Brave New World, or Enterprise Business Process Management: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

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According to market experts, the modern BPM concept of modelling business processes in software systems was formed around 2000s. In Russia, BPM systems emerged ten years after, and now the Russian market is booming. Experts believe that the main reason for it is that almost everything that could be optimized without BPM systems has already been optimized, and main market leaders are ready for the next step.

Defining BPM, EDM, ECM, CRM and ERP

The most of world BPM systems have emerged as independent units to provide businesses with digital transformation tools. Russian systems have grown out of electronic document management systems (EDMS).

Indeed, for many years Russian companies and public bodies have been trying to move all paperwork to digital. And as almost every internal process in a Russian organization required paperwork, document flow automation was in priority. However, classic EDM systems are becoming a thing of the past. Today, companies need to manage digital business processes.

Standard EDM systems have already been implemented in all big companies and public bodies. Therefore, EDM vendors have found new customers in small and medium-sized businesses, who are more focused on low-cost cloud solutions.

But the EDM market for large businesses did not cease to exist. It was transformed towards automating more than just standard document flow but business processes based on document exchange. Many companies who have implemented EDMS before now either switch to new, more functional solutions to cover more processes or upgrade existing solutions by adding new modules. Therefore, EDM and BPM markets in Russia have got so close that experts consider them as a single market.

EDMS developers improve workflow engines and build new modules to automate unique business processes (e.g., procurement planning, financial or technical documentation archives, legal activities, KPI management, etc.). As all ECM / BPM platforms are based on the same logic, customers do not have to stick to one platform: they can choose a required solution whatever platform it is based on.

This is what a typical ECM/BPM project for a large customer looks like. In 2014, Saint Petersburg Fuel & Energy company decided to switch to a more functional EDMS to automate more business processes. We implemented the Docsvision system: it helped to automate workflows (e.g., document exchange and approval) and processes like requesting and issuing passes, processing employee applications, organizing and managing meetings. Then the company decided to automate legal work by using Docsvision. In 2017, we implemented a legal work automation project by using existing solutions based on Docsvision.

BPM Today: Utopia or Possibility?

Now digital transformation of BPM is technically possible to be completed on one platform. Any modern EDMS with a BPM engine can be used for that. It has to be modular and agile to make it easier for non-IT specialists to configure it.

Docsvision is one of such platforms. The analytical centre TAdviser ranked Docvision among three most popular BPM systems in Russia, and Digital Design among the top 5 BPM development companies. For us, it is more than just a software platform: it has become a native habitat for many our products. Over decades Digital Design teams have created a good product line and helped hundreds of customers to launch digital transformation. Docsvision can be a platform for automation of almost all enterprise business processes from document management to automation of audit, control and risk assessment, and running remote meetings.

For example, a few years ago we completed a large project for a big hardware retail chain. We transferred all back-office services to a single Docsvision-based system: we automated applications processing in the IT, legal, marketing and merchandising departments. Also, the system covered operation services, contracts and documents management.

Our project for Cetelem Bank can be an example as well. Using Docsvision we automated legal work and introduced a service for suspected frauds notifications.

What May Lie Ahead In 2021?

We can define main trends of the ECM/BPM market that are relevant in 2020 and will remain in 2021-2022:

  • ECM and BPM systems will keep merging. Niche solutions for document management are still present on the market. However, they are diminishing year by year. Many vendors who previously focused on the EDMS market now provide their solutions with a strong workflow engine for managing other business processes.
  • Systems will improve cybersecurity. As more business processes will become digital, the system protection must become more reliable.
  • Cloud systems will grow. This trend is related to cybersecurity. There are BPM systems supporting the cloud model, but the problem of cloud migration is that companies are still unwilling to deploy data there.
  • We will implement intelligent algorithms (Big Data, Machine Learning). Systems accumulate a lot of data, so, new tools are required for its operational analytical processing.

No company has ever abandoned paper documents and switched to digital completely so far. The structure of business processes usually cannot allow it. However, as we witness the growing number of projects, we see that more companies are moving towards it and seeing positive effect in digital transformation.