Traditional BPM vs. SharePoint: There’s Room for Both in the EnterpriseFebruary 8, 2012 4 Comments
By David A. Kelly, Upside Research
Today’s organizations have plenty of options when it comes to managing business processes, from informal or manual methods to software-based collaboration and workflow solutions. The past decade has seen a rise in every type of business process management solution imaginable: vertically focused, task-focused, cloud-based, adapted to the mobile workforce.
The real challenge for IT and business managers is knowing what to use when, and how to find a business process management solution that will provide the most long-term agility and best business value without requiring huge investments of time, money, human capital or other resources. Some business processes lend themselves better to certain solutions; making this distinction upfront can save on development costs, lost productivity, and the negative impact on a business that can result from choosing the wrong technology.
With the pervasiveness of Microsoft and Windows in most enterprise environments today, many process managers are questioning how Microsoft’s BPM solution, SharePoint Server can be leveraged in their existing Microsoft-centric environments. I thought it worthwhile to consider how Microsoft SharePoint Server can work within the enterprise in conjunction with existing BPM solutions. Here are a few areas where organizations should consider using Microsoft SharePoint:
- For content aggregation. Business users that need to create intranets, build business portals, manage content and enhance collaboration will find SharePoint to be a valuable tool.
- For creating approval workflows. SharePoint document libraries can be configured to require approval before a document can be “published” and viewed by anyone other than the person trying to publish it or by site administrators.
- For creating other basic workflows. Power users can create disposition approval workflows, collect feedback or signature workflows, or three-state workflows. In these instances, power users can work within SharePoint to create these flows using the out-of-box workflows available.
As soon as you start needing customization or integration with legacy or other enterprise platforms, it may make more sense to select an enterprise BPM solution instead of Microsoft SharePoint. These solutions typically come with business rules engines that can define and govern processes with logic that is independent of the workflow providing greater flexibility and faster change when needed. Also, many BPM solutions include integration capabilities in the form of API’s and out-of-box connectors to popular enterprise solutions found inside most large organizations. Additionally, enterprise BPM solutions provide the capability to more easily extend a complex business process across departments, and out to partners, customers, and other valued affiliates.
As you can see, there are time when Microsoft SharePoint is perfectly adequate for the business process task at hand. But, as soon as you step into customization or complex development to take SharePoint beyond its original functionality, many organizations are better off seeking an enterprise BPM solution to assist them. Selecting the right tool from the beginning can eliminate headaches down the road, control costs, avoid expensive custom development, and ultimately better serve the business processes that are being optimized.Analyst Blog