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BPM Software-based Procurement in an Era of New Federal Mandates

Ben Farrell
May 20, 2011

In government agency acquisition and procurement, BPM software offers two clear roads to follow. An agency can either choose BPM as a bolt-on to an enterprise software suite or a dedicated full-featured system.

Both approaches have their merits. BPM as an add-on to an enterprise ERP system, for example, can fill the "white space" of functionality that ERP doesn't cover (and there's lots of that). However, this will not overcome the inherent inflexibility and "one-size-fits-all" nature of ERP and other commercial procurement solutions. Using a BPM platform for end-to-end procurement provides all the process benefits of BPM (visibility, control, continuous improvement, etc.) while also providing a flexible framework that can be personalized to the unique procurement needs of an individual agency or procurement team. That's what our Acquisition Business Management (ABM) solution delivers. Click here to listen to a recent webinar where Marvin V. Griffin, Enterprise Architect at Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), talks about his agency's use of Appian ABM.

Given the continued consolidation in the BPM space, with many best-of-breed BPM vendors now swallowed up (and imperfectly-integrated) into established enterprise stacks, federal procurement professionals at least have the luxury of a focused field of competitors from which to make their decision.

Whether opting for a dedicated or add-on approach, agencies would do well to weigh their purchase options in light of current federal guidelines. In December 2010, the Office of Management and Budget announced a 25-point plan to restructure federal IT. Among those was an initiative aimed at "applying light technology shared solutions."

This OMB initiative is aimed at increasing collaboration in and among agencies while also adopting a "cloud first" policy for new technology. If you know anything about Appian technology, you know both of those are major differentiators for us.

Government technology trends overall are making both collaboration and "cloud" applications a bulwark for improved service in government. These "social" technologies, along with mobility, address the government's need for process improvement and keep pace with younger workers' expectations for telework and knowledge sharing. Social BPM and Mobile BPM are, again, areas where Appian has a decided innovation edge in the market.

In this continuing period of budget austerity, improving the procurement process is essential. The best choice not only embraces the benefits of BPM, but also supports existing guidelines for federal procurement while providing the ease of change to meet new guidelines in the future.

-Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications