There is a prevalent concept in BPM UI that you can either have data driven, or process driven User Interfaces. When engaging with customers I hear the following types of comments all the time:
“ we don’t really have a process”
“ We absolutely need all this data and the user has to be able to go wherever they want, whenever”
“ Data is the most important aspect of the UI, we don’t really know what the users want so we just give it to them”
Anyone that says that their application does not really have a workflow or a process is either lazy, ignorant, or a bit of both. Anyone trying to complete a task in any type of UI has a process. It may not be obvious, it may indeed be buried in a ton of data, and the process itself may have multiple paths but there is always a process of some sort that can be optimized.
First, you have to be willing to find that process. You cannot just accept that someone does not have a process.
Second, you need to be creative in how you design for and present that process. There are many UI techniques that allow for the optimization of process, show the users the data they need, all the while creating an elegant UI.
Third, get a UI designer. a good one. Spend the time upfront on the design, do not just assume any vendor or homegrown solution out of the box is just going to provide a usable UI without any effort. The most flexible of vendor solutions will still allow you to mess up the design. Thats because BPM solutions are meant to be seamlessly integrated into your existing application suite.
Data driven and process driven UI can work hand in hand, but it does take some work. The most amount of work needs to be the UI design. While UI design should never be given the short stick, it really needs to be focused on when trying to provide a process focused experience with a robust and complex data design.