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Business process management is where business and IT meet, allowing a business to better integrate IT operations and staff into the bigger picture of overall business performance. Using a series of design, modeling, execution, monitoring and optimization steps, business process management improves business outcomes.
IT helps set up a business process management (BPM) platform and contributes to its success as a supporting business unit. But it's ultimately the business, not IT, that should drive BPM implementation and adoption.
A BPM implementation should play a crucial role in the enterprise. It should automate key business processes, organize enterprise content, control access to that content, monitor performance metrics and report performance to business leaders.
As with any enterprise application, the biggest IT concerns for a locally deployed BPM platform are security, data protection and disaster recovery (DR) preparation. IT teams need to ensure only authorized employees can use the platform, and that any rules, metrics, report designs and other content created for the BPM platform are protected against loss.
To accomplish these goals, IT will often use traditional tactics such as snapshots and backups. Still, many businesses that use a BPM platform can demand almost zero recovery time objectives. This could require more resilient deployment practices, such as BPM server node clustering across data center sites, which allows for almost instant recovery as a remote node takes over from a failed node.
Four key areas to evaluate a BPM platform
When evaluating a BPM platform, the enterprise and its IT team should consider four critical areas. A process system discovers, models and executes processes based on a rules engine. An analytics system tracks process performance and generates dashboards, reports and alerts. A content management system handles the storage, security and search of enterprise content such as documents, images and other file types. And a collaboration system provides forums, messaging, dynamic workspaces and other tools designed to eliminate silos and encourage communication.
There are two overarching considerations when creating a DR strategy for BPM. First, consult with the BPM vendor to determine the DR or resilience methodologies that are best-suited for your BPM platform. Second, select a DR method that is consistent and compatible with your existing DR strategy for other enterprise applications. It's easier to add BPM to an existing DR strategy than to implement a new strategy for BPM alone.
One other consideration is the prevalence of cloud-based or software as a service BPM tools. When BPM software is provided as a service, the provider is responsible for uptime and DR. It's important to read and understand the BPM provider's service-level agreement and recognize the provider's commitment to availability and recovery. Make sure the provider can meet your specific availability needs before a BPM implementation, and have a clear picture of software support and issue escalation processes.
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