BPM technology.
The list is also not meant to be a comparative analysis or a definitive evaluation of any vendor or product. Use it as a starting point in your due diligence process.
Appian offers a set of integrated hyperautomation tools that includes iBPMS, RPA and AI components. The iBPMS is the core product and provides advanced process modeling and API capabilities. Visual workflow models support process mining and performance analysis. The process modeler also generates low-code applications that can be augmented with Appian AI and RPA generated programs. Together, these products support flexible process redesign and help expedite the various steps in BPM, including activity discovery, operational redesign and application generation.
2. Aurea Savvion
Savvion Business Manager is a comprehensive cloud-based iBPMS platform that supports the redesign, construction and deployment of processes. The platform's process discovery, process modeling and process redesign capabilities also support a comprehensive collaborative environment. All models are built through a visual drag-and-drop modeling approach that can be used in any phase of large process improvement projects. Once process models are defined, Business Manager supports process redesign, workflow analysis and low-code applications generation to deliver flexible, distributed web-based applications. In addition, easy-to-use data handling and advanced real-time performance analytics provide insight into various improvement design versions. Savvion's flexible rules generate and allow for alternative process scenario paths, triggering the right processing path for given situations. The Savvion iBPMS also helps improvement teams share a wide variety of information as they collaborate on process improvements and deployment.
Bizagi provides advanced process redesign and automated application systems through three products: Bizagi Modeler, Bizagi Studio and Bizagi Engine. Bizagi also now offers a cloud option for additional flexibility. The Bizagi Modeler enables project teams to describe and automate their business processes and procedures, creating complex workflow models through a software interface that aligns Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) symbols to program language to generate low-code applications.
4. IBM Blueworks Live
Blueworks Live is the cloud-based iBPMS product group from IBM. It supports all BPM functions, from process modeling to application generation. The Blueworks dashboard is accessible from virtually any location to support real-time collaboration. Blueworks Live also supports three unique views for data handling through its Discovery Map, Process Diagram and Documentation products. The products' symbol-based drag and drop menus give process improvement teams the ability to do workflow discovery, modeling redesign, process analysis, performance analysis and -- using simulation software -- workflow optimization. When the process redesign is ready, the application can be delivered using low-code application generation. The BPMS platform can also utilize AI and RPA tools when and where that capability is needed.
IGrafx's cloud-based platform provides flexible process modeling, enabling companies to optimize new process designs and generate automated applications to improve or transform their business operations. The tool provides flexible drag-and-drop process modeling, process management and -- through process mining capabilities -- performance management. This helps process improvement teams create applications that fit the company's digital maturity and culture. Using iGrafx's simulation capability, process improvement teams can try out various workflow changes to identify the best way to deal with different events or situations. This simulation function can also examine the roles that staff play in the redesigned process and help identify the optimal skill and staffing mix. Once the team and the sponsor are satisfied with the new operation design, iGrafx can generate the defined supporting applications.
Jira, by Atlassian, is an iBPMS software development tool designed for use by Agile development teams. The applications created using Jira can support extremely large user groups, providing workflow discovery and analysis and management of the redesigned process. No-code applications are designed and generated with minimal human involvement.
Kissflow's cloud-based iBPMS tool platform helps companies improve and reinvent operations by streamlining and simplifying their processes and workflows. The no-code platform provides sample modeling dashboards and other design aids to create custom templates and forms. These templates and forms are used to redefine the business operation and supporting applications that will be generated along with the new workflows in the redesigned business processes. However, while this approach provides the ability to use citizen developers to create new applications, it is less flexible than low-code tools, which are generally capable of addressing more complex situations.
Microsoft's Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS) Business process modeler lets process improvement teams create and modify business models, design new business processes and modify them as the need arises. Using simulation and advanced reporting capabilities, Business process modeler also lets design teams compare the performance of different design options. The visual models are created by dragging and dropping symbols that represent program code for certain actions, with the symbols placed in the order of the workflow. From these representations, the Microsoft modeler generates new low-code applications. Because this low-code approach requires less tool mastery and is less complex than traditional application programming, the change is produced faster with reduced need to manually write programming code -- and at a lower cost and reduced risk.
Newgen describes its offering as a "unified digital transformation platform" that provides process modeling, process automation, content management and performance management. With a focus on enterprise process and activity organization, Newgen's OmniDocs product group creates business models using drag-and-drop techniques. The visual process models can be rendered and implemented using Newgen's cloud- based, low-code platform. Business process improvement teams can use this product group to control document and case management, as well as workflow modeling and redesign. Newgen's low-code operating platform also uses RPA applications to enable new business processes.
10. Nintex K2
Nintex acquired K2 Software on October 1, 2020. Since then, Nintex has enhanced existing process automation capabilities to improve the use of forms and the product's mobile application capabilities. Nintex has also increased workflow and process orchestration capabilities. In addition, Nintex has enhanced its multi-tenant cloud infrastructure, added application management capabilities and extended the capabilities of its data integration framework. Although historically an on-premises tool, Nintex has introduced cloud and enhanced its low-code automation capabilities to increase flexibility.
11. Oracle Business Process Management Suite
The Oracle Business Process Management Suite is a collection of cloud-based products that provide a full range of flexible and continuous business improvement capabilities. These capabilities include process model building using drag-and-drop symbol placement in a model to form a workflow that can be augmented with a wide variety of tools, including: business operations modeling, machine learning, AI, performance analytics, predictive analytics, simulation, role-based work assignment and decision management. Together, these capabilities form an advanced platform that supports a collaborative business design and development environment.
Pegasystems' digital iBPMS platform contains multiple product groups that work together to provide advanced low-code application generation for complex business processes. Highly scalable, the component products in this group drive collaborative process improvement and allow transformation teams to address innovation through comprehensive business modeling, rules definition, screen design, and workflow performance management. Applications are defined in process models and then used to drive low-code application generation, which can be augmented with AI and blockchain. In addition, applications can be generated using RPA and intelligent automation.
13. Red Hat
Red Hat, Inc.is an IBM subsidiary software company that provides cloud-based iBPMS services through several open source products. These products include Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite, Red Hat Virtualization (RHV), an enterprise virtualization product, and Red Hat Process Automation Manager. Process Automation Manager provides modeling, decision support, and rules management, along with resource optimization for solving complex scheduling problems and supporting advanced decision making. Through a combination of process models and rules definition, Red Hat's application development platform supports the creation of cloud-based applications. Simulation and activity monitoring are also supported by the platform.
14. SAP Signavio
Signavio was acquired by ERP vendor SAP in January 2021. Post-acquisition, SAP introduced advanced drag-and-drop process modeling, with process mining-driven performance monitoring to provide KPI reporting, benchmarking and both user behavior and customer experience analysis. The tools in the product platform are cloud-based, providing process improvement team members a flexible environment for decision management. Signavio's holistic approach to business process evolution strengthens SAP's ability to support its customers' digital transformations. Using enhanced process mining capabilities and a cloud-based no-code application development, Signavio has focused on supporting citizen developers. Process redevelopment activity is performed using a web and mobile application builder. These capabilities give business users a view of every business process and help improvement teams recommend solutions to drive change efficiency.
The Tibco BPM Enterprise product includes low-code, model-driven application generation. Other capabilities include case management, work management capabilities and cloud-native deployment. Interfaces between programs are built using APIs. Business improvement is supported using the Tibco Intelligent Work and Resource Management (iWRM) tool. This product helps managers dynamically redesign work, based on skill requirements for BPM activities, staff access privileges, locations, an employee's workload and the company's business rules. The work assignment capabilities in Tibco's tool mix can help improve operational efficiency, work distribution and activity prioritization. To support business and digital transformation, the tools in this platform also enable the creation of a digital process automation strategy for aligning business transformation needs.
Trisotech has participated in the various BPM standards committees, playing an active role in the evolution of BPM and its supporting tool platforms. This involvement has allowed Trisotech to be a leader in complying with industry rules, BPMN and other standards as it designed its products to ensure compatibility with other hyperautomation tools. The tools in its Digital Enterprise Suite product are focused on collaboration-based process improvement and help BPM teams in all phases of the software development lifecycle. The suite is composed of five web-based components: discovery accelerator, business process modeler, the case management modeler, the decision modeler and the insight analyzer. A SaaS subscription gives users cloud-based access to Trisotech's tools. Through the Trisotech product suite, improvement teams can produce visual drag-and-drop models, model analysis using simulation and low-code application generation to create processes that are anchored in open standards.
Ultimus Digital Process Automation Suite has been designed to meet the low-code demands of today's modern digital enterprise. When used by trained developers, the capabilities of the tools in this product suite can help deliver BPM projects on-time and on budget. The Digital Process Automation Suite also offers an innovative new approach to low-code application generation using block chain capabilities that let improvement teams translate requirements shown in business models directly into custom applications. This provides improvement teams with the ability to address complicated operating requirements and maximize business agility while providing scalable rapid software generation. This suite of tools provides process management through scalable, mobile-ready, customized applications. Its capabilities can be enhanced through the addition of AI, machine learning, blockchain and other hyperautomation technologies.
About the author
Daniel Morris, managing principal at Wendan Transformation Consulting, has served as the North American practice lead for business transformation at Infosys, Capco, Tata and ZS Associates and has been an executive consultant at IBM Global Services. In these roles, he has worked on more than 100 projects in multiple industries, training people in-house, at client companies and at conferences. Morris has coauthored six books and over 100 articles on business transformation. A featured speaker at business transformation conferences, he has served on the boards of the Business Architects Guild, the Association of Business Process Management Professionals (ABPMP), the PEX Advisory Board and the Forrester BPM Council. Along this journey, Morris has written major parts of the ABPMP architect and senior leader certification tests, and the BAA Enterprise Architect certification test, earning the designation of ABPMP Fellow. For additional information on any BPM-related topic, please contact Dan at 630-290-4858, by LinkedIn or email him at [email protected]