A workflow by any other name

In an interesting article http://kswenson.wordpress.com/2006/05/06/workflow-is-back/ K Swenson write about the changing of the word workflow into BPM over time and how the term workflow has gone out of favour.  In fact if you look at Google trends the searches for the words workflow has gone down a few percent over the last few years.  (Although the news items containing workflow seem to have doubled).  Is this the end for workflow as a technology?  As a name?  Well neither.

Workflow as a Technology

 I read via Gartner that workflow is still expected to increase in the 5-10% range over the next few years.  Although referred to workflow systems as Business Process Management Suites by Gartner.  Also an increasing number of companies have recognized that they need to invest in workflow systems. 

Workflow as a Name 

People are starting to use many other terms in place of workflow: such as Business Process Management, Enterprise Application Integration, Service Orchestration Architecture.  That is the way of people that work with computers.  We love a good acronym.  The marketing people also love a good acronym.  It can make their products sound better.  Instead of a workflow systems why not have a Business Process Management Application Integration Service Oriented Uber-Mega Platform.  Well there is one group that is less swayed by all the fancy talk.  The people who buy workflow systems.  Most after initial investigation realize that all these other systems are workflow but just using another name and from my experience they just want it to be called workflow. 


3 thoughts on “A workflow by any other name

  1. I so much agree to you: the name should not matter. With between 150 and 250 vendors offering products in this or very related space, it is impossible for a typical customer to try or investigate them all. My experience is that among these vendors, there is a great deal of variation as to approach and features. This variation is not arbitrary, but in fact necessary for fitting all the different ways that different organizations work. The different words are an attempt to subdivide and classify different groups of these technologies — but in fact sales and marketing pressure forces every vendor to claim to do everything, and makes the differences in the terms almost meaningless.

    I always recommend people ignore the name as much as possible, ignore the list of capabilities that are described by one or two words. Instead try to understand the kinds of applications which have been successful with a system, and why they have been successful. But this is hard work!

  2. Keith interesting points.

    Bill Paetzke If you are going to talk about your products please relate them in some way to the article.

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