As I’m daily working with partners, customers and prospects around BPM and workflow, it seems for most of the people not to be clear what the difference is. Most people think BPM and Workflow are the same and therefore they are comparing apples with peers and lemons. Workflow has to be seen as a sub-set within a BPM, in other words a BPM Process is build of several workflows and is putting the whole management, control/monitoring on top of this. BPM is looking at the real business process, by example a sales order process, which is containing several workflows.
At the other side BPM is not about technology, or drawing just nice process diagrams or having a nice underlying SOA-Implementation, but it’s about driving Business Agility!
And this is where the problems are starting with purely workflow solutions. They are looking from a technical point of view, in sometime situation these solutions are nothing more than code compilers (converting nice graphics into code/assemblies). And are not allowing the business users to have more control over their business processes or allow them to dynamically change the execution path of the processes. BPM will allow you also to create a higher transparency over your processes, streamline them and of course optimize them.
The success of Microsoft MOSS/SharePoint and its underlying Windows Workflow Foundation is not making it easier for people. MOSS and WF are great for what they are made and are intended to be used for, but at the other hand it’s dangerous as it can make a wrong impression or understanding to the outside world.
Bad products don’t exist any more, as long you use them for what they are made for.
Ever saw a plane sailing or a vessel taking off from the run-way?