ECM's BPM or Pure Play BPM- That is the Question
While technically two different technologies ECM and BPM often overlap. For example, Laserfiche is an ECM solution that is coupled with its own BPM solution. Why is that? The reason is that an agency’s information management needs don’t stop at simple functions like search and retrieval or uploading and tracking document versions. At a baseline, ECM systems have content management features in addition to other features like RM, DAM, collaboration, archival, security, integration, and so on.
Sooner or later organizations realize they need more features as their content needs mature.
So it’s difficult to imagine a content engine engineered by a pure-play BPM vendor will be able to manage content on an enterprise-scale for organizations as they grow. Hence, the question remains what tool should they use for their content-driven needs. The answer: the native BPM tool found in the ECM system.
When the processes the organization wants to automate are purely content-driven, then logically you should use the BPM tool native to your ECM system. However, you may see a few organizations or agencies that are using a BPM-provided ECM repository to manage content because of their nature of adoption. For instance, they took a process (BPM) first approach and soon realized that content is also playing a significant role in the process and they stuck to that. Or perhaps they do not need ECM features for their organizations. This does not change the fact that BPM-provided ECM repositories will not be able to meet ECM needs for those that are looking for robust, matured content management solutions.
Seeing the complexities/feature-set involved in an ECM product, it would be very difficult for a BPM vendor to provide enterprise-scale ECM -- if not impossible or impractical. Another trend in the industry is vendors repacking/branding their core product suite (ECM, BPM, DAM) and selling it as a ‘Case Management Tool’. The Laserfiche tools allow partners like CPS to build case management or contract management or records management tools for our clients.
I’d like to leave you with a few final thoughts.
If you are already running an ECM platform and need a pure-play BPM tool for managing human tasks, you may not want to store your content in the repository provided by a BPM vendor, rather keep utilizing your ECM for better compliance, governance, and records management. Architecture options are available for integrating ECM and BPM platforms if this is the route you chose.
ECM vendors with a native BPM tool like Laserfiche can be used for a specific need to support content-driven needs instead of a pure BPM solution.
The BPM engine that comes with Laserfiche is definitely enterprise-class, and is tightly coupled with its content repository, and is mostly utilized for content-centric business processes. Organizations needing content-centric workflow are well served by the Laserfiche workflow engine.
If you are looking for a new ECM platform or you are planning to consolidate your disparate ECM platforms to an enterprise-level ECM, you must evaluate and look for a pure-play ECM product such as Laserfiche.