In today’s climate of budget cuts and doing more with less, use of packaged software COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) and SAAS (Software as a Service) are key components of IT strategy. These solutions provide niche solutions and are used in many cases to meet non-core business functionality. For a company with a core financial services business, common examples are various Compliance and Regulatory applications, for example tax software (Income, Property, … Sales), or tracking of various certificates, Business Continuity Management, Risk Management, Market Intelligence, and CRM among others.
Assuming you already have a BPM solution in place, should one configure the niche functionality required using the BPM product or rather buy/subscribe to multiple packages/SAAS solutions and integrate /exchange data across the IT landscape?
Of course, the BPM solution will provide greater flexibility and will meet more requirements with less compromise, but there needs to be a detailed process design and requirement gathering session followed by configuration within the tool, testing etc which would lead to higher costs in comparison with a package. Very often, the reason for bringing in packaged software is for the Intellectual Property contained, as in-house capabilities may not be available for complex functionality. Perhaps, configuration within a BPM tool is feasible for more simpler processes, for example – approval processes, managing the generation, receipt, creation of certain documents and so on, whereas those requiring complex, specialized knowledge based on changing rules (e.g. tax) may be best left alone? Or will maintaining and configuring one application (BPM tool) result in lower costs over time ?
Perhaps the answer is for smaller COTS/SAAS companies to use a BPM tool to configure their solution on? The benefits would be enormous for all parties. More flexibility for the company as each customer could have custom screens with screen/field names and process adapted to the organizations terminology and for the software provider, the ability to keep up with demand for changes, expansion and more frequent releases, perhaps at a lower cost? And for the BPM tool provider, expanding market share and perhaps an “In” into an organization and future initiatives.
Some BPM companies have configured and are marketing solutions built on the platform rather than the platform itself. I personally know of two such companies – EMC and its Governance, Risk Management and Compliance product (eGRC), built on the BPM acquisition of Archer; and BISIL which has used its BPM Product (Enj) to power a Personal Income Tax offering (Taxshax).
These companies would need to keep their costs comparable with rival non-BPM based COTS/SAAS companies which might be a challenge depending on the underlying license model and costs.
Perhaps this might be the way forward for some BPM companies? Are there more examples to share?
Your feedback/comments are welcome.