Should BPM be a part of ECM?
Most content management implementations have some kind of workflow requirements. For web content management projects, it is mostly “create-edit-review-publish” paradigm whereas for document centric requirements, it is more involved. There are requirements like scanning,
integration with systems for applications like claims and loan processing. However, it is still a workflow and in my opinion, is different from Business Process Management (BPM). A BPM system needs much more than this. An example could be automating a process that interacts with multiple applications – a process that gets an employee’s travel information from an EIP, picks up employee eligibility data from an ERP, sends a request for approval to employee’s supervisor, sends a request for ticketing and accommodation and finally shows employee’s itinerary back in the portal.
Most ECM products actually have good workflow capabilities but many of them, maybe apart from Filenet also try to pass off as BPM products. If ECM products are used for such business process requirements, there is only limited functionality that they can achieve. Quite a few of these vendors are building BPM capabilities but I think it would be quite sometime before they can claim to be providing full fledged BPM capabilities.
So, if your requirements are more document centric, you can use your ECM products. However, if your requirements are more process or integration centric, I do not think that the current crop of ECM products will satisfy your needs . In the long run though, I think that the big players, as they have done in other areas, will either gobble up stand alone BPM products or will improve their current workflow capabilities to include BPM too. Emergence of open source products like jBPM or other low cost offerings will also give a boost to this trend.