The History of BPM Software

The History of BPM Software

Business Process Management Software (BPMS) is a technology solution which enables businesses to design, analyze, execute, monitor and optimize important processes. It also acts as a valuable automation tool for enterprises to generate a competitive advantage through cost reduction, process excellence, and continuous process improvement.

BPMS helps businesses map out their everyday processes and workflows to identify and eliminate bottlenecks, control costs, make day-to-day processes as efficient as possible, and ensure the effectiveness of the people involved in those processes. However, when people think of BPMS, they rarely think about the “S” and focus more on BPM.

The term business process management covers how we study, identify, change, and monitor business processes to ensure they run smoothly and can be improved over time. With BPM, a company takes a step back and looks at all of these processes in total and individually. BPM (as a practice or methodology) analyzes the current state and identifies bottlenecks and areas of improvement to create a more efficient and effective organization.

It doesn’t take long until BPMS itself becomes confusing thought, partly because BPM is confusing. The Workflow Management Coalition [WfMC] has been working to standardize terminology for process oriented thinking for 20 years, and says:

“BPM is a discipline involving any combination of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement and optimization of business activity flows, in support of enterprise goals, spanning systems, employees, customers and partners within and beyond the enterprise boundaries.”

According to Jason Bloomberg, leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology, analyst firms have been following the BPMS space for years, and all indications are that they will continue to do so. However, a number of related but different market segments have popped up as well, including intelligent BPMS (iBPMS), mobile BPMS, RPA itself, and much of the low-code market as well.

History of BPMS

Traditionally, BPMS has focused on delivering value by reducing costs and increasing efficiency.  In its most humble beginnings, FileNet developed a digital workflow management system in the 1980’s designed to route scanned documents through a predefined process. This early system — later acquired by IBM — is often cited as the precursor to modern BPM Software, according to Frank J. Wyatt, Business Process Management and Workflow Automation and Project Management Tools writer.

In the 2000s, Analyst firm Gartner coined the term “Business Process Management Suite” (BPMS) to refer to a vast array of software applications that deal with processes – whether carried out by machines or people. Later on, BPM software advanced to handle a wide range of functionality from process modeling and management, to reporting and analytics. Finally, in 2012 Gartner coined the term intelligent Business Process Management (iBPM) to refer to BPM Suites that include support for analytics and complex event processing.

David McCoy, who helped start Gartner’s BPM research, said at Gartner, they talk of BPM as a management discipline, BPMT (T for technology) as the software component of that market, and BPMS (Business Process Management Suite) as the leading example of BPMT.

The Evolution

Legacy BPM solutions required significant IT and developer support to map each task within a process. Software was then designed and built from the ground up, but like any technology, BPM tools used to define and apply successful business processes have evolved over the years.

In recent years, the focus of BPMS has shifted to the customer. How can we change our business processes, enable better collaboration, and support innovation to create a better customer experience? Today, the customer experience has become the top business priority for most organizations, and BPMS is no exception.

In this ‘age of the customer’, businesses are recognizing BPM tools as the technology that can drive automation, collaboration and engagement with customers. As a result, BPMS is now seeing resurgence in businesses, as more and more leverage the technology to accelerate digital business transformation with a keen focus on a customer-centric approach.

Once implemented, it used to take a long time to troubleshoot and work out the bugs, and maintenance was constant. This was an extremely complex and costly process that required continuous collaboration between business executives and IT, draining resources on both sides.

Today’s BPM solutions require little if any IT involvement to create, implement and optimize business processes. These tools are capable of converting mountains of data into meaningful, understandable insights that the business folks can use to streamline processes, add business value, increase operational efficiency, improve the customer experience and deliver better outcomes.


Looking for more? Download our Business Process Management Buyer’s Guide for free to compare the top-24 products available on the market with full page vendor profiles. The guide includes four key capabilities to look for in a BPM platform, plus questions to ask before purchasing. It’s truly the perfect resource for anyone looking to find the right BPM for their business/organization, or those looking to replace an existing one.

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Elizabeth Quirk

Liz is a leading enterprise technology writer covering Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Business Process Management (BPM) and Talent Management Suites (TMS) at Solutions Review. She writes to bridge the gap between consumer and technical expert to help readers understand what they're looking for. Liz attended Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Communications. You can reach her at equirk@solutionsreview.com
Elizabeth Quirk