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iBPM: Everything You Need To Know

Intelligent Business Process Management (iBPM) refers to the designing, mapping, execution, and management of business processes.

iBPM tools allow you to do things like draw out a process diagram, flesh out a checklist of items involved in a process, and build an app to execute processes—like for example, the creation of an application for the reporting of workplace accidents or injuries.  

Benefits of iBPM

The need for iBPM platforms has increased significantly over the last few years, especially with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, the creation of new applications has been the responsibility of IT. But as digital transformation efforts accelerated in the latter half of the 2010s, IT became increasingly inundated with requests to build internal solutions for the business. Such solutions typically take 6-9 months to build custom. iBPM tools were introduced to help organizations reduce the barrier to entry for internal application development, and in turn to free up a bit of IT’s bandwidth and time. 

Today, most iBPM tools enable users—through a low-code UI—to map out the business logic underlying business applications, as well as build basic interfaces. And they have succeeded in helping professional developers build internal tools faster. Likewise, they’ve empowered technically savvy non-developers to participate in the creation of rudimentary applications themselves. 

iBPM tools are powerful, but at the same time, they come with certain limitations that organizations should be mindful of. 

Limitations of iBPM

To start, iBPM platforms are difficult to use unless you’ve been trained to code. Though many iBPM platforms claim to be “low-code,” those using them to build applications still need to be highly skilled and trained in software development techniques and best practices, such as following the software development lifecycle process for development, testing, and pushing to production. 

Additionally, iBPM platforms require users to follow explicit revision controls and documentation practices, so the application can be maintained in the future, and even to understand more nuanced software development attributes, such as proper coding syntax, data structures, data typing, data manipulation, indexing, and search techniques. 

All told, this results in iBPM platforms being poorly matched for enabling citizen development or for serving as a core means of business enablement. We all know that only a small subset of workers are so versed in these areas..

iBPM platforms, on an individual basis, are likewise relatively limited in functionality. They’re great for helping teams map out business logic and for creating non-complex workflow solutions with basic user interfaces, but iBPM platforms have relatively limited ability to connect to or integrate with existing systems. What integration capabilities they do have, generally, require additional technical resources or developers to implement and manage. 

This makes using iBPM platforms for business enablement doubly challenging. iBPM tools require users to adopt a totally new system in order to automate a workflow. This itself creates difficulties in cross-departmental, cross-system processes because it mandates significant change management for both technical and business teams. 

Take the process of handling new contracts, for example. A company might try to build a forms-based workflow using their iBPM platform to help their legal team manage this process atop, say, their matter management system. However, this ultimately requires other parties that request contracts, like sales, HR, finance, etc., to also adopt this application to request and manage legal contracts. This not only creates complexity of data—you want to tie contracts to CRM records—but also complexity for people, who must now navigate to yet another system to get work done.

How to get the most out of iBPM today

Much is changing about the way technology solutions are built—and how, in turn, technology is used to increase efficiency and innovative capacity. The world is moving toward a place where business users, who are most intimately familiar with the problems technology is used to solve, are the ones emboldened to lead the charge in the design and deployment of workflow solutions. 

Strategic utilization of iBPM will play an important role in bringing that world to light, but iBPM cannot manifest that reality on its own. Instead, it should be used as an individual instrument in a larger technological orchestra. In this orchestra, tools that integrate systems (iPaaS) play a role, as do tools that automate repetitive tasks (RPA) and, of course, systems that facilitate the creation of new apps (iBPM). What is still missing is a tool that allows you to use these different kinds of solutions in harmony with your people, systems, and tools. 

That is where process orchestration, such as that provided by the Tonkean composable business operations platform, comes into play. Process orchestration sits one layer above your automation solutions, so they can orchestrate—execute, monitor, and manage—entire business processes across systems, departments, and teams. 

Process orchestration empowers organizations to employ the benefits of tools like iBPM in a way that transcends their limitations. Tonkean, for example, does this by empowering IT to deliver reusable building blocks that allow business users to compose their own custom workflows via the Tonkean no-code workflow builder, which abstracts programming constructs and applies programming best practices. These building blocks can facilitate integrations to 1000+ enterprise systems, extend custom applications, process unstructured data (like emails, chat, documents, etc.) using NLP and OCR, facilitate people coordination, and more. 

In short, Tonkean provides companies a means to extend the capabilities of their existing tools that normally require custom coding with a dedicated development team, all while maintaining security and compliance.

Moving forward

iBPM is powerful technology that has an important role to play as society moves toward greater digital transformation, but its role is more specific than vendors sometimes make it out to be. One key to success in your use of iBPM, if you’ve invested in the technology, is using it in strategic conjunction with other automation tools—under the umbrella of process orchestration—to empower your organization more holistically. 

Click here to learn more about how Tonkean can help you make that happen.

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