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FDA Shows How to Get Started with BPM

Malcolm Ross, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Appian
October 12, 2010

"The longest journey begins with a single step." That old saying is as fitting for introducing new software applications as it for any other job. Taking a BPM journey is transformative for government, but getting started with that first step can seem daunting.

When it comes to carefully wading into the BPM waters, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a prime example of how to do it right. The FDA was interested in BPM in support of a strategic vision to transformits operations in response to emerging scientific, technological, and economic trends affecting its regulatory mission. This vision reflects the principles of productivity and accountabilityinitiated back in 2002 in theE-Government Act, and carried forward by the current administration's efforts to make sure our government is "running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible."

The FDA eased into BPM by initiating a pilot program so it could assess the technology. For the pilot, the agency selected the Appian BPM Suite. Working on the pilotincreased the agency's internal BPM competency. Based on that, the FDAexpanded to four separate BPM deployments that were self-contained and specific in scope. These projects further increased the FDA's BPM comfort level with BPM technology and methodology. As various Centers within the FDA began to see the power of BPM ñ and how it could improve their core business functions ñ the FDAdecided to make BPM available agency-wide.

Recently, the FDA formalized that decision via a new five-year Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) making Appian BPM available across all FDA Centers. With all options, the contract value exceeds $12M. (For more information on the agreement, see the FDA press release from Appian here.)

The FDA's measured approach to BPM implementation is ideal for agencies with interest in the software, but an insufficient level of understanding and experience. When you break down the process of BPM adoption, you'll find that each step gives you more confidence to take the next. Sooner than you think, you'll be well on your way to improving how your agency executes its mission.

BPM is a journey of rich reward. Why not take the first step?