How to Build a Low-Code BPM Strategy
By now, you’ve probably heard about low-code software, and you might even be talking to your team about how and when to build a low-code business process management (BPM) strategy. There’s a lot of low-code messaging out there right now, and in some cases it’s creating confusion about whether low-code complements or competes against BPM tools.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re in the right place. In this short blog post, we sort through the noise and focus on the signal to help you navigate this technology and what it means for your BPM strategy.
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What is low-code BPM?
This is something of a trick question. That’s because low-code and BPM are really two different things, though many businesses depend on both to achieve their process management goals.
Let’s start by pulling the term low-code BPM apart and looking at each component separately.
Low-code refers to any software that’s designed to minimize the amount of coding required to implement or use it. When a platform is described that way, usually what people mean is that end users (i.e. business teams) can engage its features without having to do any coding. Instead, they use a visual interface — such as a drag-and-drop menu — to develop and deploy solutions.
Here are some main points to keep in mind when thinking about it:
- Low-code software gives business users a controlled, safe development environment in which they can build solutions to their problems using a visual interface.
- Low-code software can be used to create apps or to model and automate processes and workflows.
- Low-code integrates into existing tech stacks to enhance their capabilities, not replace them.
- Low-code software requires limited coding support from the IT team, but typically none from business users.
Low-code functionality is important for a couple of reasons. Primarily because it improves alignment between business and IT teams. Here’s how that works:
- The IT team vets and implements the platform, ensuring that it meets security and compliance requirements and that it’s integrated with the other components of the existing stack.
- Once IT is satisfied that the tool is safe to use, they give the green light to the business teams who can then move forward and start using it.
Business teams now have a safe environment in which they can develop and deploy solutions (or build processes) for the problems they encounter — and they don’t need any coding experience to do it. This is important because it means that business teams stay agile and no longer have to wait for a developer to build a new solution from scratch or update the code for an existing process that needs modification. Business teams can solve many of their own problems in real-time.
Low-code platforms offer other advantages as well. For the business team, it allows them to incorporate customer feedback, competitor activity, and market changes into the development cycle. And since it accelerates development cycles, that means the most current information can be built into each new iteration.
For IT teams, low-code reduces the workload. It liberates IT teams from the backlog and moves them into the role of co-creator, alongside their business unit counterparts. IT teams have more time to focus on security and building solutions to problems for which there isn’t a low-code alternative.
That’s low-code in a nutshell. Now let’s tackle the BPM part.
Business process management
Few terms are as confusing — or carry as much baggage — as “business process management.” There are a couple of reasons for that. First, BPM has been around for a long time and has been used in different ways, by different people, and at different points in history. Second, BPM is sometimes thought of as technology or a solution, but it’s more precise to think of BPM as a method or discipline.
Put another way, BPM is a broad, complex strategy for identifying, optimizing, and monitoring processes throughout an organization. Tools that are called “BPM” help businesses achieve the goals of the BPM strategy. Here are some of the tactics that make up a BPM strategy:
- Process identification
- Process mapping
- Process modeling
- Process optimization
- Process automation
- Process orchestration
You can learn more about this topic in our complete guide to BPM.
Low-code vs. BPM: Which is right for me?
This is another trick question.
That’s because low-code and BPM aren’t in opposition, nor are they mutually exclusive. Low-code software supports BPM strategy by making it easier for business teams to organize and optimize business processes, without adding to the IT backlog.
For most businesses, the best way to build low-code functionality into a BPM strategy is through the use of business process automation (BPA) software.
How does low-code impact BPM strategy?
Low-code software impacts BPM strategy in three primary ways:
- Accelerates the rate of process optimization. By giving business teams a tool they can use to solve their own problems, low-code enables a faster, more incremental development process. Business teams won’t have to wait for IT to modify or automate processes for them, and business users can quickly update workflows in response to customer feedback or competitor activity.
- Simplifies efforts to standardize processes. Inconsistency among processes makes it difficult to enforce security requirements or achieve process orchestration. Low-code provides a simple development framework that’s adaptable to any team, department, or use case. It helps ensure that all processes are organized, digitized, and integrated into the overall process fabric.
- Reallocates IT/developer resources. Low-code reduces the IT backlog and frees the IT team from having to make every change to every process every time. As a result, it allows developers and IT personnel to redirect their time and attention to other efforts, such as security or digital innovation.
What are the benefits of low-code for BPM?
In addition to its broader impact on overall BPM strategy, low-code delivers a range of business benefits. Among them are four universal benefits that manifest regardless of industry, size, or department.
|Reduces risk||Low-code automation standardizes processes, which increases visibility and control, and makes it easier to maintain security requirements. Rules and conditionals reduce error rates and eliminate missing or incomplete information.|
|Improves user experiences||Low-code automation integrates with the components of the existing tech stack to provide an overall user experience framework. Instead of bouncing between apps, the low-code automation platform provides a single, unified interface where data management and communication between integrated systems take place behind the scenes.|
|Increases efficiency||The impact of low-code automation on process efficiency is nothing short of dramatic. Business teams that identify opportunities to automate tasks and workflows are empowered to build the automations themselves. Processes that depend on spreadsheets and email — both of which are notoriously resistant to scaling — are digitized and accelerated.|
|Automates long-tail processes||Processes and workflows that fall outside the business core are easily managed using low-code automation. Low-code’s adaptability makes it ideal for resolving unique or incidental processes and workflows.|
How do I build a BPM strategy that includes low-code?
Any BPM initiative can benefit from the addition of low-code tools. That’s because the point of low-code is to collapse the distance between those who understand the processes and those who manage them. Give those who are on the front lines the tools to build better processes; that’s the vision of low-code.
One of the most versatile tools any business can use to achieve their BPM strategy is low-code BPA (also known as low-code automation). It has best-in-class security built in and can be adapted to any process, workflow, or department. It also integrates seamlessly with existing ERPs, iPaaS, and vertical point solutions.
Low-code automation software gives any permissioned user the power to model, build, automate, and monitor their processes or workflows — a quality addition that’s compatible with fostering an agile BPM strategy.