Skip to main content

Removing the Concrete Shoes with BPM Software

Ben Farrell
January 12, 2012

Forrester analyst Craig Le Clair has published an excellent report called "Stuck In Cement: When Packaged Apps Create Barriers To Innovation." In his related blog post, he frets that "concrete" is the more apt, but less poetic analogy. Based on the research findings, I suggest "Packaged Apps Are the Concrete Shoes Pulling Business Down." That's how dire a picture Craig paints, but he offers a ray of hope by positing that BPM Software is the answer.

Here are some startling facts:

ERP software maintenance fees alone "represented one-third if enterprise IT software budgets in 2010, with license fees accounting for another 25%." That's right: just keeping the ERP lights on eats up more than half of the total IT budget.

Perhaps that would be acceptable if ERP software delivered what the business needs today, but Craig shows that it clearly does not. Of ERP and other monolithic packaged apps he states, "These systems have developed inflexible architectures and have become aligned with silos built around business functions that now present a serious barrier to many fast-moving companies." In other words, the limited extensibility of those apps leaves them stuck in business silos that they then help perpetuate, while required business functions existing in the white space between packaged apps continues to be paper- and email-based, cumbersome and non-standardized.

What's the Conclusion?

Craig states that, "Enterprises that deployed ERP six to nine years ago are now questioning the budget for upgrades - and they should." Business has changed dramatically in that time - and the rate of change is increasing. The business "wants more value and is reluctant to invest just to maintain functionality that many already view as lacking."

What's the Alternative?

Craig says that what's required is a "Process-first Perspective" based on "an outside-in focus that starts with the needs of the customer." To paraphrase again: build your business processes based on what's going to optimize the customer experience, not based on the limited capabilities of your packaged apps.

How Do You Get There?

Do you need to take a jackhammer to the cement (or concrete) for a massive "rip and replace"? Luckily, no (have you ever used a jackhammer? It's hard and slow work.). Instead, you can get the new and flexible functionality you need, and breathe new life into those legacy systems, by overlaying your packaged apps with a flexible process layer. In Craig's words, "In the future, companies will address process and application gaps not by customizing on-premises software, but by linking best-of-breed applications using accessible and adaptable processes built on top of Dynamic Case Management or BPM Suites."

What's the Next Step?

Modern BPM software, with native mobile and social capabilities, is creating a seismic shift in corporate IT. Contact Appian to learn more about removing the concrete shoes.

-Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications