Can business users make their own Workflow/BPM Applications

This is in reference to the following article:

http://kswenson.wordpress.com/2006/07/09/what-bpm-can-learn-from-a-spreadsheet/ 

 

Can business users make their own workflow applications, well yes they can. My girlfriend’s father who is an accountant with zero programming training created a simple 3 or 4 step BPM application using Kontinuum. I think the key word here is simple. Programmers are more likely to see the problems a little bit differently and their concerns of maintainability, reuse etc would not be at the forefront of the mind of a business user. This would mean that as workflow systems tend towards greater complexity the non-programmer would create a less and less cost effective solution.

As for the first question of Business office workers will never program software well they are already doing so. Not only in excel type applications but also in creating BPM applications.

Another counter argument is that the application is purpose built. Well every language was built with a purpose. Take C and Prolog. Built for different purposes. Are neither of them programming languages? If you submit that they are because ultimately they could achieve all the functionality of the other albeit in an often convoluted way well then couldn’t a BPM system deliver such functionality albeit in a more convoluted way?

As a final though some people have said that 3gl is not programming. OK why? Because it is to easy? Because you don’t have to type? The important part of programming is logic. If you can deliver to a computer that same logic through dragging and dropping something as opposed to typing it out what should it matter. If not then isn’t 2gl not programming either? Should we real programmers go back to binary?

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4 thoughts on “Can business users make their own Workflow/BPM Applications

  1. Can they? Yes. Should they? Tougher question! They can clearly be given control over the decisions and steps in a process but should they be expected to manage the process creation completely? Probably not. Just as in business rules, business users don’t want to maintain processes they want to run their business. You need to make managing the process seem like managing the business and this means someone needs to set things up right. check out http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/decision_management/2006/07/top_10_reasons_for_not_automat_9.php and http://www.edmblog.com/weblog/2006/08/the_secret_of_b.html

  2. As for should they? It really does depend on who the THEY is. Check out the Links in James Taylors comments as they make for interesting reads. Also note that the first link is actually a series of 10 so you might want to check out the nine previous posts.

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