Forrester Research recently published a report titled Smart Process Applications Fill A Big Business Gap. The title is certainly apt, since smart process apps as Forrester defines them are essentially specific business process workflows modeled in an enterprise request management (ERM) framework.
The analysts define smart process apps (SPAs) as “a new category of business application software designed to support processes that are people-intensive, highly variable, loosely structured, and subject to frequent change. Smart process apps fill the gap between systems of record and systems of engagement by automating both structured and unstructured work activities in support of collaborative processes.”
Breaking that down, an SPA is essentially software “plumbing” that enables functional department managers (in IT, HR, facilities, accounting, operations or other areas) to define business process flows, then manages those flows to accomplish a specific task (which can be as simple as changing a user’s security access settings or as complex as onboarding a new employee).
Because such processes are “subject to frequent change,” the SPA must make it easy to modify existing workflows as well as create new ones. Because the processes are collaborative, the SPA must be able to communicate with and between people through “systems of engagement” (online forms, intranet applications, or request management software like Kinetic Request) and “systems of record” (federated enterprise systems such as ERP software, financial and reporting applications, HR suites, email systems, etc.).
The Forrester report further states that “SPAs increasingly incorporate BPM (business process management)…mobile development frameworks…(and) business rules package integration”—all of which sounds much like the Kinetic Task workflow automation software engine—as well as “complex event management” (a function of the Kinetic Calendar online calendar tool).
Among the characteristics of such software, the report authors include, “SPAs make processes easier for employees to comprehend and interact with.” Within the context of ERM, the software should enable employees to not only easily request a business service but also to monitor the status of that request (much like online package tracking offered by major shippers); it should also make it easy for managers to create, review and adjust the processes required to fulfill the service request. In addition, SPAs will incorporate “advanced analytics (that) deliver just-in-time insight within context.” In an ERM strategy, the underlying system collects and reports on metrics regarding process and sub-task completion times and costs to support continual improvement.
Finally, the Forrester report predicts that “The next generation of packaged process applications will encapsulate…process models in these collaborative business processes yet make it possible for business people to modify the app to reflect continuous improvement in how collaboration, engagement, and interaction can occur.” The “next generation” of applications may or may not do these things—but Kinetic Task does much of this today.
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