Skip to main content

The IT Leader’s Guide to Evaluating Process Orchestration Tools

Roland Alston, Appian
May 15, 2024

IT leaders who want to scale operations to meet future business needs face an epic challenge—improving operational efficiency while managing risk, ever-growing IT backlogs, and stakeholder expectations. That's where process orchestration comes into play. 

Process orchestration is not just about efficiency and scale. It's a transformative approach that revolutionizes how work gets done. By automating routine tasks, it frees up your workforce to focus on strategic initiatives. It enables you to deliver a seamless customer experience where every moment is crucial. Most importantly, it empowers your organization to grow and adapt without compromising your digital transformation journey.

But here's the kicker: not all process orchestration tools are created equal. It's like picking the right tool for a job. You need to know what to look for, what really matters, and how to evaluate the features and functionality. Integration capabilities? Check. Scalability? Double check. Ease of use? Absolutely. Security? Don't automate without it. In this guide, we'll break it down for you. We'll show you how to separate the best tools from the rest, the game-changers from the pretenders. So get ready for a journey to process orchestration excellence.


Why process orchestration and automation tools matter

As you consider process orchestration tools, it's crucial to understand why they're not just nice-to-haves but absolute necessities in today's digital landscape. With the process orchestration market projected to soar from $4.6 billion in 2023 to a jaw-dropping $11.2 billion in 2028, it's clear that the demand for orchestration tools is growing exponentially.

With this trend ushering in a new era of hyperautomation, let's turn our attention to the task of selecting the right process orchestration tool for your organization. In our next section, "Best Practices for Orchestration Tool Evaluation," we'll break down the key factors you need to consider to ensure that you're not just keeping pace with automation trends but leading the charge toward operational excellence.


[Download the Gartner Market Guide to Business Process Automation Tools for expert guidance on business process automation vendors.]


Best practices for evaluating orchestration tools

Define requirements

Know what you need. Define your objectives and requirements before diving into the sea of process orchestration tools. What are you hoping to achieve? What specific business processes do you need to streamline or automate? By setting clear goals from the get-go, you'll ensure that you're evaluating tools based on their ability to meet your organization's unique needs.


Integration capabilities

Now, let's talk about compatibility. Your orchestration tool needs to play nice with the rest of your tech stack. Seamless integration is a must, whether it's your CRM system, ERP software, or cloud platform. Look for a tool with robust integration capabilities, allowing you to connect the dots and streamline data flow across your entire digital ecosystem.


Scalability and performance

Think long-term. As your organization grows and evolves, so too should your orchestration tool. Scalability is key. You need a solution that can handle your current workload while flexing its muscles to accommodate future growth. But it's not just about size; performance matters, too. Look for a tool that can deliver lightning-fast results without breaking a sweat.

Ease of use and flexibility

Time is money, and nobody has time for clunky, complicated software. Your orchestration tool should be a breeze to use, even for business stakeholders. Look for intuitive interfaces, drag-and-drop functionality, and customizable workflows that empower your team to get things done without feeling like they’re herding cats. And while you're at it, make sure the tool is flexible enough to adapt to your changing needs without requiring a Ph.D. in computer science.


[Download the eBook: The 5 Best Practices for Workflow Orchestration and discover how to manage your people, systems, and data in a single platform.]


Security and compliance

Last but certainly not least, let's talk about security. You can't afford to cut corners in today's ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. Your orchestration tool must be Fort Knox-level secure, with robust encryption, access controls, and audit trails to keep your data safe. And let's not forget compliance. Whether it's GDPR (9 General Data Protection Regulation), HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), or PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), your tool shouldn’t cut corners in ensuring that your business stays on the right side of the law.


Vendor reputation and support

Next, let's talk about trust. When it comes to choosing an orchestration tool, the vendor behind the curtain matters—a lot. Do your homework. Research their reputation, dig into their track record, and suss out their experience in the world of process orchestration. But it's not just about what they've done in the past; it's also about how they'll support you in the future. Look for vendors who offer top-notch customer support, comprehensive training programs, and ongoing maintenance services to ensure you're not just buying a tool but investing in a partnership.


[Check out our process automation overview page and learn more about how process automation works and how to implement it.]


Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Okay, now it’s time to crunch some numbers. Sure, sticker shock can be a buzzkill, but don't let upfront costs blind you to the bigger picture. When evaluating orchestration tools, consider the total cost of ownership (TCO), including initial expenses and long-term investments. But don't just focus on the dollars and cents; think about the value creation potential, too. Will this tool deliver tangible productivity gains, cost savings, and revenue growth over time? If the answer is yes, it might be worth the investment.

Now that we've covered the essentials of evaluating process orchestration tools, in our next section, "Orchestration Tool Evaluation Scorecard," we'll provide you with a handy tool to help you compare and contrast different options and make an informed decision that fits your organization's needs. So grab your pen and paper (or your favorite note-taking app), because we're about to dive into scoring and selecting the perfect process orchestration tool for your business.


Orchestration tool evaluation scorecard

Choosing the right process orchestration tool can be challenging, but our tool evaluation scorecard is your cheat sheet for operational excellence. This customizable tool allows you to rate and compare different orchestration tools based on key criteria, such as integration capabilities, scalability, ease of use, security, vendor reputation, and total cost of ownership. Armed with this scorecard, you can cut through the noise and make a decision that delivers the most value for your investment. So grab your scorecard, and let's get down to business.

After you've tallied the scores, you can confidently select the orchestration tool that aligns with your digital transformation goals. That said, let's turn our gaze to the road ahead.


Reinventing automation in the age of acceleration

In the age of exponential change, organizations must be fast innovators and quick to adapt to stand out from competitors. The most successful IT leaders go beyond task-level automation. They embrace holistic process orchestration strategies that seamlessly integrate humans, systems, and digital workers, laying the foundation for sustainable innovation and growth. 


[Everest rated Appian a Leader in its PEAK Matrix Report for Process Orchestration for 2023.]