The category of business process management (BPM) software covers a lot of ground: As you choose tools, beware of the jargon, and focus on the business problem you’re trying to solve.
Analysis and modeling tools help enterprises map out their existing processes and optimize them. Modeling and management tools, often used in concert with a business rules engine, help enterprises test and deploy software that implements processes—either within a BPM application that manages an entire process (such as document management) or as an automation tool that interacts with other applications and data sources to run a set of processes (like a very sophisticated scripting tool).
The major BPM vendors—Appian, BEA Systems, Cordys, EMC (ProActivity), Global360, HandySoft, IBM, IDS Scheer, Lombardi Software, Metastorm, Pegasystems, Savvion, Tibco Software and Ultimus—offer suites that include modelers, asset managers, business rules engines, and process management and deployment tools. Vendor like Casewise offer dedicated modeling tools.
Several vendors, such as Siemens Medical Solutions, provide BPM-based management tools for niches like health care.
Enterprise application integration (EAI) tools and enterprise service bus (ESB) tools, such as those from BEA, Tibco and WebMethods, increasingly deliver some BPM functionality. Another class of related tools focuses more narrowly on automating document and workflow processes. Major vendors in this class include Adobe Systems, EMC (Documentum), IBM (FileNet) and Interwoven.