Mastering the Human Element in BPM

A new report from research firm Aberdeen Group, "BPM and Beyond: The Human Factor of Process Management," reveals that best-in-class companies are seeing significant and measurable improvements across key performance indicators thanks to their adoption of BPM technologies. According to the report, these forward-thinking companies are seeing:

  • 26% year-over-year weighted average reductions in operating costs;
  • 41% year-over-year weighted average improvements in customer responsiveness; and
  • 41% year-over-year weighted average increases in process efficiencies.

BPM’s popularity is growing because it specifically addresses these core areas that determine business performance. As the report states, "Particularly in light of today’s volatile economy, many organizations are looking to trim the fat off their operations. In a receding market, process agility is also an objective that many organizations strive for. In order to leverage business opportunities with a short window of execution, an organization must be able to adapt its processes quickly and efficiently."

Achieving the kinds of transformational results Aberdeen talks about requires moving beyond the antiquated notion of BPM as a system-to-system integration technology. The human element of how work gets done must be the primary focus—and the BPM technology used must be designed to support human-centric process improvement. Aberdeen says it this way:

"Recently, in order to gain even better visibility into their operational processes and deliver that visibility to the key business decision makers, organizations are now looking to a new generation of BPM solutions that strips away the need for programming expertise and makes BPM deployment far more palatable to a broader range of enterprises. Espousing the convergence of knowledge sharing, workflow management and analytics, the new generation of BPM tools expands beyond the IT user and enables business users to better understand and manage their business processes."

Based on Aberdeen’s assessment, the hallmarks of high-value BPM technologies are:

  • Ease of use: BPM is a "network effect" technology, meaning that its value increases the more broadly it is used. Technology that is designed for business-users, and that is 100% Web-based with no client-side downloads, drives the highest end-user adoption rates;
  • Comprehensiveness: A single integrated suite of process, analytics, content and collaboration capabilities will yield not only the most functionality, but also the fastest deployment times, the lowest maintenance costs and the easiest management of the BPM environment; and
  • Flexibility: Not only must business users be able to configure processes and customize user interfaces, IT must also be able to easily extend, integrate and personalize the BPM applications.

The Aberdeen report includes a BPM use case study on Concur, a provider of on-demand employee spend management solutions. The study encapsulates Aberdeen’s key points about the value of next-generation BPM that masters not only system-to-system automation, but also system-to-human and human-to-human interactions. Concur uses the Appian Enterprise BPM Suite.

BPM has entered the mainstream of business technology, and leading practitioners are seeing tremendous benefits that directly hit the bottom line. However, as the Aberdeen Group report shows, transformative business results from a process-centric approach require an advanced BPM technology underpinning that delivers powerful integrated functionality, but masks the technical complexity in order to put the power of process improvement in business users’ hands.

BPM at Concur
As a leading provider of on-demand employee spend management services, Concur is constantly searching for innovative ways to increase the quality and efficiency of its services. Because companies of all sizes depend on Concur, the company understands the vital importance of effective business processes.

Concur sought a solution that would streamline its business processes and reduce operating costs by improving internal controls and providing enhanced visibility and actionable process analysis. Concur’s customer implementation and support processes were not delivering the level of cross-departmental visibility and governance that Concur desired. The lack of a central source of information on procedures inhibited Concur’s success with process standardization and scalability, and also created the potential for information staleness. After an extensive search process, Concur selected a BPM platform that provided the ease of use necessary to achieve its goal of overall process maturity.

"Appian Enterprise enables Concur to easily increase the efficiency of our processes in response to the demands of our clients, increasing the quality and effectiveness of our services," reports Cristen Rankin, business process analyst at Concur. Since deployment, Concur has implemented 48 managed processes with Appian, and has seen an average reduction time for process completion of 20%. Most importantly, Concur estimates Appian has delivered an annual cost avoidance of greater than $700,000. Organizational goals around improving performance have turned into metrics and management-by-exception. In terms of continuous process improvement, Concur can run simulation and hypothesis testing on things like staffing resource requirements to measure the probable outcomes. The creation of process frameworks to formalize non-generic processes has greatly aided Concur’s organizational maturity. Measurement (and management) of interactions between humans, between systems and between humans and systems, has always been a part of the company’s structural DNA, and now that measurement can be conducted seamlessly using Appian.

Implementing a BPM solution has helped Concur to achieve its strategic business objectives. Specifically, BPM has driven Concur to become a more process-oriented organization through repeatable, automated processes that reduced its costs of doing business.

Appian ( is a leader in business process management, bringing innovation and delivering comprehensive, flexible and easy-to-use solutions tailored to the unique needs of individual organizations. Contact us at 703-442-8844, or

KMWorld Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues