The principles of BPM and SOA approaches are settling in a wide variety of organizations. More and more organizations are shifting towards Process Oriented management styles and Service enablement is embedded into an increasing number of IT solutions. From a business perspective, process-orientation is used to increase the level of control the business has over it’s end-to-end processes. Extending the level of process control beyond currently automated process steps improves the insight in process performance. This enables managers to continuously monitor and improve the business processes and empowers them to contribute to the business strategy and objectives.
From an IT perspective, process orientation leads to improved definition of required support and capabilities. Transforming into Process-Centric IT support improves alignment with the business requirements and provides guidance for implementing and executing the IT strategy. Services Orientation and BPM Suites offer architectural guidelines and service, modeling and composition based tools for executing this strategy.
Several experts have already begun to explore the way BPM (as a management methodology) and SOA (as an IT architecture approach) are complementary and tools to support these claims (composition tools, model to execution tools, etc…) are becoming general available. Furthermore architecture frameworks, methodologies, semantics and standards are developing fast, growing into maturity. This provides a growing foundation and a proper resource base for establishing a BPM and SOA footprint in organizations. So, whether we want it or not, whether we plan for it or not, the principles underlying Enterprise Architecture, BPM and SOA are gradually coming our way. They are sneaking into our (IT) organization through business development, management principles and software deployment.
That being said, what is it that is coming our way? Well, the experience of several BPM oriented projects in the past few years, tells us it is a whole new ball game that awaits us! First of all, the way we think about IT will drastically change. Architecture Frameworks, BPM methodologies and Governance principles will provide a new set of rules and guidelines by which we have to play the game. Furthermore, extending processes beyond the boundaries of our core applications will support new user groups in our organizations which will have different requirements regarding support user interaction. Finally, the shift from the application and functionality oriented business perspective to Process Centric IT initiatives will force a mind shift in the way we define our projects and design our solutions.
Another change will have to be the way we work. The way we do projects, the roles and responsibilities in which we are organized, the phases in which we organize our projects, the direct interaction between developers and end-users based on prototyping and proof of concepts. Everything is subject to change and it’s time to wake up and realize nobody can evade these changes ahead of us!
Finally and maybe most eminent, the tools we work with are going to change. Integrating the Business-to-Model and the Model-to-Execution layers is one of the main challenges we are dealing with (and were the alignment between BPM and SOA becomes evident). The tools to support this integration will be based on the same principles as the ones laid down by the approach: transparency and flexibility based on re-usability and compliance to standards. Composition and model driven development are the key words for this new line of (developer) tools that support the alignment between BPM and SOA. NetWeaver Composition Environment is SAP’s key answer to this requirement and definitely a promising one (see also the NetWeaver BPM whitepaper by Bruce Silver Associates).
In a series of 3 more blogs I will go deeper into these 3 areas of change, underlining the importance of getting involved now and providing insight in the day to day experience at customer projects with these new ways of working.