back to article Does Microsoft already own the BPM space?

Business Process Management is not a particularly new term, but it has received a pretty big boost in visibility recently as some vendors seem to be positioning it as the next big thing in IT. The problem is that the term means different things to different people – vendors and users alike. Apart from the fact that the …

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  1. Julian Cook

    Err, no, not really

    Having worked around business process modelling for a number of years I have to say that will Microsoft does provide some invaluable tools, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Its modelling application is found wanting in many ways, use of tools for modelling from IBM and others that allow more than one user to actively build the business process model is something that Visio can only dream of.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Microsoft has owned this space for a long time

    Microsoft are the only vendor that provide complete, integrated solutions irrespective of whether you take the acronym to mean Business Process Modelling or Management.

    In terms of Modelling, these have already been discussed with Visio etc and the standard desktop Office. Sure they're not as powerful as Telelogic System Architect et. al. but then they were never designed to be. Visio itself is touted as a tool for "business and technical drawings" it just so happens that it's also used for flow charting and UML (use-cases etc).

    In terms of Business Process Management, BizTalk has long been the dominant tool to facilate the automation of internal and cross-organisational Business Process Management. For all of you sceptics, the Gartner Magic Quadrant listed BizTalk as a 'leader' in the integration space as far back as 2006 (http://blogs.msdn.com/marcmonp/archive/2006/04/13/575976.aspx). Couple this with platforms such as SharePoint Server, Infopath and Forms Services (of course tight integration with Microsoft Internet Explorer and Office) and Microsoft have this market completely sewn up.

    So to answer the question "Does Microsoft already own the BPM space?"... of course they do, I thought everyone knew that :)

  3. Bruce Ordway

    BPM for ERP?

    I'm on an ERP install that has been going for 5 years. One of the big stumbling blocks is not having clearly defined business processes. As far as I know, ERP implementation failure is common. ERP (and CRM) installs almost always fall short of expectations or fail. BPM would help I think, but with Excel, Word and Viso are too weak for this task in my environment.

  4. The Cube
    Alert

    Why you should buy hOrrorcle BPM

    Come on people, you know that you should buy Horrorcle BPM. How else are you going to get locked in to a bloated, ineffecient and unmaintainable nightmare of multiple concurrent versions, bugs that last for decades and a bill the pope couldn't pay? Haven't you learnt yet that Horrorcle is essentially a tax on businesses unlucky enough to have used it in the past or dumb enough to install it now? Even Micro$oft looks like a good deal compared to this...

  5. Patrick O'Reilly
    Coat

    Amateurs

    If any business is basing their entire BPM efforts on purely Microsoft tools such as Excel, Powerpoint and Visio, are really only scraping the surface of what they could potentially be doing.

    Any business hoping to utilize BPM to improve their processes at and organisational level are using repository based solutions such as Aris, Corproate Modeler, Proforma or Intalio.

  6. Andrew Cooper

    Re: BPM for ERP?

    Microsoft Dynamics GP includes some workflow features to do exactly what you describe, although it was new in the last release and as such is a bit limited.

    Can clearly see the direction they're going though...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    There is a simple answer to this...

    ... these tools are important to businesses and so, by definition, the Microsoft tools can't be relied upon. We need robust, reliable and well-engineered applications for this particular requirement, all of which Microsoft products ain't.

    When Windows has been re-written from scratch, and has migrated from being a consumer toy to a real operating system with a robust security model, I will look again.

  8. greenmantle

    TIBCO?

    Feel it's a little difficult to talk about BPM without even as much as a passing mention of TIBCO, which is pretty complete in process modelling/simulation.

    Also what of the plethora of smaller vendors out there going under the unlikely name of 'mash-ups'?

    Should be included in the panel

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't This.....

    ........a second attempt to get people to do the Reg Survey.

    PS. 1 out of the last 10 solutions I've designed has had M$ in it for BPM, and that was only because they were a 100% Microsoft shop. All the rest were based around BEA, Oracle and SUN with appropriate BoB tools.

  10. Antony Riley
    Stop

    Fscking Marketing

    HATE HATE HATE HATE.

    Now I'll have to add another meaningless acronym to my CV.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Stop

    BPM?

    Beats Per Minute?

    Biscuit Production Metric?

    Brain Pummeling Moron?

    Business Professional Marketdroid?

    Yes! That's the one :)

  12. oroboros

    All current tools aside...

    The best BPM hands down: Beats Per Minute. May the techno music sound forever.

  13. Lee Humphries

    BPM, SOA, too many TLAs...

    I've done BPM using Word for Insurance companies using a template I designed myself - 500 pages worth of modeling, and it all worked. I've also used BizTalk a lot (but not since 2002 admittedly) and quite frankly back then it sucked so badly that I ended up circumventing just about everything it offered - it showed such a stunningly poor understanding of how to use XML. I have heard it's a lot better now, but let's just say that I'm more than a little tainted by the whole experience.

    In the end I believe it's about being able to put the pieces together in the right order and add to that a solution for every possible problem - the only answer I've come across is YAWL. When originally coming up with the concept they examined every BPM 'language' and then developed YAWL as the superset of all of them. Regardless of the size of these vendors their tools still just have too many gaps in comparison.

  14. jake Silver badge

    Manglement & magic bullets ...

    BPM == Bullets: Powerfull & Magic

    ::sighs::

    There are no magic bullets.

    --

    jake ... er, AC, that is ...

    herb caen taught me to type ... sue him for typoes, me for content ...

  15. Scott

    Business Process Management Software

    From someone who is knee deep within the Business Process Management Software space daily (www.interfacing.com), I have a hard time understanding why Microsoft doesn't play a larger role within such a lucrative management industry. MS is still sitting on the success of Visio instead of investing in a more robust modeling/management solution will definitely hurt them in the long-run as companies slowly move away from desktop solutions. Microsoft does have BizTalk which is a powerful system centric workflow tool, however, they are truly lacking within the modeling, simulation, risk & human centric workflow (which are central to workflow).

    Regards, Scott

  16. Ray Arpin
    Happy

    BPM controversy or value?

    Nice controversial news topic!

    To me (and many others), the main purpose, objective, and hopefully the value, of BPM is to improve and better manage the processes (ideally, to achieve strategic goals and objectives). Emphasis on improve!

    Much confusion comes from people automatically associating BPM with technology, e.g., BPM suites/software (BPMS) or any other technology.

    The focus has to be on business processes improvement and management. Sounds simple, but often either misunderstood or ignored.

    When an organization is considering BPM, it has to start with business fundamentals. What business are they in; their strategy, goals and objectives; etc. Again, this "may" sound basic, but my 20+ years of experience have shown that even Global 2000 organizations often ignore the fundamentals -- only to wonder why the project failed or failed to yield any significant results. Therefore, I have become a stickler about clearly defining and doing the basics and fundamentals.

    Once the basics are addressed, technology can be considered as part of an overall BPM solution. Let me quickly add that it is a good idea to think about or know what technology is available and functionality -- but NOT a primary focus or driver in doing basic BPM.

    My approach is to try to use whatevever technology the client has for cost, knowledge, and experience considerations. That technology inevitably includes Microsoft (MS) products. So, yes, MS is inevitably a part of the technical solution to do BPM.

    However, to even suggest that Microsoft owns the "BPM space" raises the question "How do you define 'BPM space?'" Is it the amount of products that are installed, in general? Or is it what could be used for doing BPM? Or do you want to define BPM space as the best suited technology for doing BPM, from beginning to end? Again clear definition helps to be able to answer a question.

    When I do a focused BPM project, my preference is to use the best, easiest for the client, depending on their budget. At a minimum, I want a BPM tool that will allow the client to model and analyze their processes, with metrics, and perform a comparison (e.g., simulation) between the current state process and what changes can be made. Microsoft products are a last resort. On the other hand, a full blown BPMS tool is a serious over-kill (and please, don't let me even hear the acronym SOA -- to further confuse people).

    By organizations (oops, I mean, organisations) focusing on BPM basics and fundamentals, the correct and proper tool becomes blatantly obvious!

    Existing technology tools (e.g., MS products) may be sufficient, to start doing BPM. However, considering the intent of doing BPM in the first place, dictates that continuous improvement will lead to the need for a full BPMS tool to fully "manage" the processes.

    The main point that I want to re-emphasize is that BPM must start with the basics -- Business -- including a clear definition of BPM, goals and objectives. Then, defining the objectives of doing BPM, the realistic requirements will further define what technology can and should be used.

  17. Edgardo

    SemTalk

    I work on daily basis with Microsoft tools like most of you. Of course a modeling tool like Visio is not enough to do serious business process modeling. You need repositories, syntax and semantic consistency check, more than one modeling notation and method, evaluation functionalities, interfaces to other BPM tools and so on.

    I work with SemTalk (www.semtalk.com), which is Visio-based and thus completely integrated with MS Office. Try it yourself.

  18. John Everhard

    Horses for courses…

    Does Microsoft “own the BPM space”? Unlikely, at least not in the case of large organisations looking to automate, monitor and manage the evolution of their underlying business processes.

    For such fundamental, mission-critical change they want a proven technology - one which combines scale, performance and operational robustness in a well-structured enterprise architecture. And, whatever Microsoft’s undoubted strengths elsewhere, this is demonstrably not a ‘sweet spot’ in their software offering.

    So where does that leave Microsoft? In the case of Pegasystems, a recognised leader in this space, in adopting a rules-based BPM approach we make extensive use of Microsoft products. Critically, this enables business users to access familiar tools as Word, Visio and Excel as they collaborate with IT in driving and implementing rapid and effective process change.

    In this way, the right, easy-to-use tools are used for the right purpose when capturing business objectives directly into the Pegasystems software, fine-tuning those requirements and providing essential supporting documentation.

    Maybe Microsoft is not the right choice for a large organisation undertaking a serious BPM implementation. Yet its office tools can make an important contribution when orchestrated by a powerful engine such as Pegasystems’ own PegaRules Process Commander technology.

    So, how to describe Microsoft’s position? ‘Jack of all trades, master of some’ might do it. But when it comes to enterprise BPM, ‘horses for courses’ is the only way to go.

    By John Everhard, technical director, Pegasystems

  19. .
    Gates Halo

    Bill Gates talked about it recently. Here are some of his thoughts.

    Shortly before Bill Gates stepped down from his full time position at Microsoft, he attended the Microsoft Office Developers Conference. In less than 2 minutes Gates explained what Microsoft has to offer in this market and what is the role of BPM players like PNMsoft for example.

    Here is a link to the relvant part of his speech on Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y92zT9d5m7g

    If you want to read the full speech (It's long so search for "business process management") goto:

    http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/exec/billg/speeches/2008/02-11GatesODC.mspx

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