Overview of Process Automation & BPM Solutions

Process automation tools, meant for either small businesses and consumers, or for Enterprises, allow non-programmers to combine services from different vendors into a new piece of functionality. Enterprise and consumer tools differ from one another in the level of complexity and technical know-how that they require. Most tools meant for consumers can be configured with no more than a few simple steps. They allow people that don't write code to define automated behaviors between cloud-based services, such as sending yourself an email when this or that happens, adding a new contact to your mailing list or CRM when a form is submitted somewhere, or sending new content directly to your Dropbox folder. These can be regarded as productivity micro-tools, and are very limited in the scope of possibilities that they offer.

Zapier (YCombinator alumni) is a prominent tool, meant for very small businesses and consumers, which offers an extensive list of third party services to integrate with. IFTTT (a Betaworks profile company) is another prominent contestant, meant mostly for consumers and free of charge. Cloudwork (sister company of GetApp) covers the same space as well, and are working on a set of SDKs, and a visual editor, to allow anyone to create new integration types. Yahoo! Pipes is a tool to aggregate, manipulate and mash up feeds from third party services, that offers lots of useful functions for processing the data and is all assembled visually. Other alternatives in this sphere include RunMyProcess, Foxweave & WeWiredWeb.

BPM software for Enterprise customers are the other end of the spectrum. They normally provide form designers, visual process editors, rule engines and customizable dashboards for monitoring workflows. These solutions are relatively complex to operate, and usually require a learning period to adapt to. Their pricing levels are clearly meant for the Enterprise world. Competitors in this sphere include Appian, Skelta, Rollbase, Iceberg and ProcessMaker, to name a few.

*This article is part of a business plan I decided to edit into a series of blog posts. You can find the rest of the content here