iBPMS vs. Low-Code Automation:
What’s Better for the Enterprise?
iBPMS vs. Low-Code Automation:
What’s Better for the Enterprise? by Taylor Bornstein
Keeping attuned to business process management (BPM) is a central strategy to a successful 21st-century enterprise. Technology leaders have to stay vigilant. There’s a constant flow of rapid advancements, creating new ways to discover, measure, and optimize workflows and further intelligent automation initiatives.
Intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS) are BPM software that’s moved beyond automating repeatable operations and documenting the minutiae of business workflows. Incorporating modern technology trends such as cloud computing and AI, iBPMS platforms are now addressing process app composition and improvement, case management, and digital transformation initiatives. But the question becomes: Which solution does my enterprise need? The iBPMS market is flooded with so-called low-code development solutions, but to what extent do these tools incorporate citizen development? Do iBPMS tools scale easily, or provide solutions to legacy tech, dev shortage, or shadow IT issues?
Solving end-to-end business process management problems, engendering business-IT collaboration, and curating a solution from modern tech opportunities may be beyond the scope of an iBPMS. Today’s enterprise can’t create autonomous customer-facing applications with iBPMS solutions nor is process management accessible, with a consistent UI, across any device type. Read on to learn why low-code application development (LCAP) platforms may be the better solution for your BPM dilemmas.
What does business process management mean?
Today’s business process management philosophy often means harvesting digital transformation outputs and putting them to their most profitable uses. New technologies in robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning change how we think about automation, workflow, and process. By incorporating analytics, advanced decision management tools, and contextual and behavioral information, iBPMS aim to provide insight into an enterprise’s DigitalOps portfolio to improve processes throughout an enterprise.
The LCAP advantage over iBPMS
Intelligent business process management suites have multiple use-case overlaps with low-code application platform solutions, such as Mendix. For instance, both incorporate workflow automation technology, automating operational processes.
But what if you don’t want to just automate a process at the most basic level? What if you want to enable employees and customers to interact with a process across a variety of channels and technologies? What if you want to model a business process to build a customer-facing application that drives revenue? What if you need to be able to easily deploy a solution to the cloud of your choice, and adjust that deployment as business needs require? The question is simple: do you want to solve a software problem with a process improvement solution, or with a software solution?
One of the major problems with the business process solution market is figuring out the scope of automation against each tool’s overlapping functionality—it’s hard to know which tool is right for your use case, in your ecosystem. Some tools can’t handle case management, especially when processes can’t be defined upfront. Other tools have limited low-code development capabilities, missing functionality like version control. In other words, the further you get from the process, the more you may need the data structure of a software solution or an independent application.
Enterprise low-code platforms like Mendix speed up time-to-market and deploy cloud native solutions that can integrate across a broad set of data sources and core systems, and scale as needed. Yes, iBPMS may excel at mapping complex large-scale workflow processes across an enterprise. Still, modern demands around data, platform independence, and multi-channel configurations have reduced the use cases where iBPMS is the best solution.
With solutions developed on an LCAP, the end-user interacts with an application, not the platform. Conversely, with an iBPMS the end-users interaction is with the platform itself. This is an important distinction for several populations, not just the end-users, but also the developers iteratively improving the app, the QA personnel responsible for testing, and the operational team concerned about security and deployment.
An iBPMS may allow the business to delve into process steps and automate custom solutions, but an LCAP such as Mendix allows IT to create custom logic within autonomous applications through microflows. There are several reasons why modular, containerized applications make better intelligent automation tools than process management solutions. For example, end-to-end process management and two-step approval processes are simpler to model and adjust when developed on an LCAP.
User Interface and User Experience
Peel back the layers, and we see complex process automation—not user experience—at the core of the modern iBPMS solution. These platforms have a legacy of prioritizing integrations over end users and, as a result, are limited in how they can evolve to encompass the end-user experience—iBPMS solutions hit a wall because UX is an afterthought.
In contrast, low-code development platforms such as Mendix are required to put user experience at the center of their solution, from the beginning. In fact, it would be difficult for a LCAP to succeed with a UI that business users and customers found confusing or unapproachable from a technical skill vantage point, which is not the case for iBPMS solutions. For many enterprises, the appeal of low-code solutioning is that lower barrier of entry—through powerful but easy-to-use user interface, low-code application platforms horizontally expand the enterprise developer pool.
Take Mendix’s AltasUI—an easy-to-use UI framework developed to be simple, harmonious, and flexible. AtlasUI ensures one experience across web, mobile, wearables, conversational UIs, and other modern modalities and touchpoints. These experiences meet the consumer-grade requirements that today’s end users have, and ensure—as processes are automated—that employee and customer engagement remain high.
What type of solution do you need?
iBPMS solve high complexity process challenges—50-user chains and processes that touch multiple systems, applications, platforms, and humans. Executing and monitoring repeatable, form-driven processes that automate workflows—this is where iBPMS excel. They incorporate technologies to help enterprises identify and orchestrate these process workflows, but they can’t deploy autonomous software. Limited UI capabilities mean customer-facing use cases are limited too, and iBPMS solutions aren’t much help when you need a tool that isn’t limited to a non-process-centric problem.
In contrast, LCAP development platforms offer a significantly broader range of application possibilities, cloud deployment options, and—because the focus is on low-code application development—the development interface is much more conducive to business-IT collaboration. Mendix is a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms in part because of its commitment to citizen development.
Since Mendix’s application platform was built for developers of all abilities—with low-code and no-code IDEs, data hub for data integration, easy and flexible deployment options—it has a rich and intuitive development experience. With an LCAP like Mendix, enterprises can create flexible apps with more use cases, including white hat marketplace apps that generate revenue.
At the end of the day, it’s a question of what you need to accomplish, and you can accomplish a much richer spectrum of solutions with Mendix’s low-code application platform.