Choosing a Business Process Management Suite (BPM) is not a simple task at all. A first decision to make is between on-premise or cloud-based tools. On-premise means installing on your own servers. On the other hand, in the cloud means using the software as a service over the Internet. In this post, we will focus on the latter. We will offer useful criteria for Managers and C-Levels, to make an adequate cloud BPM tools comparison. We will leave aside the endless comparisons of features and functionalities (like this example), which bring little to the decision maker.
For an adequate cloud BPM tools comparison, we will focus on four fundamental dimensions for the manager:
- Ease of adoption of the tool in the organization
- Convenience, from the economic point of view and its cost/benefit ratio
- Agility, to respond to changes, show results and accompany business needs
- Coverage, to have the peace of mind that the needs that arise tomorrow will be considered
We will pass each of these criteria through the four market-leading BPM tools in the cloud. All of them are of excellent quality but have very different characteristics: Kissflow, Process Maker, Nintex, and Flokzu.
Ease of adoption
First of all, the ease of adoption of the BPM solution should be the most important criterion for the cloud BPM tools comparison. BPM initiatives, like almost all enterprise-class initiatives, have high rates of resistance among users. This happens because they transform the way people work. And that resistance leads to high levels of failure. According to this Forbes study, the same is true for most Digital Transformation initiatives, when they are not seen as a gradual change but as an end in themselves. Ignoring this fact of reality is a dangerous mistake. The worst consequence is that users cannot “get on the wave” of process management.
To ensure rapid and consistent adoption, the most important aspects are a very user-friendly interface, excellent support, and the ability to quickly make improvements and changes to processes.
Kissflow: polished user interface, friendly and with modern components. Technical support works, but it was not as fast and effective as expected. Improvements and changes are made very quickly. The product, a non-code BPM, allows you to configure and modify processes very quickly. The weakest point is its limited functionality for configuring processes. This prevents some of the typical needs of workflow users from being met and can lead to rejection.
ProcessMaker: very broad functional set that allows us to meet different user needs. The user interface is old, based on the tabular paradigm with rows for each element. Technical support is not included in the open source version but is available for paid plans (more than USD 500 per month). Changes and improvements cannot be introduced very quickly, because the product is developer-oriented (unlike non-code BPM or low-code BPM).
Nintex: highly integrated product with SharePoint, users who already use this platform will be comfortable. The functional set is broad and allows to meet most of the needs. The user interface is correct, without standing out. Technical support is only available on paid plans (starting at USD 625). The product has its roots in the on-premise model, inheriting several features, including that it is more developer-oriented than business user-oriented, so changes involve technical expertise and take time, reducing the ability to meet user needs quickly.
Flokzu: an extremely user-friendly interface, with a powerful full-text search engine, alerts, and reports that provide the user with a comfortable and productive environment. Technical support works across all plans provided by process analysts who are able to make suggestions because they understand business needs. The product provides a Software as a Service (SaaS), pure non-Code BPM when it comes to deploying simple processes very quickly (i.e. process deployed in 6 minutes). However, it also offers the possibility of extending its operation with scripts and Web Services (low-code BPM) in order to meet advanced requirements and specific needs of users.
Convenience, determined by its cost/benefit ratio, is a very relevant criterion in the cloud BPM tools comparison.
Kissflow: provides a very competitive price, starting at USD 9 per user per month. There is a 10 users minimum, so in fact the price starts at USD 90 per month. This price includes the platform as a service as well as support services. Adding this to the fact that it takes only a few hours to set up a process makes the equation very attractive. The main problem is that the limited functionality can avoid meeting the needs of the business, reducing the benefit obtained. The non-use of the BPMN standard implies higher costs for disseminating and sharing process models.
ProcessMaker: provides a free, open-source option that must be installed on-premise so it’s outside this cloud BPM tools comparison. Cloud plans start at USD 1000 and require technical staff with programming skills. In addition to the cost, this is time-consuming and the processes will take longer to deploy.
Nintex: does not provide a free trial option. The Standard Starter Package, which costs USD 625, includes only five workflows and twenty-five forms. The next package called Enterprise also has the limitation of five workflows and twenty-five forms. For an organization looking to automate all its processes, a customized quote will be necessary and probably more expensive. The deployment time is not fast plus it’s oriented to technical staff. However, its wide range of functions allows it to meet most needs.
Flokzu: provides a 14-day Free Trial and offers two types of service plans. The first one, based on the number of nominated users, has a starting price of USD 15 per user per month. The other, based on the number of new process instances, has an initial price of USD 50 and unlimited users. The customer can change plans at any time, which gives flexibility. The ability to deploy processes quickly allows you to test the product immediately. This makes it easier to check if it fits your needs, at a reasonable cost.
Agility to respond to changes
Agility is a fundamental criterion in a cloud BPM tools comparison since it measures the capacity to react in time to changes in the market, regulatory or internal.
Kissflow: being a non-code tool, it is very agile when it comes to modifying a process and deploying it again. On the other hand, its incompatibility with the BPMN modeling standard may delay the understanding of the new processes. The dimensioned set of functionalities may require external (and time-consuming) developments to meet specific needs.
ProcessMaker: its orientation to technical personnel with programming skills to modify processes makes it less agile since processes must go through a Software Engineering cycle (design, development, testing, corrections, production) that it’s time-consuming, even if short. Its wide range of functions makes it possible to mitigate this problem. Probably all the needs can be met with the tool, without external developments.
Nintex: same as ProcessMaker, takes time but you can probably resolve any changes with the tool itself. If the organization also uses SharePoint, changes are likely to be more agile with Nintex. On the other hand, if the organization decides to depart from SharePoint, it will face associated complications.
Flokzu: its no-code / low-code model allows you to change processes quickly and deploy them, without requiring programming (no-code), or with very little (low-code). Add this to a process versioning mechanism and automatic migration to the latest version. This way, you can test and deploy changes very quickly. It provides a library of ready-to-use, ready-to-use processes that accelerate time-to-market. Public forms allow you to display a form on a website to initiate processes, without programming anything. Custom reports allow the user to configure them, reducing the number of IT requests for development.
Coverage of future needs
By Coverage, we mean the ability of the product to cover all unforeseen and additional situations to the initial plan that may occur in the future. Process management is not an end in itself, but a path to follow. Therefore, this is a long-term criterion, significant to the cloud BPM tools comparison.
Kissflow: being a cloud-based, enterprise-class tool, it’s safe to assume that it meets all the requirements of scalability, fault tolerance and security (checking them is beyond the scope of this comparison). When it comes to its integration capabilities with other legacy systems, it supports some integration through REST Web Services. It also includes a Zapier connector to integrate with other web apps. As a weak point, we can identify their limited process management functionality, which may prevent them from meeting future needs.
ProcessMaker: being a cloud-based, enterprise-class tool, it’s safe to assume that it meets all the requirements of scalability, fault tolerance and security (verifying them is beyond the scope of this comparison). Regarding its integration capabilities with other legacy systems, it supports integration through REST Web Services. Its wide range of functions and its BPMN support will allow us to take into account a large part of the future needs of the business. Furthermore, we can identify their limited process management functionality, which may prevent them from meeting future needs. In contrast, it does not provide a Zapier or other IFTTT connector. As a result, you will find limitations to connect your process with other web apps.
Nintex: being a corporate tool, it is to be assumed that it meets all the requirements of scalability, fault tolerance and security (to verify them is beyond the scope of this comparison). When it comes to its integration capabilities with legacy systems, it supports integration via REST Web Services, but this requires intensive programming. It also connects with Zapier. Not supporting the BPMN standard limits, your ability to share diagrams. Its strong integration with SharePoint is an advantage if the organization continues to use this platform, and a strong constraint if it decides to change it.
Flokzu: runs on Amazon Web Services, the global leader in cloud platforms, meeting the highest standards of scalability, fault tolerance and security. Flokzu supports Web Services SOAP and REST, both at the form and process level. This allows for the integration of legacy systems into processes or the extension of functionalities through specialized services. It also provides a Zapier connector to integrate with thousands of other Web applications. At the form level, it provides a Script Engine that allows you to include complex logic and thus meet needs that may arise in the future.
Cloud BPM Tools Comparison conclusions.
Performing an objective cloud BPM tools comparison is a complex task. The criteria involved in making the decision that is more important to a Manager than the endless list of features. The four main management criteria we identify are: Ease of Adoption, Economic Convenience, Agility to respond to changes and Coverage of future situations. In this article, we analyzed the main cloud-based BPM Suites using these criteria. Although we may have interests in this comparison, we have sought to give an objective and realistic view.
It has become clear from this analysis that a useful cloud BPM tools comparison involves several variables. And since no two tools are the same, and no two evaluators the same, the most important recommendation is that you try the tools. It is best to choose a real, medium complexity process. And then fully implement it with the BPM tool, analyzing how it behaves in each of the four dimensions.
At Flokzu we offer a free 14-day trial of our Premium service. We also offer BPM consultancy at no charge, to help you set up the first process and really get to know the software before making a decision.
You can also schedule a work session here to model a real-life process in your organization together
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