New BPM Panel Aims to Improve Software Quality

The BPM Forum launches the Software Economics Council, which seeks to respond to increasing concerns about cost, quality and integrity of business applications.

The BPM Forum, a consortium of businesses organized around the concept of bettering business process management, announced Tuesday the formation of a new group aimed at improving the caliber and quality of business applications.

The BPM Forum launched the Software Economics Council, or SECO, and appointed a leadership committee that includes executives from BEA Systems Inc., Deloitte & Touche LLP, Borland Software Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp., IBM, Oracle Corp., SAP AG, Siebel Systems Inc.,, and Sybase Inc., among a handful of other software developers and integrators.

The groups charter is in response to increasing concerns about the cost, quality and integrity of software, according to Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the BPM Forum.

"Through research we found a disproportionate amount of IT spending channeled toward applications," said Neale-May, in Palo Alto, Calif.

"Most of the people we surveyed see applications as critical, but theyre still struggling with the process of bringing apps to market quicker, and having issues with projects being delayed, projects being aborted, or grossly over budget."

With that backdrop in mind, SECOs mission is to bring together different ISVs, integrators, middleware providers and application developers, with the customers that actually use their products and services, to drive toward standards adoption and the standardization of processes.

The idea is to coax IT organizations to adopt a "proper" platform and methodology for building applications, according to Neale-May, who said the organizations research found that it currently costs the U.S. IT industry $60 billion a year to retrofit and take out errors in applications that havent been built effectively.

The first steps for the leadership committee are the development of a series of programs to determine issues within a specific area—enabling the mobile workforce for example, or determining whether companies that build better applications actually perform better financially.

When asked what development models are working, Neale-May pointed to Software as a Service.

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"We look at the ASP model and customers like that. It isnt a large investment where you have to spend 18 months to build a business-critical implementation to find it doesnt live up to expectations, or it failed," said Neale-May.

"Were seeing folks taking a long, hard look at licensing software and looking at a lot of other options out there."

Among other issues, the SECO committee will look at ways to build on the potential of open-source technology.

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