Earlier this week we kicked off our new blog series with an overview about getting started with your BPM initiative. Now it’s time to dive in with some important questions you need to ask your selection of BPM vendors that are under consideration.

Question #1: “How long will it take to implement my solution?”

There are literally dozens of technology vendors selling BPM products, platforms, and/or solutions, and in many cases, several that could potentially deliver the end solution that’s perfectly suited to your organization. So all things being equal, one crucial question to ask prospective vendors is how much time it will take to go from contract-signing to launch. Obviously, the more quickly the solution can be rolled out, the lower the total cost of implementation and the faster you can begin seeing some ROI. Of course, you should be wary of any estimates coming back that sound too quick, but generally speaking, you’ll want to favor those vendors that say they can deliver results faster.

Given the same set of functional requirements, different vendors will frequently provide different estimates on delivery time. Each vendor will have their own implementation methodology and delivery process, which can impact estimates. But, they also know their own products inside and out, and presumably have a history of working on similar implementations. So, barring any exceptional constraints around resource availability or budget, their estimates typically reflect the relative level of effort required to configure or build within their specific product suite.

Products that feature low-code configuration capabilities in lieu of custom code also speed up delivery times. They expand the pool of potential process builders, and minimize training time needed to get up to speed. That way, you can have more people (vendor consultants and/or internal resources) working proficiently within the platform more quickly than you could with other products.

Savvy vendors will also likely propose an iterative implementation approach, where possible, in order to generate some quick wins. They’ll look to identify obvious pain points that can be addressed immediately, as those incremental process improvements can serve as a proof of concept for the overall BPM program. So rather than trying to tackle the full desired end-state for all affected business processes across the organization at once, these vendors will look to isolate those areas that present the greatest opportunity for noticeable performance improvements in the short-term, and launch those first. From there, with credibility and momentum stemming from initial success, you’ll be in a good position to move on to other processes in subsequent project phases.

It may take some creativity to get a fair apples-to-apples comparison, but in the long run, your business will benefit by selecting a BPM product vendor who can deliver quickly – preferably in terms of weeks or months, instead of years.

Next week: Question #2: “Does the BPM Product/Platform have the critical capabilities that I need?”