AN EVALUATION METHOD FOR BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT PRODUCTS

Undergraduate

Abstract

Business Process Management (BPM) is a management discipline aimed at describing and managing the business processes in an organization. The goal of Business Process Management is to achieve the organization‟s objectives by aligning the business processes with these objectives and to continually improve these processes.

 

Even though there are many vendors that supply BPM products, there is no scientific method available today to evaluate these products and to compare them.

 

This thesis proposes an evaluation method for Business Process Management products. This method was developed by creating a framework on BPM by analyzing the state of the literature regarding BPM. This framework contains literature and criteria that have been extracted from this literature. 

 

The evaluation method itself consists of a selection of the framework‟s criteria, a case, information on how to use the criteria when evaluating the BPM products and a rating method which allows quantification of the evaluation.

 

The evaluation method was tested by applying it to three different BPM suites: Oracle BPM Suite, Cordys BPMS and IBM WebSphere BPM. Next to valuable feedback for our evaluation method, these evaluations formed the basis of a comparison between the three products.

The evaluations of the three BPM suites show that our evaluation method is a useful method for comparing BPM products, since it is capable of showing a significant distinction between different BPM suites. We believe that our evaluation method is best used when comparing the complete BPM related product stack of different vendors. Furthermore we believe that the evaluations should be done in a proof of concept where the vendors can walk through our evaluation method, while independent people observe and rate the products based on our rating method that is included in the evaluation method. This will result in an objective evaluation in which all the relevant points are evaluated.

      

Introduction

Motivation

Every organization has business processes. They range from advertising and customer acquisition to manufacturing and shipping. How well the business processes are organized determines the success of an organization (Elzinga, Horak et al. 1995; Smith and Fingar 2003). For example, a suitable advertising process provides the organization with enough potential customers and a suitable manufacturing process makes sure that the product is of high quality and at a reasonable price which will increase customer satisfaction.

Business processes can be seen as a set of linked and related activities (organizational tasks) which are designed to take an input and to transform it into a specific output (Davenport 1993; Hammer and Champy 1993; Johansson, McHugh et al. 1993; Kalle, Lars et al. 1998). For example, take the business process of an insurance agency in which a customer applies for insurance. This business process involves activities related to checking the credibility of the customer, getting his information, calculating his monthly fee, and many more. All these activities are linked to each other, so that they occur in the right time and order. The input to this business process is the customer‟s information and the output is a signed insurance contract.

Business Process Management (BPM) is a management discipline aimed at describing and managing the business processes in an organization. The goal of Business Process Management is to achieve the organization‟s objectives by aligning the business processes with these objectives and to continually improve these processes.

Many vendors have released products that support BPM, among which are Oracle‟s BPEL Process Manager, BEA‟s Aqualogic BPM and Tibco iProcess Suite (BEA 2008; Oracle 2008; Tibco 2008). These BPM products either support a few steps of BPM (BPM tools) or the whole lifecycle, in which case they are referred to as BPM suites (Gillot 2008).

At the moment, most consultancy companies are approached by customers who have already chosen to start a BPM project and have selected a vendor for the supporting BPM products. These customers ask the consultancy companies to help them implement the BPM project. However, the consultancy companies want to be a step ahead of their customers and want to give their customers advice on selecting the most suitable vendor.

Since consultancy companies do not have objective criteria on which they can base their advice for a certain BPM product, they are reluctant to give their customers this advice. Scientific literature cannot help these consultancy companies, because at the moment no scientific method is available to evaluate different BPM products.