Business process management software - being coded in a sophisticated text editor.


How to select the best business process management software

Finding the best business process management software is hard. Most classic tools are too complex for normal companies. Others merely manage tasks. This guide covers 27 requirements to use when finding the tool that’s best for a medium-sized organisation.

This is what you will find in this guide:

Who is the guide for?

We have written this guide for managers and executives in medium-sized businesses and organisations that want to succeed in business processes.

How business process management software can help

Business process management is a comprehensive effort to visualise, execute, improve and manage your company’s recurring work across roles, on an ongoing basis and on one single platform.

Organisations buy and deploy process management software to get the tooling they need to succeed with business processes. What is a success in this case? Success can be to…

  • Standardise your ways of working
  • Ensure faster employee onboarding (interested in how? read our guide to employee onboarding)
  • Retain knowledge in a system (and not in the minds of individuals)
  • Allow your company to grow and scale faster
  • Improve business processes to reduce waste and errors
  • Digitise and automate paperwork to save time
  • Increase compliance with external standards such as ISO or GDPR
Graph for Time spent on Ad-hoc vs Process work

There are hundreds of tools out there. Each Depending on your own success definition and your current systems you may need different types of software to help you.

Eight requirements for business process management software

The best business process management software solution will allow you to say a clear “yes!” to (almost all of these criteria):

  1. Easy to implement and use for both administrators and end-users
  2. Makes the standard way of working easy to understand
  3. Enables ongoing communications and feedback so everyone is involved
  4. Makes processes easier to execute the right way
  5. Collects input and data to improve business processes
  6. Integrates with other systems to automate tasks
  7. Ensures solid governance around processes

#1 Easy to implement and use

Before we jump into looking at the different business process management software solutions out there, we need to highlight the fact that the tool isn’t the goal. The goal is the people in your organisation actually being able to manage processes on a daily basis. To succeed with process management your main objective is to select one that will encourage business process understanding, use, execution and improvement.

Business Process Management Software helps to simplify your processes

For this reason, we’re excluding a number of highly complex and sophisticated development and automation platforms from this analysis. However, this doesn’t mean that they may not be very valuable for other use cases. The excluded companies are listed at the bottom of this article.

#2 Makes the standard way of working easy to understand

It’s only if the shared, standard way of working is easier than the personal habits that it will actually get done. In practice, this means that you should look for the following features:

  1. Visual process mapping
  2. Process overview and connections
  3. Organisational roles, job descriptions and processes
  4. Reuse processes and activities across
  5. Work instructions with video, files, links and images
  6. Communicate changes to coworkers in specific roles
Man taking shortcut through a park
While the benefits of BPM may be clear to management, the average employee will still take the shortest path when it comes to doing the work. This is why usability is pivotal.

#3 Enables ongoing communications and feedback

This requirement is closely related to the previous one. Chances are that the first time you see a process and perhaps a work instruction a few questions will come to mind. These should be added at the right step in the process and the process owner should be able to answer it immediately. Ideally, this conversation should be transparent to everyone, so questions only need to be asked and answered once. So, look for these features:

    1. Let users comment on any activity and let process editors reply
    2. Create common tags or labels to flag comments for follow up
    3. Hide comments and issues that have already been resolved so they are only visible to editors
    4. Filter comments by time range and label

#4 Makes processes easier to execute the right way

Actually running and executing your processes will ensure that they happen every time. As a result, you need ways to manage recurring tasks and cases. The correct staff need to know when to execute tasks and to log their work. These are the features that will get you there:

  1. Run recurring tasks
  2. Run workflows “on demand” across the roles in a process
  3. Record the person and time when a task is done
  4. Proof that a task is done (e.g. with location and photo)
  5. Monitor if tasks are not done in time
  6. Report on tasks by time, process and case

#5 Collects input and data to improve business processes

Once your processes are mapped and have been revised so many times that they are stable, then the time will come to improve them. In order to gather sufficient data to underpin your decisions, you need to collect organised feedback from colleagues (if processes are executed manually) and system data if processes are automated. These are important features for business process management software:

  1. See the volume of coworkers that have a problem, or request a certain change.
  2. Identify tasks which are not meeting process standards in either time spent or quality.
  3. Get an overview of your worst performing processes.

#6 Integrates with other systems to automate tasks

Once processes are stable, it’s time to automate your processes fully. To achieve this your process management software either needs to complete the full flow inside the platform, or it must be able to integrate with other systems such as ERP or CRM. To do this you need the following features in the process management software solution that you select:

  1. An open, RESTful API that is accessible via a token
  2. Ideally ready integrations to integration platforms such as Zapier that let you integrate with thousands of apps
  3. An integration with Microsoft Graph if you’re using Office 365
  4. An integration with G Suite if you’re using this as your company platform

#7 Ensures solid governance around processes

You must be able to manage your process collection, or process hierarchy, from a central place while still being able to delegate the management of specific processes to the people that know. At the same time, each process owner must have access to all the tools and information that he – and his editor team – need to manage the process effectively. This requires granular rights management:

  1. Firstly, Automatic change tracking: Changes in processes, work instructions and editors.
  2. Manage Rights by Process: Assign separate owners and editors to each process.
  3. Lastly, Manage Rights by Feature: Allow separate users to manage hierarchy, roles and users.

Next step: The vendor evaluation

These were the 27 requirements that we have identified as being important for many business process management software buyers. However, we suggest you also add your own requirements to the list.

Next, it’s time to start evaluating vendors. So, it’s a good idea to read our list of top 5 business process management software for medium-sized businesses.