Business Management Presentations Process Management

Thinking Beyond Traditional BPM


A white paper that I wrote on "smart process applications" (a Forrester term, but one being adopted by case management vendors), sponsored by OpenText.


© 2013 Kemsley Design Ltd.
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Thinking Beyond Traditional BPM
Managing The Customer Lifecycle In An
Information-Rich Environment
As we move from processing transactions and managing the
lifecycle of enterprise content towards a more holistic view of the
entire customer lifecycle, we need to consider the myriad content
and process activities that make up the complete customer
relationship. These information-rich processes require more than a
traditional enterprise process application can provide: they need an
integrated set of capabilities centered on business processes, but
also including capture, content, customer experience management
and more.
This white paper discusses the shortcomings of traditional
enterprise process management, and how an emerging breed of
packaged, process-centric applications – dubbed “Smart Process
Applications” – combine information, communication, collaboration
and process to offer greater targeted functionality with a shorter
deployment time.
The Problem With Traditional Enterprise
Process Applications
The history of process management in the enterprise started with
custom legacy systems and heavily-customized ERP
implementations – many still in use today – where the focus is on
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structured, repeatable processes. Processes are hard-coded and
not easily modified. Each system contains its own silo of
information that makes up just one part of a customer view, and
integration between systems and data sources can be difficult.
Next was the advent of business process management suites
(BPMS), process-centric technology stacks used as application
development environments to allow organizations to build their
own applications, similar to other enterprise software
implementations. Although they provide the benefit of model-driven
development for process applications, BPMS are most often used
within more traditional software development methodologies to
create process-aware applications or embed process management
capabilities within existing enterprise applications. BPMS
alleviated some of the legacy/ERP issues by accessing the multiple
systems’ functions and data as services to be assembled into
configurable, yet typically structured, processes within the BPMS.
As well as this integration and orchestration function, a modern
BPMS may also provide additional capabilities such as business
rules, event handling, and analytics. However, the focus is, for the
most part, on managing the lifecycle of a specific transaction: a
process starts for a transaction such as an address change on a
customer record, it executes the predefined steps, and it finishes.
There’s little linkage with other processes that might be going on
for that same customer at the same time, and often little context
for performing that transaction.
There are three major indicators that one of these types of
enterprise process management may not be a good fit for your
Workers need to use multiple systems to get their work done,
often with a combination of enterprise process applications, other
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data sources, and end-user computing tools such as spreadsheets.
They frequently have to work around the predefined process in
some way, especially for collaboration and customer
communication. The systems may be augmented or integrated in
an ad hoc, unsupported manner in an attempt to improve the
functionality and information context.
Enterprise process applications are overkill for the business
area, requiring technical infrastructure and implementation efforts
beyond your budget. They may be dependent on a larger process
improvement effort, even if the business doesn’t require it.
Enterprise process applications are too generic for the
business area, providing a toolkit for building applications, but
inadequate templates with few best practices included.
If you’re looking for a packaged application that includes content,
collaboration and customer communication in addition to business
processes, then a traditional enterprise process system – whether
legacy, ERP or BPMS – may not be a good fit.
The Rise Of Smart Process Applications
Forrester Research defines Smart Process Applications1 as process-
centric and content-rich packaged applications that combine
information, process, collaboration, analytics, rules and best
practices. Compared to existing solution categories, they’re a
combination of content capture, enterprise content management
(ECM), correspondence management, BPM, adaptive/dynamic case
management (ACM/DCM), analytics, collaboration and social
enterprise functions, plus portals for knowledge workers and
customers (both internal and external). Forrester created this
1 “Smart Process Applications Fill A Big Business Gap”, Andrew Bartels
and Connie Moore, Forrester Research Inc., 8 August 2012
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classification based on their analysis of existing packaged
applications, but vendors are beginning to create new products to
fit the classification, such as OpenText’s Assure for HR and
Customer Service solutions.
Smart Process Applications are often created by vendors with a
great deal of practical industry knowledge, either through their role
as a business process outsourcer, or through a close affiliation
with industry organizations. In either situation, a version of the
application may be used in a closely-related organization that
provides feedback to the vendor on required functionality.
Core to Smart Process Applications is the customer case, where a
case is not a single transaction, but an ongoing customer-focused
artifact that contains related content, and has processes and
events act upon it throughout the customer lifecycle. In addition to
the content-rich case paradigm, there are a number of key features
of Smart Process Applications that set them apart from traditional
enterprise process applications:
 Information context for working on a case, through tight
integration with structured and unstructured customer
information, analytics of related cases, and general
knowledge bases
 Content capture, including paper, e-forms, email and social
 Content creation and distribution, including external
customer correspondence
 Collaborative and structured processes
 Encapsulation and enforcement of business rules and best
practices, which may automatically trigger actions such as
adding tasks to the case
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 Knowledge worker portal, including skills-based routing,
and user customization to allow the worker to organize their
 Customer/employee self-service portal, allowing them to
participate in case tasks without exposure to the underlying
complexity, and tracking their actions and preferences
These are not loosely-coupled functions, but an integrated set of
capabilities for managing the customer lifecycle. This allows the
application to be implemented primarily through configuration
rather than customization, allowing for rapid deployment.
Forrester defines over 20 examples of Smart Process Applications;
most of these are for horizontal functions including HR
management, contract management, or customer support, where
structured processes combine with collaboration and content to
manage the lifecycles of employees, suppliers or customers. Some
vertical applications are also emerging, such as fund management
middle-office functions, and disability insurance claims. Each of
these is a (mostly) out-of-the-box packaged application with strong
process and content requirements, providing the entire context for
knowledge workers and customers to get their work done.
How does this fit with the modern BPMS? Currently, general
purpose BPMS are used by application developers to add process
functionality to existing enterprise applications, to build custom
process applications, or in a middleware role to orchestrate and
integrate existing applications. Although often augmented by best
practice templates (which range from little more than sales or
training tools, to full vertical frameworks), BPMS tend to be used in
more traditional IT application development lifecycles. BPM
systems are migrating into complete application development
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environments; as that occurs, they will increasingly be used to
create Smart Process Applications.
Benefits And Challenges
Smart Process Applications provide significant benefits when there
is a good fit with the business requirements:
Domain knowledge and best practices. Smart Process
Applications embody a significant amount of intellectual property
regarding the specific industry, such as pre-built business
processes, rules and work styles. They tend to be more attractive to
business people selecting a solution since the applications speak
the industry language fluently, often including such features as
pre-built management and monitoring with quality algorithms and
productivity reports.
Configuration-only implementation. The underlying domain
expertise tends to result in faster deployment, since almost
everything required for a specific application is available out-of-
the-box and only requires configuration by business process
analysts, not development. This works best for business-driven
implementations where there is a preference for packaged
applications, especially for commodity functionality that requires
only a minor amount of configuration. If the requirements are quite
different from the application, it may offer little benefit, or even act
as a detriment. A BPMS vendor that also offers Smart Process
Applications may be beneficial to organizations requiring both the
packaged applications and a BPM toolkit for building custom
process applications in-house.
Integrated environment for process, content, collaboration and
customer communication. Smart Process Applications are not
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just process: they provide an interface to all of the information and
functions required to manage all aspects of the customer lifecycle.
In addition to providing workers with a consolidated workplace
environment, and providing customers with a single point of access,
this level of integration allows for consolidated monitoring,
reporting, service level agreements, escalations and audit trails.
The result: less information fragmentation, and greater cross-
channel consistency. Although the knowledge workers’
environment may be more complex than any one of the
applications that they used prior to the smart process application,
it is significantly less complex and more consistent than the
combination of non-integrated applications previously used.
Improved quality and efficiency of work. Although not often
cited as a metric in collaborative systems, Smart Process
Applications can yield the type of quality and efficiency
improvements usually targeted by traditional enterprise process
applications. Improved information context allows knowledge
workers to perform their work with less time spent switching
between applications and searching for information. Best practices
and business rules guide their actions for more consistent results.
Collaboration allows them to quickly request assistance from more
knowledgeable colleagues. Semi-automated, template-driven
customer communication speeds responses to customer requests.
Smart Process Applications are not without challenges and
controversy: the emerging market segment is defined on an after-
the-fact categorization of existing packaged applications that
include some amount of process and collaboration. As new
applications emerge that attempt to conform to the characteristics
in that definition, the definition may continue to shift. Furthermore,
with no standards for architecture or integration, these packaged
applications risk becoming islands of information and functionality
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if they are unable to adapt and expand: the new legacy
applications, on a smaller scale.
In situations requiring a multi-function, packaged application,
Smart Process Applications are emerging as a way to deploy
collaborative, information-rich functionality with a minimum of
customization. Unlike traditional enterprise process applications,
including those built using a BPMS, Smart Process Applications
are ready-made systems to solve specific business needs.
About The Author
Sandy Kemsley is an independent analyst, process architect and
blogger specializing in business process management. She
performs engagements for both end-user organizations and BPM
vendors across North America, writes the popular “Column 2” blog
at and is a featured conference speaker on BPM.
© 2013 Kemsley Design Ltd.
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About The Sponsor
OpenText is transforming BPM with the introduction of Smart
Process Applications, a new breed of process automation solutions
that help optimize the dynamic and collaborative processes that all
organizations must deal with. These processes include people,
process, and information in an ad-hoc or dynamic environment,
and have been extremely difficult to automate and enhance with
traditional applications or BPM solutions.
Smart Process Applications combine structured and dynamic BPM
functionality with content management, document capture,
collaboration, customer communications, and data analytics to
build solutions that “tame” these highly variable and loosely
coupled processes. They eliminate the unmanaged workaround
solutions that knowledge workers often use to get their work done.
The result of deploying Smart Process Applications is lower process
costs, reduced operational risk (as previously unmanaged
processes are now being managed), and improved service to
process participants inside and outside the firewall.
To create and deploy high-value Smart Process Applications,
OpenText offers Assure, which combines pre-built modules,
services, forms, reports, and analytics based on industry best
practices, and orchestrates them with a robust BPM system.
Assure dramatically shortens the time and reduces the cost of
building and deploying Smart Process Applications. OpenText also
offers two packaged Smart Process Applications based on Assure,
including Assure for HR, and Assure for Customer Service.
OpenText Assure for HR offers a flexible case management and
employee self-service experience to help effectively manage and
rapidly deliver HR process services supporting recruitment, on-
boarding, training, benefits, appraisals, and more. OpenText
Assure for HR helps your organization:
 Increase HR staff productivity and compliance, by
automatically assigning requests based on workload and
skillsets, formalizing best practice processes, and
guaranteeing compliance through an audit trail.
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 Provide better service to employees, by tracking progress of
requests, access documentation, search, and receiving
notifications with a personalized self-service portal.
 Optimize the flexible, collaborative case and knowledge
management processes, supporting structured and
unstructured processes, automating email correspondence,
and integrating into your existing HR systems.
 Improve visibility with access dashboards with HR
operational, service level, and compliance metrics.
 Eliminate paper-based employee files and processes, and
improving the capture, management, and retention of
important records.
OpenText Assure for Customer Service enhances your service
capabilities by facilitating prescriptive response paths, intuitive
self-service offerings, automated correspondence, performance
reporting, multi-system data integration, change management, and
case load reduction capabilities. With OpenText Assure for
Customer Service you can:
 Improve customer experiences by responding to customers
quickly while significantly reducing reliance upon IT.
 Accelerate decision-making by applying metric-driven
justification for process improvements with dashboards and
 Reduce business risk with a flexible solution that provides
consistent execution and helpful guardrails, while reducing
training time for new and existing staff.
 Gain better insight by navigating across channels and legacy
systems to get a 360 degree view of the customer experience.
By taking advantage of our Smart Process Application factory
approach and out-of-the-box process components, new HR and
customer service capabilities can be deployed in approximately
25% of the time compared to rigid, packaged application
approaches, and provide a best-practices based solution to your
toughest organizational challenges.
To learn more about Assure, visit us at:

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