Enough of this "Departmental BPM"

  • January 12, 2010
  • Scott
  • 8 Comments

I think nearly everyone thinks it was a mistake for IBM to position Lombardi as being “Departmental BPM” as a way to explain how it fits within their BPM offerings.  The proof that it is a mistake is the flurry of blog posts from competitors slamming Lombardi’s offering as being “only departmental” and unable to scale (and using the Savvion acquisition as further excuse to return to this argument about Lombardi as well).

Dr. Ketabchi of Savvion is quoted by Jason Stamper’s blog:

Second, we made sure our BPM is enterprise BPM — Lombardi, Metastorm and those others are departmental BPM. Our BPM is event-centric and supports event-centric patterns, decision-centric operations, case management and so on

And there were shots from Appian and Cordys.  And then this from Pega’s Alan Trefler:

Clearly, departmental-focused BPM companies stalled during the recent tough times. Is it okay to finally say that departmental BPM is not able to satisfy growing customer needs for real business change? Frankly, the best evidence comes from the acquiring company itself, which sees only tepid growth from the Savvion buy, forecasting only an additional $20M in revenue and 2 cents of profit…

I understand the positioning going on, for sure.  However, Savvion was bought for considerably less than Lombardi (final #’s will, I’m sure, be revealed in an IBM release or 10Q). And both Lombardi and Savvion were smaller than Pega in terms of revenue, but this ignores Pega’s history as a company before they rebranded themselves as BPM – they were a larger company before they started throwing BPM out there as a market they were in.

Still, I think the down-market positioning of Lombardi (and Savvion) as “Departmental” BPM isn’t really fair.  This is “marketing” positioning by IBM, and not a reflection of what Lombardi has been doing for the last 10 years – and if it is a go-to-market strategy to spread the use of BPM bottom-up, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  But if you consider major financial institutions running their entire loan process through Lombardi’s BPM “departmental” then so be it.  If you consider running all order-to-cash through Lombardi as departmental, so be it. There is a difference between marketing and technology and product.

Are there departmental solutions abounding? of course.  Are these spreading within the organization?  yes.  Lombardi’s toolset makes it possible for a department to solve problems because Lombardi’s software does not require a team of 20-50 people to get deployed – a small team with a small amount of IT cooperation can get a process up and running very quickly.  However, that isn’t to say that these processes can’t grow and scale – or that enterprise-level processes aren’t addressed – and at BP3 we’ve worked on some of the very biggest of these deployments.

I hope IBM/Lombardi will address this positioning once the acquisition is complete, I think it is hurting the BPM market to have the technology denigrated unnecessarily.  Of course, as a solution provider, we’re happy to use any software package to address our customers’ process problems, including Pega’s (or Savvion/Progress, or Appian, etc.).  But as a firm that isn’t a software vendor, we’d like to see the competition accurately represented and portrayed.  Not all technology is equal, but this department vs. enterprise stuff is really just marketing fluff, with no basis in fact.

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