Welcome to the (Business Workflow) Jungle, ServiceNow

We welcome ServiceNow’s entry into business process workflow market. Our strong belief is that more competition is always better for the customers. Usually more competition leads to lower prices, better products and higher quality. We are not very confident that such a scenario will reveal itself in the case of ServiceNow.

But first let’s evaluate the merits of one approach vs. another based on the needs, desires and aspirations of people that take part in, own, or design business processes for various functional domains. Many of these functional domains such as sales, commerce, marketing, design and engineering, manufacturing, order fulfillment, logistics, supply chain are interrelated. We can argue that ERP and various specialized application suites (CRM, Supply Chain, Human Resources..) already support many of the business processes. The problem has been that ERP and application suites due to their transaction oriented design, complexity and cost, have left huge swaths of people that are central to business process out of the business process. These huge swaths of people have neither the visibility, nor take part in the business process.

ZFlow was designed and has been in use among many medium-sized to large customers for several years to address the above problems that many of these companies faced with ERP systems and application suites. Our customers have designed (themselves) business process workflows in many functional domains, including sales, engineering, manufacturing, order fulfillment, quality, finance and maintenance. What we learned from that experience is that workflow systems are best when they

  • Can support simple to sophisticated workflows that can bring user oriented activities (data preparation, reviews, approvals, etc.) and system integration (now called automation) activities into one process
  • Can handle process data, some of which can be fairly complex, that provides rich context to the process and often drives workflow logic
  • Provides an easy and methodical way for a very large number of people from within the organization and the supply chain to take part in and complete workflow activities
  • Do not charge for every user that participates in the workflow as it can be cost-prohibitive and counter-productive to the whole concept of collaborative workflow
  • Support invitation and participation of users dynamically as part of workflows
  • Require minimal or no programming (We definitely understand the need for programming for sophisticated workflows. In our experience, any introduction of code in a workflow system makes it less dynamic, but in some cases that is what is needed to provide meaningful and useful workflows)
  • Allow continuous updates and improvements to workflow easily. What’s the point of having a workflow if it cannot be improved as and when needed.

In all of the above facets, ZFlow has proven to be one of the best and remains unmatched. We don’t see that changing even with ServiceNow entering the market.

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