Your criteria for choosing a BPM tool?

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When you want to buy a BPM tool, what are your evaluation criteria?

I am monitoring and participating in a discussion on Linked In about the criteria people use to choose a BPM tool. There are a couple of interesting points that are surfacing.

The discussion involves a couple of vendors and a couple of consultants. This, ideally, gives both sides of the discussion : what do the vendors think is the ideal criteria and what do the consultants think is ideal based on their interaction with the customers?

Initially a vendor identifed 10 points as potential criteria:
1) Provides process execution and state management
2) Offers model-driven composition environment (product modelling studio)
3) Interacts/integrates with EDMS and CM
4) Enables collaboration
5) Integrates with other apps (SOA)
6) Enables BAM and event-based notifications
7) Provides simulation and optimizaton
8) Includes business rules engine/capabilities (e.g., roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures, approvals, deadlines, integrations, etc.)
9) Provides overall admin, security
10) Provides a registry for process components

Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with these criteria. However that same vendor indicates that the ACTUAL questions that customers ask are:

- Is it easy to use for my developers, business analysts and users?
- Does the product really work? (Does is have a good modelling environment? Can I easily create forms and ties those forms together with the workflow model to launch applications? How configurable is it?)
- How are other companies like me using the product? Have they had success?
- How fast can I get something implemented?
- Is it the right price?
- Does your company and/or partner have experience developing/deploying applications like I need?
- Is your company strong and well positioned to succeed over the long run?

Again I like these criteria. They seem closer to real-life issues and questions than a hypothetical list of criteria that a vendor would like a customer to ask.

One respondant (again a software vendor, but focused on the Open Source arena) identified the following 5 criteria from his market research:
1. license price
2. maintenance price
3. implementation costs (what fits some of the criteria you mentioned)
4. vendor locking
5. user basis

This is interesting because, of course, he is looking at a cost or price bias when dealing with his customers.

I suspect that in an ideal situation customers should be focusing on getting a tool which is both suitable for their needs, easy to use, well supported and well priced. I think they realise that - at the end of the day - a BPM package is not necessarily distinguished by its functionality and cost but more by the ability of that tool to fit the needs of the job it is being supplied for. After all if there was one 'best tool' in the BPM space it would dominate the market to such an extent that Gartner would not need to produce a Magic Quadrant every year or so. The current MQ indicates that the market is quite tightly bunched around the central point of the 4 quadrants with a few minor outliers. This indicates to me that either all companies are looking for a similar thing (and the vendors are catering for that) or the market is so widely spread in terms of user requirements that the software has developed to be general enough to deal with most of these requirements. I suspect it's a combination of both

What are your five main criteria for choosing a BPM solution?

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