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Business Process Management with Low Code Improvement

Organizations use a variety of software tools to run their operations properly. For larger enterprise systems like CRM and ERP, it is likely that the software was deployed after long and expensive projects that involved large project teams, lots of work by IT, and many hours of custom software development.

By Edwin Jongsma

Expectations around enterprise business applications have evolved in recent years as the concept of low code development has emerged. Promising a faster and more direct alternative to traditional IT projects and broad enterprise systems, low code development is a visual approach to creating software that requires, you guessed it, little to no code but still results in useful tools for workers. What that really means is that business users can build their own solutions to meet many needs.

According to a recent report, Gartner predicted that the low code market would grow by 23% and could make up 65% of the app development market space by 2024. With numbers like that, low code technologies like Microsoft Power Platform are likely to play a role in more enterprise software projects.

As low code projects proliferate and take on more complex challenges, organizations need to ensure they do not lose control of their applications and processes. When processes cross a certain complexity threshold, the need for business process modeling and governance becomes critical to the deployment of new applications.

Low code & ERP

Over the years, we have learned from the world of ERP that aligning with the business users at the process management level is critical to overall success. Business processes managed by ERP are complicated, and the wrong process design decisions can cause project cost overruns that only become visible when it is too late. Business process management (BPM) is all about transparent alignment with all project participants in the design phase. For deployment teams, the key is to communicate with customers about business processes in a language they understand in order to manage scope, mitigate risks, contain cost, and increase user adoption and customer satisfaction.

Today, low code projects often arise adjacent to existing ERP systems. Complex low-code applications can be found in domains like compliance & regulations, retail store operations, and field service management. For example, a trade promotion management app could offer discounts to retail stores. Being able to build these solutions in-house ultimately saves companies from spending extra on point solutions.

Business process management and low code development

There is plenty of low-hanging fruit for low code app development. Even complex applications can start simple and then be upgraded to something more robust and scalable when the need arises. For business cases that require a solution other than low code, letting business users model applications at the business process level allows them to work together with the business architects from IT and produce rich applications faster and cheaper.

The concept of collaborative prototyping in a low code development platform like Microsoft Power Platform offers a new way to enhance BPM frameworks. Power Platform can support BPM ideals like standardizing interaction between the business and IT and describing the coordinated behavior of systems, people, and information to achieve the desired business outcome.

Business processes are not only the main component in starting to define a solution for implementation, they are also the functional language that aligns different parts of a business.

In order to describe future solutions, current processes in the organizations must be understood by all stakeholders, which can be done using a methodology known as process mining. Whether done manually or with an automated tool, process mining results in the development of an accurate operational model that reflects the reality of worker activity, applications, processes, and data. Process mining also creates a visual road map of an organization’s “as is” state and their “to be” vision. With these elements in view, you can start with a standardized approach and enhance it with elements like industry models as you build and redefine your roadmap.

BPM becomes more than visual models in combination with a low code platform like Power Platform. While traditionally BPM has emphasized operational efficiency through standardization, with the advent of low code platforms, it can also be used to govern the rapid pace of digital transformation. What’s more, BPM can support low-code app development itself, including the automation of DevOps (work items and instructions), optimization of testing, and support of user adoption.

The future of BPM and beyond

Low code, in combination with BPM, allows for faster and interactive digital transformation. By using BPM for governance, companies can reduce risk and avoid cost overruns and miscommunication as they invest in low code. Companies that have deployed BPM broadly are building a digital twin of an organization (DTO). A DTO, or virtual copy of your organization, not only helps you to identify the causes of problems and the fixes, but it also shows you how to improve the organization on an ongoing basis. DTO is a superset of BPM for your entire organization while helping to prioritize which application development needs.

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