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Business Process Monitoring Tools you must know

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This article deals, among other things, with the definition of Business Process Monitoring (BPM), a term that is frequently understood in different ways. We will focus on the distinction between business processes (and their analysis in companies) and actual IT (service) monitoring (which is mainly the responsibility of an IT department), and will conclude by briefly showing a few products on the market that take various approaches.

Business Process Monitoring and Management

First, Business Process Management must be distinguished from Business Process Management, with which it commonly shares the acronym BPM. Business Process Management is the higher-level management concept, which also covers long-term, strategic control. Somewhat more of a hands-on concept, Business Process Monitoring, is the modeling, analysis, and targeted optimization of end-to-end business processes in order to meet certain predefined corporate goals.

The term “business process” has a relatively high significance in this context, because it can be used to make meaningful distinctions in the monitoring effort. A business process comprises various activities that support a company in achieving a specific goal. These activities are again very individual, depending of course on how a company is structured and also in which business area it operates. Business Process Monitoring then makes it possible to evaluate these business processes and identify opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce costs and avoid or at least reduce any errors.

Incidentally, the Gartner definition, which can be found here, is somewhat broader. According to it, Gartner describes business processes as the coordination of the behavior of people, systems, and things in order to achieve specific business results. The term “things” in this context refers to devices that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). At a minimum, a BPM platform includes: a graphical business process and/or rule modeling capability, a process registry/repository for managing modeling metadata, a process execution engine, and a state management engine or rule engine (or both). As we will see below, this is only moderately consistent with the solutions advertised under the term Business Process Monitoring.

IT-Service Monitoring and Management

There is an obvious difference between solutions for Business Process Monitoring and those for the much more technical IT service monitoring and management.

The IT services monitored with IT service monitoring form the basis for strategic business processes and operations that provide daily value to both the business and its customers. IT services are mostly heterogeneous, so they cover a very wide range of technologies, architectures, and deployment models:

  • physical data-center environments,
  • containers,
  • microservices,
  • IoT,
  • hybrid environments
  • and much more.

The end-to-end business service as experienced by the customers must also be supported by IT services. As IT infrastructures become larger and more complex, a silo-based approach to monitoring, where each technology layer is monitored independently by a different tool, is no longer sufficient. IT teams need a unified view and actionable insights to diagnose performance issues across the IT environment – both physical and virtual, and both on-premise and in the cloud.

Market solutions with various approaches

With different solutions currently on the market, the above terms are sometimes used interchangeably, sometimes with a blurred distinction; it therefore makes sense to briefly introduce a few products that offer either overarching Business Process Monitoring or the more specific IT service monitoring. We also highlight the respective advantages and focuses of the products.

Apian

Appian‘s highly specialized Business Process Management software, for example, is aimed very explicitly at companies that still rely on outdated methods in Business Process Management. These methods are usually based on too many manual steps, which leads to a loss of efficiency. Here, it is essentially a matter of the economic efficiency of the various processes and workflows of a company. The Appian BPM Suite includes the areas of Process, Visibility and Transparency, Forms, Content, Analytics, and Collaboration – so a very wide range of different processes.

Micro Focus

Micro FocusBusiness Process Monitoring solution, unlike Appian’s, focuses on pure IT tasks, but almost exclusively on advanced application performance monitoring. It promises to provide an overview of application performance trends and baselines. Micro Focus’ BPM Monitoring provides consistent measurements that help link business impact to root cause and review affected service level agreements.

PRTG Enterprise Monitor with ItOps Board

The all-rounder Paessler PRTG Enterprise Monitor manages the balancing act of covering many of the above-mentioned areas, although it is primarily a reliable monitoring solution based on 25 years of experience. PRTG Enterprise Monitor scales to large IT environments with thousands of devices and systems across multiple sites and provides an easy approach to gaining visibility and control over increasingly complex infrastructures. ITOps Board, which is only available with PRTG Enterprise Monitor, collects, correlates, and organizes alerts and notifications from one or more PRTG servers to create a business-oriented view of your network and infrastructure. It generates dependency diagrams, clear and focused dashboards, and automated incident workflows.

Whether it’s a purely business (or strategic) monitoring solution, a specialized application performance monitoring product, an all-in-one IT monitoring offering with a worry-free guarantee like PRTG Enterprise Monitor, or a solution with a completely different focus, the choice is vast. It is of course important to pay attention to the definitions of the individual providers in order to correctly assess the focus and possible features of a particular solution right from the start.

More articles like this one, where we go into basic questions about network monitoring, will soon also be available in our newsletter, for which you can already register here.

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