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Business process modeling software is expensive to purchase and it requires training, time, and effort to implement. The software must serve the organization for a number of years. Use of the software will effect the organization’s business process. It is important that organizations carefully evaluate their technical, functional, and support needs, and compare the offerings of several business process modeling software suppliers to choose the one that provides the best value.
An organization may wish to first establish a small business process software evaluation team to determine the organization’s needs and develop a request for proposal (RFP). The team may consist of management and employees who have a range of expertise in the areas that will be affected by the software. A RFP produced by this team can be sent to a few select vendors that seem capable of meeting the organization’s requirements.
The evaluation team will consider the software’s features and functionality and compare those to the organization’s needs. The types and formats of models produced will be important. An ability to generate code from the models for software application development might be critical in some situations. If process models will be used in software development, the models generated by the new system must be compatible. Other features that may be evaluated include reporting, document management, form builders, business rules engines, and user management.
A business process server is a special piece of software that can offer the ability to use the process models in designing workflows. Technology and humans interact with the workflows to manage their activities. If this functionality is needed, it may affect software evaluation.
In some cases, the modeling software must meet certain industry standards, such as Business Process Modeling Notation. Informal standards may encourage certain business processing modeling software products to be well-accepted in particular industries. The evaluation team may wish to consider software that has been successfully implemented in its industry.
Software support, both during implementation and after installation, can be a vital consideration. Business process modeling software can be complex to implement and maintain. The evaluation team will want to determine if a software supplier’s support is adequate for the organization’s needs.
Some organizations will be able to use particular software as is, whereas others may need to customize it. The evaluation team should consider if customization will be needed to meet the organization’s requirements. Customization adds to expenses upfront, and it can add to costs in the future when upgrading. Generally, it is less expensive to avoid customizing software.
The cost of the software will be an important consideration. This should be evaluated not only in terms of the initial expense, but should also account for the lifetime cost of ownership. Some factors in the lifetime cost may include seat licenses, maintenance, customizations, and annual license renewals.
Choosing the best business process modeling software can help the organization improve its return on investment (ROI). Business process modeling software allows the organization to capture and map its current business process. When a business process redesign initiative is undertaken, it can result in business process optimization. Business process modeling software is a key component of business process management, which also incorporates business process mapping and business process monitoring.
I believe the key issue or challenge with process modeling is the unfamiliarity of most business users and even analysts with how to do this and also the lack of availability of easy-to-use tools that are better than just using Visio or PowerPoint.
We have been using the AccuProcess Modeler in the recent months and have found this to be a great tool which anyone can use without a lot of formal training. It includes process modeling, documentation and even process simulation for the as-is and to-be processes. --Jenn R.