Master Business Process Automation with Mendix

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Master Business Process Automation with Mendix

Master Business Process Automation with Mendix by Abel Verweg

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In a 2020 Gartner CEO study, the analyst firm asked respondents to list out concerns about managing the future workforce. The number one challenge? Outdated work processes. To fix these means updating the clunky business processes, digitizing the paper-based workflows, or automating the manual. This used to mean a lot of development work, requiring complex programming and systems integrations.

There’s pent-up development demand to update and create these processes. Navigating the market for business process management (BPM) solutions can get tricky and costly. With so many acronyms—BPMs, intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS), and robotic process automation (RPA)–and promises of intelligent workflow solutions, it’s hard to choose the right platform. Ostensibly, these types of vendors would be the right solution to the business-process problem. But these systems prove clunky, expensive, and are limiting in nature. Oftentimes, businesses have more than one use case they are solving for.

Low-code platforms, through their visual development and user-centric nature, reduce the complexity that goes into creating a business process. They also allow you to solve more than just business processes.

The Venn diagram of low-code platform and business process software alphabet soup isn’t quite a perfect circle, but the overlap is so much so that Gartner has included “Enterprise IT business process application” in their 2020 Gartner Critical Capabilities For Enterprise Low-code Application Platforms report as one of the core capabilities to consider when evaluating a low-code platform.

Building Business Processes with Low-code

Business processes are the lifeblood of an organization. From procurement, ticketing, sign-offs, asset management, there are hundreds of processes that run across different departments that utilize disparate technologies to run these processes.

Forrester estimates a staggering 70% of organizations still rely on paper-based activities for critical business processes, as reported in their Q1 Digital Process Automation Survey. Just as with paper, version control and data loss are a problem with “digital” processes that run through Excel, Access, Email, and SharePoint. In most cases, these are rarely faster. In some cases, they can even be slower. Another issue these present is, oftentimes, the process is very opaque, giving workers little to no visibility into the process.

Even with popular technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), business processes aren’t as efficient as they seem.

Inefficient processes can be time-consuming. They can be error-prone, which consequently eats up more time off users’ clocks. They can be resource-depleting. In fact, IDC suggests that companies lose 20-30% in revenue every year because of inefficiencies.

Whether you’re wholly digitizing a process or updating an inefficient one, building out a better business process can turn those inefficiencies into differentiators or even revenue-makers. The issue is, when it’s solely the IT team’s responsibility to build out or update those processes, the goals of the process can get lost. This is because business processes are, naturally, business-driven. They don’t follow your IT landscape. Truly successful enterprise business process applications require collaboration between IT and business owners.

When evaluating a low-code platform for business process management (or evaluating iBPMSes), you want to ensure that the platform provides a central language that both IT, the business process owner, and the user can understand.

Mendix and Business Process Automation

The “Enterprise IT Business Process Application” use case determines low-code providers’ abilities to automate complex business processes, workflows, and case management. To do this, the platform would need to use sophisticated business logic and external services as well as cater to multiple end-user roles.

In this use case, Mendix received the third-highest score in Gartner’s report, tallying a 3.98 out of 5. Third highest is a great placement, but it’s not first place. However, when you remove the first- and second-place vendors (both who are pure iBPMS vendors), the first pure enterprise-grade low-code development platform that’s the top choice for this use case is Mendix.

Mendix differs from pure iBPMS vendors because of the accessibility it allows for those building out the business processes. It’s the core of our platform. User tasks are pages, machine tasks are microflows. Users can change data models and the logic of their apps. Using the Mendix low-code platform, you can extend beyond iBPMS capabilities and integrate easily into third-party systems if need be. With iBPMS, you create applications in which you let your process run. With Mendix, however, you have an output of separate apps in which the processes run. This gives you more flexibility and operability between them but, more importantly, the possibility to add UIs (or experiences) and the logic on top of it.

Mendix provides out-of-box functionality when it comes to supporting visual process models. This is key because it allows citizen developers (those on the side of the business who have the tacit knowledge of the business process) to create a workflow application that best fits the needs of the user.

Building better processes means incorporating that aforementioned knowledge into the development cycle. Mendix makes developing accessible for citizen developers while making it easy for developers. This is because the designing of visual business logic and decision models is supported by Mendix’s two dedicated editors, Studio and Studio Pro. Offered within both environments is a Workflow editor. This allows both IT and the business to own and collaborate on the business process development, with the business defining the parts of the process in Studio, and IT enhancing the application in Studio Pro.

The Workflow editor is based on BPMN 2.0, the latest version of the Business Process Model and Notation standardization. You’re using a notation that is known in the organization and work done in this notation can be used.

Coming (Almost) Full Circle

The ability to define and build a business process within an application through collaboration between business and IT and deployed as a separate, scalable application is truly what sets Mendix apart from not only the other low-code vendors in this space but also the pure iBPMS vendors.

The Venn diagram isn’t quite a perfect circle, but with Mendix, it’s pretty close. And where those two circles meet is filled with benefits like speed, quality, and improved efficiency. Check out Gartner’s report and see for yourself.

Author Info

Abel Verweg