Business Process Management Systems (BPMSs) are increasingly implemented in and across organizations. There is much talk on BPMSs, and software vendors and IT-consultancy companies are leveraging this. In this paper we provide an investigation on the originality of BPMSs. We identify concepts, features and characteristics of such systems, and trace them back to business and IT concepts from the past, like Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Total Quality Management (TQM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Workflow Management (WFM) systems. We conclude that much of what BPMSs entail comes from earlier business and IT innovations.
However, the combination of functionality, concepts and characteristics in BPMSs make new applications in IT possible. We end our paper with a research agenda for BPMSs.