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The Ultimate Process Management Software Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose The Perfect Platform

Blog: The Process Street Blog

process management softwareIf you need to manage any kind of recurring work in your team, but aren’t sure what to look for in a process management software, then this guide will give you all of the information you need to help you make sense of the marketplace and make the best decision possible.

In this Process Street guide you will find:

By the end of this guide, you will be ready & confident to identify & make a decision about your ideal process management software.

Signs you need process management software

Signs you need process management software

The difference between projects and processes

Let’s clarify the difference between projects and processes.

Both involve taking action on work to be done, with an end result in mind. A key difference is whether the steps and tasks to get to that end result are known up front.

A project is a one time undertaking. With a project, you have a goal in mind, but the tasks your team needs to complete that goal aren’t yet clear. You have to gather knowledge as you go, in order to determine what needs to be done. Once the project is done, it’s done — it’s unlikely you’ll need to manage that same project again, in the same way, with the same desired result.

A process is a recurring work pattern. With a process, you have an outcome in mind, and the tasks your team needs to complete in order to get to that outcome are known ahead of time. It’s a matter of how fast and well-coordinated your team can be as they carry out those tasks, and how consistent the outcome is, every time that outcome is reached, again and again.

Understanding the difference between project and process will help you make sense of the multitude of applications that are intended to help teams work better together. (Including some software companies that claim they can be used for process management, when they’re actually project management tools.)

You’ll also be equipped to explain to your team why, even if they use project management software for one-off projects, it makes sense to additionally use process management software for recurring work patterns.

Is process management software right for you?

Is process management software right for you

Do you have a process management culture in your team?

This is a question of culture fit; if your team has never considered process management seriously, it may be a barrier of entry.

If your team doesn’t understand the importance of process management, it’s unlikely that they will be enthusiastic about adopting a process management software.

They may not see the value of building and maintaining clear process documentation, with defined owners who are responsible for updating and continuously improving the processes they use as part of their daily work.

Making an effort to educate your team as to the benefits of process management can go a long way to making sure that you’re getting the most value out of your process management software.

One suggestion would be to drum up some excitement in your team by showing them how much time and manual work they could save by optimizing their processes. You’ll struggle to find a better way to convince your team that process management software is worthwhile than by showing them all of the ways it will make their life easier.

How do you expect your team to change in the short & long-term?

You won’t always know where your team will be in the future, but you can prepare by considering what you expect might change in the short and long-term to make sure your process management software will not be outdated in a few years.

Spend some time discussing how your team’s needs might change in the next few years to help you decide on the best platform that you will be able to rely on for years to come.

Have you clearly defined goals & expectations?

Sit down with a few key members of your team to discuss what you expect to get out of your process management software.

Making a list of specific requirements is often a good starting point. By making a checklist, you can prepare questions and address each requirement directly with your vendor.

4 questions to ask yourself before you buy

4 questions to ask yourself before you buy process management software

How does the expected ROI & time to ROI compare with your budget?

Obviously your budget will be one of the first considerations. The longer the setup time, the longer the expected time to ROI. This cost will compound if you need to pay for extra consulting or setup costs.

The price should be the highest value for the cost of initial purchase, maintenance, and any additional needs.

Ideally, a good process management software will allow you to benefit immediately from some kind of ROI, whether that’s by:

How long & complex will setup & implementation be?

And will it integrate easily with current systems?

If you’re looking at a 1-3 month setup time that requires dev resources to get everything hooked up to existing systems, those costs can quickly snowball.

The best process management solutions require basically zero setup, and certainly nothing from your engineering team.

You should be able to sign up, jump in, and start building & documenting your processes in minutes.

Can you use & benefit from the platform immediately?

Once you’re all set up, consider how long it will take your team to learn how to use the platform before you start to see value.

If the platform is intuitive and easy to use, you should be able to benefit on some level immediately, without enlisting additional expert or consultation services.

Consultation services can be a valuable supplement; speaking to process design experts about how to improve process efficiency & make the most of the software’s features can be very valuable.

But, you shouldn’t have to pay an extra overhead to simply start using the platform to manage your processes.

Will the platform scale as you grow your team?

When you invest in a process management software, you’re investing in the long-term development of your team’s operational efficiency.

Choosing a platform that is capable of supporting your growth is crucial to getting the most value out of a process management software.

If you need to train every new hire on how to use a complex, unintuitive software platform, that will inevitably form a bottleneck.

If the platform is intuitive and easy to use, and the vendor provides clear, well-documented help resources alongside a responsive and vigilant customer success squad, you should have everything you need to scale your team without worrying about hitting a brick wall.

What should you look for in a vendor?

what should you look for in a vendor

A thriving and diverse customer base

When your process management software vendor serves a customer base consisting of companies of many sizes, industries, consisting of teams with many departments, roles, and use cases, you can be assured that the solution they are offering is truly robust and representative of the cutting edge of process management software.

When a software can be used and provide maximum value to a small to mid-sized business, while at the same time used and championed by large enterprise organizations, it is a sign of flexible, well-designed software that can adapt to the needs of the user.

Pro-Tip: Research customer reviews on software you’re interested in using 3rd party SaaS review sites, like GetApp or Capterra, to get a better understanding of the vendor and if they’d be a good fit for your company.

A strong base of supporting staff

Process management software should be supported vendor-side by dedicated departments like:

Knowing that entire teams exist to support various aspects of your chosen process management software means you can be safe in the knowledge that you will reap the benefits for years to come.

Process consulting services to help with implementation

Consulting should not be necessary, but it can be a very powerful platform to take your process management software to the next level.

Consultation provided by process design experts can help you build and document your processes in a way that helps to save you even more time and money, by taking advantage of advanced features and best practices.

Often, basic training and guidance will be provided alongside initial purchase in the form of support by the customer success team. The customer success team should provide you with all of the support you need to make the most out of the process management software.

Security accreditation by recognized authorities

Your data is precious, and you owe it to your team and your customers to ensure that your process management platform has security accreditation by a recognized authority (e.g. SOC 2 Type II accreditation).

These kinds of accreditations are industry standard audits performed to make sure your vendor is securely managing your data, & typically granted by a 3rd party firm that has reviewed and examined your vendor’s objectives and activities to make sure that everything is operating with your best interests in mind.

Is a long-established pioneer in the space with top-tier investors

Consider when the company entered the space. Perhaps they are new, or relatively inexperienced – this could mean:

Older, more established companies with lots of experience and top investor backing will typically have:

Must-have features in process management software

Must-have features in process management software

BONUS: 5 tips to succeed with process management software

5 tips to success with process management software

This bonus section will outline best practices and approaches from process design experts to help you succeed with your process management software of choice.

People before processes

Ultimately, your processes are useless without the people behind them. Listen to feedback from your team and prioritize creating a healthy workplace culture that places people before processes.

The people on your team are the process owners. They are the ones who will maintain, update, and improve your internal processes. If you are trying to roll out process management software in your team, take the time to explain the benefits, and stress that this platform should make your team’s life easier, not the opposite.

Sometimes, people worry that process automation will displace their job security or make them obsolete. In fact, the opposite is true; process management software allows teams to eliminate tedious manual tasks and focus on the work that really matters.

Adopt an agile approach

Don’t worry about building the perfect process. A rough, imperfect, but complete and actionable process that you built in an evening is always far more valuable than a half-finished (but near perfect) process that you or your team have been chipping away at for weeks.

Get the basics down. Start using it. Figure out what could be improved, and make those changes on the fly.

This allows you to start benefiting from having a structured process immediately, and it also means you get to test how the process works in a real work environment, and figure out improvements.

There will always be improvements, so you can’t lose by focusing on building fast, working processes that you can test out ASAP.

Build a culture of continuous improvement

Continuous improvement is another agile idea that focuses on incremental improvements to an existing process.

Continuous improvement depends on a process management software that allows you to make quick edits and roll them out immediately without risk of breaking anything.

By clearly defining process ownership, and acknowledging the small wins and improvements that your team is making to your processes, you can encourage a culture of continuous improvement in your team.

Horizontalize your core team knowledge

Don’t restrict internal knowledge to a single team or department; with a process management software that allows seamless collaboration and document sharing, you can achieve horizontal knowledge distribution and improve interdepartmental collaboration.

Process Street allows you to bring anyone in your entire organization into a process workflow, where they can be assigned to tasks to collaborate, or simply glance at the current state of the process to understand who is working on it, and at what stage it is currently at.

Strive for process maturity & operational excellence

Operational excellence is what you achieve when you have well-documented processes that are also actionable, and the operational knowledge supporting your processes are baked into the actual work that you’re doing.

Your team can achieve operational excellence by using Process Street’s Pages and Workflows together to achieve the highest potential of your teams.

When your processes are actionable, and the operational knowledge supporting your processes is baked into the actual work that you’re doing — that’s operational excellence.

Execute work correctly, quickly, and confidently — with consistency. That’s where transforming your static documentation into actionable workflows adds so much more value to the business.

Did you find this guide helpful? Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!

The post Blog first appeared on Process Street | Checklist, Workflow and SOP Software.

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