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Process management strategic to managed services and SaaS

IDS Scheer says even in an economic downturn, fine-tuning your business processes can help you get more from your existing IT assets

Orlando – As the economy slows and as more companies look at managed services and Software as a Service (SaaS), IDS Scheer AG says business process modeling and optimization is becoming ever more strategic to businesses.

A German business process modeling (BPM) vendor, IDS Scheer produces the ARIS platform of BPM tools. It’s used by consultants and partners to ease and lessen the risk of BI implementations and upgrades, and the company has relationships with the major BI vendors, including SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. IDC Scheer also has a strong SAP implementation business, and was recently named SAP’s 2007 Channel Partner of the Year.

At the company’s annual Americas user conference in Orlando, Thomas Volk, IDS Scheer’s president and CEO, said companies are facing more pressure to change and be ready to adapt to changing business demands, but they don’t always know if the proposed changes will lead to the desired results. BPM, said Volk, can help companies make the right changes.

“Processes are the key element to change because that determines how the change will happen,” said Volk. “The ability to continuously improve your business…has proven to be critical to customers with the changes they are facing.”

In a slowing economy long-term projects and investments that don’t have an immediate ROI are often the first to go, and for companies in non-process intensive industries investing in BPM may not be seen as a priority. It’s in just these situations though, said Volk, that BPM can play an important role.

“Fine-tuning your existing infrastructure and using it more efficiently without buying more IT is a good value proposition,” said Volk, noting a new product from IDS Scheer can help businesses better leverage their existing infrastructure. “It looks at how do you link your IT assets with the business processes and leverage them more, so some of the investments you’d planned maybe we don’t have to do anymore.

Companies are also increasingly turning to managed services and SaaS as a less risky way to upgrade their IT infrastructures, but Volk said moving to one of these models doesn’t make modeling, understanding and fine tuning business processes any less important, and isn’t impacting IDS Scheer’s business.

“This introduces a change in the business and how you do things, and from that perspective we don’t see it hindering us,” said Volk. “It’s another reason to make sure, when moving to a new environment, that they’re actually getting the benefits and you can link the change to the result you want.”

With the ARIS platform, businesses can define their business processes, examine proposed changes, and test and simulate the outcome to see what works well and what needs to be tweaked. It’s important to not just look at how the business model will change, said Volk, but how the changes will impact the business from end to end, along with the underlying technologies that will need to be adapted.

“All these elements are becoming more and more critical to executives and businesses,” said Volk.

On the SAP side in particular, the business is changing as with SAP 6.0 the vendor changes its upgrade cadence from major upgrades to regular enhancement packs designed to be less disruptive. Jim Shepherd, a senior vice-president with Boston-based AMR Research said as companies become able to decide which enhancement packs to implement, the enhancement packs will likely be more closely linked to process improvement.

But while IDS Scheer would like process improvement to be a continuous exercise, Shepherd said for most companies that’s just not the case.

“You’d like it to be continuous but the reality is process improvement tends to be in a project basis,” said Shepherd.