How to choose the right process management software

Your processes are not being looked at and used by teams – maybe because they’re out-of-date or incomplete. You know you need to make a change to the way you manage process info but where do you start? There are so many different BPM tools and approaches, it can be overwhelming. So much so that some companies will just revert back to their current way of doing things. Don’t be that company!

Here are a few things you should definitely consider to make sure you select the best process management option for your organization.

Do the groundwork first

Before considering a BPM tool, first decide what your organization plans to achieve with its process improvement efforts. Why is it important, and what is driving the strategy to focus on a process-centric approach?

Secondly, understand your organization’s current situation and level of maturity: how are you managing processes today, and what resources are available to drive and support your process improvement efforts?

Thirdly, know what your future development requirements are as they will impact your platform selection criteria. You’ll want a tool that supports your strategic direction.

6 Criteria to consider when selecting process management 

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to BPM software. Here are 6 criteria to consider when you're evaluating which process management software to invest in, to reach your process improvement goals.

1. Usability

Think about who is going to use the software and their communication preferences. Will it be used by technical process specialists or frontline staff? The interface should provide users with the ability to engage with the tool easily. If it's too hard, it won't be used. Look for functionality that saves the user time and effort, like the automatic generation of a process map based on the user's text input, and a search function that will improve ease of use, not cause frustration.

Most processes are not static, so you'll also need to think about change management. For example, automatic notifications displayed via a dashboard can gives users visibility of the current state of their processes, and give managers confidence that the right people are being notified of process changes.

2. Analysis

Your process management software should give business analysts information that can support their efforts to make processes lean, and help them utilise tools like Six Sigma and Kaizen. If this is an approach you plan to adopt, you'll need to be able to identify opportunities to reduce waste, remove non-value add activities and spot cost reduction opportunities.

To facilitate this analysis of current processes and identification of improvement opportunities, the BPM tool should be made available to the whole organization. Your teams know your processes inside out and can weigh in on what's not working in your as-is processes, so you can plan your to-be processes. This is a critical component in identifying opportunities for automation and improvement.

3. Governance

Your process management software should provide version control that records who uses the system, and tracks changeable components for auditors. Governance is critical to the success of your process improvement efforts so make sure the tool you select makes this easy. To drive engagement across teams, translate measures of success into people’s job reviews and key performance indicators so you don’t find yourself back where you started with out-of-date processes that no one uses.

4. Content Management

Collaboration is key to process improvement. Consider how the BPM tool will enable and encourage active collaboration and the exchange of ideas, and how it will accommodate and track suggestions for improvement and feedback. These should be should be traceable, and successful execution should be tracked.

Providing teams with access to process information where and when it's needed is a challenge for many organizations. Creating a single location and one version of process truth will help drive engagement with your processes. Ideally, process guidance should be available in the places and systems that teams already visit every day, like the company intranet or via URL links in ERP systems or in CRMs like Salesforce. Think about how your teams will access process information. Where and when will they need it? How can process management software enable the accessibility you require for your teams?

5. Technology

Your process management software will need to grow with you as your business expands and changes. This is frequently where tools like Word, Visio and PowerPoint can't keep up as process mapping tools, because they aren’t scalable. Beyond the technology, your rollout plan should also include the amount and type of resourcing you’ll need to implement and embed the technology.

6. Cost

Cost should never be the only selection criteria for your business process software decision. Regardless of the cost, you should question the return in investment if you don't start to see small wins within a short period of time. You also want a vendor that treats your investment like their own, and gives you a voice to table suggestions. A flexible provider takes you with them on the process improvement journey and should be quick to respond to your queries.

There's no question. The right business process management software can enable your process improvement efforts, but only if you select the right tool and the right process management approach for your business. Thinking about your BPM requirements from the perspective of usability, governance, analysis, content management, technology and cost will help ensure you select the right approach to meet your current and future business process management requirements, and will ultimately ensure maximum return on your process investment.