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Types of BPM and Workflow Engine Tools

Posted by Dileepa WIjayanayake on Sep 15, 2014 8:37:28 AM



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There are many vendors that provide BPM / Workflow Engine tools.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses or pros and cons. Every organization has processes, some are small, some are large, some are efficient, some less so, some are user interactive, and some are non-user interactive. This article is going to break down the tool market by type. First, here are the types of tools out there for BPM / Workflow.

  • Enterprise BPM / Workflow - Handles every aspect of BPM / Workflow across your organization; it includes integrated document management, forms, and security.
  • Cloud BPM / Workflow - Vendor product resides and functions within a cloud environment. It performs all aspects of process design and execution. Data for processes may live on the cloud or within your environment.
  • Standard BPM / Workflow - Vendor product resides within the organization and manages design and execution of workflow processes.
  • Embeddable BPM / Workflow Engine - Embeddable workflow engine is similar to Enterprise BPM / Workflow, but can be embedded into your system to manage all processes.
  • Developer tools BPM / Workflow - These tools let developers embed processes into their code fragments.
  • Open Source BPM / Workflow - BPM / Workflow tools that are fully open and include all source code for the product.

Now here are our views regarding application of the BPM / Workflow products out on the market. Would love to hear your comments…

Enterprise BPM / Workflow

Enterprise BPM / Workflow is best for very large organizations, where company offices and processes are spread across countries and even continents. These products are able to handle a large scale volume of process automation within an organization, but also require a team of domain experts, IT folks and developers to manage the BPM / Workflow infrastructure. You can imagine the cost to manage of all this, both human and infrastructure-wise. Still, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it if it saves the organization time and money.

Cloud BPM / Workflow

With the coming of cloud computing, many vendors are providing cloud-based BPM / Workflow. Some of these products are web-based and graphical, and some are APIs only. Given the SaaS model on the cloud, software is able to handle and process many organization’s processes within one environment. The cloud environment minimizes infrastructure and maintenance costs. Some vendors even offer pay as you use plans, allowing you to scale costs with your business growth. The question of the day is do you really want your company’s data in the cloud? How secure is the cloud environment?

Standard BPM / Workflow

Microsoft and Java technology brought some of the first BPM / Workflow products to market. Some are great, but many are dinosaurs. Some of these products have outlived their usefulness or are out-performed by the next generation BPM / Workflow products. However, these corporate giants still play a large role in the market.

Developer Tools BPM / Workflow

Just like the name says, it’s for developers. With most traditional BPM / Workflow tools, once IT folks install the software, business process analysts and domain experts are able to map and execute processes in the tool. Here, any changes to the process can be made by the analysts and domain experts. In developer tool based products, changes to the processes are maintained by developers.

Open Source BPM / Workflow

There are many open source BPM / Workflow tools out there, especially in the Java world. If it’s open source, then it’s usually free and all of the source code is available. These products are great for home use, for learning, or to automate something like your town soccer league’s registration process. But for a large organization, open-source can be risky. Most of the open-source products don’t come with customer support. So if there’s an issue or bug, who do you contact? Also, get ready to read through 1000’s of lines of code to figure out what’s happening.

Embeddable BPM / Workflow Engine

While there are few on the market so far, embeddable BPM / Workflow engine products have the best of all worlds. They can perform at the Enterprise level. They can be embedded. You can make them part of your technology solution. Embeddable BPM / Workflow engine products can run standalone, can run in a cloud environment, or can run at the enterprise intranet level. Embeddable BPM / Workflow engine is also the lowest cost solution out there compared to the rest!

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