6 Tips for Choosing the Perfect BPM Software

Choosing the right business process management (BPM) software can be challenging for several reasons. First, BPM is a complex market and products vary greatly in features and capabilities. Second, determining what your business needs isn’t always straightforward. Using these six tips, you’ll be able to determine exactly what your business needs and accurately measure up software to meet those needs. At the end of the post, you can download a free template to help you track your software analysis.

1. Be certain you need a BPM software (or a new one)

Make sure what you need is a new software (and not new management) before you jump into the commitment it takes to find the right business process management system.

Clear signs that you need BPM software are:

  1. Duplicate data is everywhere and you may be adding to the problem by inputting the data is several systems
  2. Approvals take a lifetime
  3. Pushing paper, PDFs, and excel sheets are the only way to get the job done
  4. Legacy interfaces are difficult to use and can’t adapt to your company’s growing needs

Even if your company is only experiencing one or two of these troubles, it still may be beneficial to invest in a BPM software.

Signs you need a BPM software are a little clearer than determining you need a new one–and usually because no one wants to admit their first pick wasn’t any good. For example, focusing on the new software over business objectives could be a sign of a slow adaption, but not necessarily a sign that the software won’t meet your company’s needs. However, if you find that you, or your colleagues, are fixating on creating perfect processes, then this could mean the software is too rigid and inflexible to be truly helpful. A clear indicator that you need to make a switch is that more and more added features become necessary to reach your original process goals. This a classic scope creep and is setting you up to fail.

2. Decide ahead of time which types of features you need

After you’ve pinpointed the reasons you need a BPM software, it’s easier to determine which features are a must.

Here are a few questions to help you decide on features:

  1. Is flexibility more important than standardization and rigid requirements? This will help you determine the level of agile customization you need.
  2. Are you drowning in unorganized or unutilized data? Analytical reports and a secure and customizable database are a must. Easy to generate and read would be a bonus.
  3. Do you have multiple outdated (but still necessary) software systems? Choose a software with a more navigable interface and can bring all or several legacy systems together smoothly.
  4. What types of processes are you looking to improve and in which departments? Dig deep into the needs of the people who will potentially use this software everyday.

Remember you’re looking to solve a problem, not buy a feature. If your problem can be solved without a feature you thought was essential, then don’t make that feature a deciding factor.

3. Present a high value proposition to leadership

Ultimately to get leadership on board (which is necessary for getting a budget), you need to focus on results. Although BPM might facilitate a lot of tasks for people in your department, executives and management aren’t wired to weigh task facilitation heavily.

Most executives are wired to think in terms of revenue and most managers to think in terms of performance. That’s how they ensure that each working part of the business is fulfilling it’s purpose. Make sure to present potential gains of implementing a new software in their terms, not yours. Hear directly from leadership in top BPM software companies on how to get executives on board.

Once you have a budget, this can instantly narrow down your list of choices; however, prices are negotiable especially if you plan on giving user access to 50+ people in your company.

4. Set a max deploy time, max adoption time, and minimum support standards

When you dive into the BPM market, you’ll find that most software companies will argue they have a fast deployment and require little to no code. That’s when having a timeframe that estimates process design, deploy, and adoption gives you an advantage.

According to Aditya Sengupta, the Head of the Transformation Team at Wipro, a typical process design time is about four months, but he’s found industry outliers that can deploy in a few weeks or less.

The BPM software’s customer support reputation should also be considered in the decision process. Not all BPM software was built for business users, and not all is suitable for IT. Know who will frequently use the new software, and make sure they will have the support they need.

If the software is known for having a high drop off or churn over rate, this is a sign it was good on paper but not easy to use. Read deep into case studies and reviews to prevent being oversold.

5. Measure success in numbers, not in feelings or hunches

Success should be defined in predominantly quantitative terms before the product is fully implemented. Qualitative terms open-up too much room open for debate and could leave you with a product that is draining more funds than boosting revenue. Set numerical goals with a given margin of error, and account for adoption time delaying performance.

A good measurement to consider is total process time. Measure how long each process takes to complete before implementing a new software. Define the start and end of the process with the employees who will see it out, and make sure they know this is a test of how long it normally takes–not how fast they can complete it. Compare the total process time of before implementation with the time after full adoption.

6. Be an active participant in demos by preparing questions

Scheduling demos and participating with prepared questions is the most important step in choosing the right BPM software. It’s during the demo that you can figure out what the product is capable of accomplishing and get a feel if it’s the right choice for your business.

Questions to ask the demonstrator or sales rep:

  1. How can your product help me solve my problem? Describe in a few words what you major problem or problems are and let the demonstrator show you how their product can or can’t fulfill your needs.
  2. Do you have any specific features that would help solve this problem? This question will help you dig into the full capabilities of the product.
  3. Do you see your product as the best solution for my problem? Most will respond yes, but you can get an idea of to what extent based on their response.
  4. Do you have any clients in my industry or cases similar to mine? In the best case scenario, you’ll be one of many clients in that industry or trying to solve a similar problem.

Getting a list of more specific questions prepared can also be a good approach; however, trust that the presenter will be able to show you what you need to see based on their understanding of your problem.


Choosing the perfect BPM software is a commitment that takes a lot of planning and forethought.  However, by implementing these six tips, be more prepared for the commitment ahead and feel confident in your final choice. Download a free template to help you better track your comparative analysis of BPM software.

Jenny Chang

By Jenny Chang

Jenny Chang is a senior writer specializing in SaaS and B2B software solutions. Her decision to focus on these two industries was spurred by their explosive growth in the last decade, much of it she attributes to the emergence of disruptive technologies and the quick adoption by businesses that were quick to recognize their values to their organizations. She has covered all the major developments in SaaS and B2B software solutions, from the introduction of massive ERPs to small business platforms to help startups on their way to success.

Johnny McCarron says:

Ah, man. I like how you mentioned that a clear sign you need BPM software is that duplicate data is everywhere. That sounds like my brother-in-law's business at the moment. I think he's going to start looking at getting a BPM for his company.

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