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That being so, hosted BPM will diversify and further commoditize as the technology matures. Indeed, Palmer says most vendors of installed systems are launching hosted versions--they just aren't leading with them at this point. Also, discrete services created by the ASP using its hosted app will proliferate as SOA gets refined and, with more experience, BPM ASPs discover non-core--or even easily templated--services their customers most require. So choice won't be a problem; instead, discriminating between the real value of competing ASPs will be customers' biggest challenge.

Hosted BPM--automating quote management

Vurv is a developer of staffing software for recruiting, onboarding, performance and compensation management. In 2005, it experienced such growth that its manual quote management process became too slow and error-prone to keep up. Any BPM package for designing and automating the process, however, had to be affordable, quick and easy to implement, and integrate with Salesforce.com, the hosted CRM solution the company preferred. According to Kevin Marasco, VP of marketing, Vurv's goal was to automate and streamline the proposal process, providing consistency and maintaining control of a complex pricing model. The model was such because Vurv offers a suite of products sold in different combinations, and price is further determined by variables like the customer's number of employees, sales region, discount contracts and whether they buy by license or subscription. Vurv went with Nsite (nsite.com), a BPM ASP that specializes in quote management processes, and hosts and integrates with Salesforce.com.

Working with Vurv managers, Nsite designed a process that lets sales reps use the Salesforce.com interface to access the process residing in Nsite. Here the rep fills out a quote management page with pricing variables like services associated with the product. Nsite then automatically queries a price book to determine the price and routes the quote to the people who must approve it. When the quote is returned to the rep, he or she e-mails a PDF of it to the customer. The data entered into the Nsite database is then transferred to the Salesforce.com database via a Web service so that Vurv can forecast revenue and resources for BI-like reports from Nsite.

"Before the Nsite solution," Marasco says, "we had to rely on sales reps to manually key all [duplicate] data into Salesforce.com for forecasting."

He adds, "We were losing money before we got these guys on board--with the lack of controls and not having an automatic approval process, anybody could send a quote out to a client, and once they had it in their hands … that's it."

Like most ASPs, Nsite provides expedited training and ongoing support in the monthly subscription fee, but it also gave Vurv a significant discount because it uses only part of the application. With one good sale each month, Vurv pays off the subscription price of the system, according to Marasco.

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