Click here to close now.

Welcome!

MICROSERVICES Authors: David Sprott, Lori MacVittie, Carmen Gonzalez, Michael Kanasoot, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: MICROSERVICES, Java, XML, AJAX & REA, Oracle

MICROSERVICES: Article

BPM Without Barriers

The foundation of BPM includes time-tested technologies for managing both workflow and system interaction

Business processes manage the operational flow of business and when optimized achieve cost containment and flexibility as they need to be efficient and able to adapt to changing business conditions. The art of planning and implementing process management requires all the best cross-functional project management skills one can provide and tools that facilitate the task. Yet when trying to improve the management of processes, the business is often constrained by tool limitations that impose additional artificial barriers that impede success. These barriers result from design considerations and limitations of the capabilities, performance, and scalability. This article details these barriers to BPM and what is required to minimize or eliminate them.

Process Management and Technology
Process management has long been inspired by the latest available technology. Recall that Henry Ford was able to streamline the auto assembly process, which increased the efficiency of workers dramatically and brought the cost of the car down so that more people could buy cars. The technology inspiration for improving this process was the meat-processing conveyor. Regardless of whether the technology improvement has been mechanical or computer driven, process management has consistently leveraged it for increased benefit. The recent introduction of social networking and cloud technology will similarly deliver benefits to improved processes. Given the never-ending technology evolution, why then do product barriers to achieving success with BPM exist?

Process Management Barriers
It helps to consider the genealogy of business process management solutions. Business process management has roots in two mature proven technologies: Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and human workflow. These types of solutions have been available in some form for many years. EAI primarily enables system-to-system interactions and processes, where workflow simplifies human and document-centric processes.

The good news is that BPM has embraced and evolved these two mature, proven technologies; however like all technologies that at one time competed for acceptance there is often functional overlap and confusion as to appropriate usage.

Barrier: Perceived Process Separation
Often the discussion about processes and the technology to manage them is categorized by process characteristics such as human, system, document, and decision-centric that then leads to the appropriate tools to manage them. From a pragmatic perspective, this doesn't make sense since all these process types often coexist in a single enterprise process. Supporting multiple process technologies requires additional skills and impacts productivity, total cost of ownership, and efficiency. Separate technologies, whether in a suite or in separate products, create disjointed, inefficient tools and are not practical for the processes of today that incorporate multiple process characteristics.

Figure 1: Composite processes include all types of process styles

Barrier: Integrating the integration tools before managing the process
One byproduct of the evolution from separate tools for different processes is the lack of cohesive integration among tools to enable a unified process management solution. The result is that too much time is initially required to integrate these components before any meaningful work can be done optimizing the process. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) helps the integration challenge in an important way.

SOA is focused on organizing IT infrastructure with the goal of greater efficiency through reuse and agility with the use of services. It is a response to proliferation in systems, technologies, communication protocols, databases and data models. The strategy is to hide this complexity behind a set of business services and provide an infrastructure that standardizes how these services communicate and how they are managed. The result of such an initiative is that IT can respond faster and build new solutions for the business faster and cheaper. But the SOA transformation project itself predominantly benefits IT.

BPM, in a complementary way, is focused on directly optimizing business performance by looking at business processes. This approach is about achieving additional insight into operating procedures and work processes and using this insight to control quality, increase efficiency and drive continuous improvement. The goal of a BPM initiative is stated in business terms (% faster customer service, % reduction in costs, etc.), and these results can be measured directly by the resulting BPM solution. In essence, BPM provides business with greater efficiency and agility.

With the two working together to improve both business and IT efficiency and agility, it provides synergy enabling the enterprise to achieve even higher levels of value. BPM certainly can work without SOA by directly integrating systems, but working with SOA provides additional benefits and the integration between the two simplifies the task and delivers increased benefits.

Barrier: Business and IT Collaboration
Business process management enables the efficient management of change. Change in markets, change due to competition, a change in organization from an acquisition, or a change in available technological solutions. People and organizations in IT and the business are naturally wary to change as it impacts work ownership, control, and even job security. Communication and collaboration throughout the process lifecycle are necessary to avoid the potential impact of miscommunication. The tools most widely used for this are email and external collaboration systems. Email is a poor choice as it lacks process context. Each and every message in the inbox relates to a different context. Users often try to establish context using folders and rules, but usage and the benefit varies across the community of process participants adding uncertainty to the collaborative process.

External collaboration systems centralize communication and collaboration whether it is through a wiki, portal, or some other site paradigm. The drawback is that without integration to the process management system and to the management of all types of processes the context is missing and the usefulness of this collaboration is limited.

Barrier: Complexity Limits Tactical BPM success
Business process inefficiencies exist throughout the enterprise and can increase costs of both strategic and tactical processes. Strategic process initiatives often redeploy an organization's resources in a transformational way to provide competitive advantage. It may mean supporting a change in the organizational vision, objectives, and the strategy to achieve success. Defining a new company direction, acquiring another company, and adapting to market dynamics or obsolescence are examples of how strategic change requires redeployment of resources and greater process efficiency. This is the traditional sweet spot for BPM where processes span multiple functional silos and applications. An example is the employee, customer, or partner on-boarding process. But what about process challenges that impact just one functional system?

This is often the domain of tactical BPM solutions where the business pain is still significant but the project scope may be smaller and the time frame for value more immediate like, for example, compliance with new regulations. All enterprises have both tactical and strategic challenges, yet the urgency of tactical requirements often consumes them. BPM is often thought of as a solution best suited to strategic processes because the time-critical nature of tactical projects may be too rigorous for the complexity introduced by a BPM system and its disparate components.

Barrier: BPM Tools for Only the Tech Savvy
The market for BPM, now in its second decade of adoption, has expanded from early adopter tech savvy enterprises to mainstream companies that are more conservative and risk averse. This natural progression requires that products evolve to suit the changing needs of these businesses. BPM tools that require substantial integration just to manage all types of processes fail to address the need of this expanding market. Difficult-to-use tools that inhibit business participation also constrain adoption across the enterprise, which makes collaboration and process management success challenging.

Breaking Through the Barriers to BPM
As an established technology and business solution, there are many best practices that articulate how to best approach the typical challenges of increasing efficiency with BPM. However, these primarily address the practice of BPM. To break through the barriers previously discussed requires a more integrated, easer-to-use approach:

  • Unified BPM to reduce complexity, cost, and time-to-value
  • Easier-to-use tools for business users and increased use by less tech savvy enterprises
  • Faster time-to-value for greater use in both tactical and strategic projects
  • BPM that reduces complexity and manages all types of processes
  • Unified collaboration across all processes and in the context of BPM
  • Synergy with SOA to reduce integration and complexity

These characteristics enable streamlined management of processes regardless of the styles of processes they include. A unified offering eliminates the pre-integration task of tools that undermines the focus on process improvement. Unified collaboration enables communication in context and richness of choice for how participants work together. A streamlined, unified process management system reduces complexity and time-to-value, enabling greater use in tactical projects that provides the additional benefit of building the infrastructure for strategic change and success. A unified approach reduces complexity and increases ease-of-use. Tools designed for all audiences of participants increases the usefulness for all members of the process life cycle and enables task delegation to those in the business responsible for corresponding business responsibility. These BPM solution characteristics all help the achievement of process management success and, more importantly, an enterprise transformation to a more efficient, agile, and manageable business.

Oracle BPM Suite 11g
Oracle BPM Suite 11g has been designed to eliminate these barriers with a unified approach that reduces complexity and with unified tools that empower process life-cycle participants. It is comprised of three functional areas. A unified process foundation reduces complexity and simplifies process management with pre-integration of process subsystems. User-centric design simplifies process modeling and interaction for all process participants that are part of the entire process life cycle. Social BPM interaction simplifies and extends collaboration providing new ways to communicate and align the business and IT.

Figure 2: Oracle Unified BPM Suite 11g

Summary
The management of business processes has consistently leveraged improvements and innovations in technology to enable increased efficiency, business visibility, and agility. The foundation of BPM includes time-tested technologies for managing both workflow and system interaction. The evolution of the tools used to manage processes while delivering greater benefit has often introduced artificial barriers that constrain success. These barriers include the type of process capabilities, poor integration of components, inconsistent collaboration void of process context, complexity that limits the use as a tactical solution, and tools designed for only tech savvy companies.

Oracle has recognized these challenges and designed a solution that eliminates these barriers to BPM success. Oracle BPM Suite 11g simplifies the BPM effort with a unified solution that manages all types of processes with a unified process foundation, user centric design, and social BPM interaction. One unified design simplifies use and removes complexity. It is a complete solution that empowers tactical solutions and innovation today and can scale, as the business need requires it. It enables more effective collaboration in the context of BPM and greater communication flexibility with social communication.


Sidebar: Win with Tactical BPM
Technology moves quickly and it is natural to be unaware of some of the changes that could impact our business. The ability to manage tactical process challenges on a schedule required for tactical success is one of them. There is a persistent view that BPM is best only for addressing strategic process challenges. This is consistent with the solutions of the past but not reflective of unified process management technology that today can reduce complexity, time-to-value, and cost which is so critical for tactical requirements. The use of BPM for tactical initiatives has a number of benefits:

  • These are often less complicated processes involving fewer enterprise systems
  • Enables IT to demonstrate success with BPM by addressing business validated problems
  • Usually has substantial return on investment due to the business pain
  • Builds the infrastructure, skills, and knowledge that enables strategic change with BPM for the future

Next time the urgency of tactical challenge comes knocking on the door, consider how you can address it with BPM and achieve both short term and long term business benefit at the same time.

More Stories By Dan Tortorici

Dan Tortorici, Director of Product Marketing for Oracle Business Process Management products, is a domain expert in enterprise business process management and enterprise software. His experience in the private sector as a customer of enterprise software technology has given him a pragmatic perspective in the application of technology to address business challenges.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Cloud computing is changing the way we look at IT costs, according to industry experts on a recent Cloud Luminary Fireside Chat panel discussion. Enterprise IT, traditionally viewed as a cost center, now plays a central role in the delivery of software-driven goods and services. Therefore, companies need to understand their cloud utilization and resulting costs in order to ensure profitability on their business offerings. Led by Bernard Golden, this fireside chat offers valuable insights on ho...
Microservices, for the uninitiated, are essentially the decomposition of applications into multiple services. This decomposition is often based on functional lines, with related functions being grouped together into a service. While this may sound a like SOA, it really isn't, especially given that SOA was an object-centered methodology that focused on creating services around "nouns" like customer and product. Microservices, while certainly capable of being noun-based, are just as likely to be v...
SYS-CON Events announced today the DevOps Foundation Certification Course, being held June ?, 2015, in conjunction with DevOps Summit and 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. This sixteen (16) hour course provides an introduction to DevOps – the cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, integration and automation in order to improve the flow of work between software developers and IT operations professionals. Improved workflows will res...
Chef and Canonical announced a partnership to integrate and distribute Chef with Ubuntu. Canonical is integrating the Chef automation platform with Canonical's Machine-As-A-Service (MAAS), enabling users to automate the provisioning, configuration and deployment of bare metal compute resources in the data center. Canonical is packaging Chef 12 server in upcoming distributions of its Ubuntu open source operating system and will provide commercial support for Chef within its user base.
You hear the terms “subscription economy” and “subscription commerce” all the time. And with good reason. Subscription-based monetization is transforming business as we know it. But what about usage? Where’s the “consumption economy”? Turns out, it’s all around us. When most people think of usage-based billing, the example that probably comes to mind first is metered public utilities — water, gas and electric. Phone services, especially mobile, might come next. Then maybe taxis. And that’s ab...
Learn the top API testing issues that organizations encounter and how automation plus a DevOps team approach can address these top API testing challenges. Ensuring API integrity is difficult in today's complex application cloud, on-premises and hybrid environment scenarios. In this interview with TechTarget, Parasoft solution architect manager Spencer Debrosse shares his experiences about the top API testing issues that organizations encounter and how automation and a DevOps team approach can a...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch ...
An explosive combination of technology trends will be where ‘microservices’ and the IoT Internet of Things intersect, a concept we can describe by comparing it with a previous theme, the ‘X Internet.' The idea of using small self-contained application components has been popular since XML Web services began and a distributed computing future of smart fridges and kettles was imagined long back in the early Internet years.
After what feel like an interminable cycle of media frenzy followed by hype and hysteria cycles, the practical elements of real world cloud implementations are starting to become better documented. But what is really different in the cloud? How do software applications behave, live, interact and interconnect inside the cloud? Where do cloud architectures differ so markedly from their predecessors that we need to learn a new set of mechanics – and, when do we start to refer to software progra...
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microser...
It's 2:15pm on a Friday, and I'm sitting in the keynote hall at PyCon 2013 fidgeting through a succession of lightning talks that have very little relevance to my life. Topics like "Python code coverage techniques" (ho-hum) and "Controlling Christmas lights with Python” (yawn - I wonder if there's anything new on Hacker News)...when Solomon Hykes takes the stage, unveils Docker, and the world shifts. If you haven't seen it yet, you should watch the video of Solomon's Pycon The Future of Linux C...
This month I want to revisit supporting infrastructure and datacenter environments. I have touched (some would say rant) upon this topic since my post in April 2014 called "Take a Holistic View of Support". My thoughts and views on this topic have not changed at all: it's critical for any organization to have a holistic, comprehensive strategy and view of how they support their IT infrastructure and datacenter environments. In fact, I believe it's even more critical today then it was a year ago ...
The 16th Cloud Expo has added coverage containers and microservices to its program for New York, to be held June 9-11 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Cloud Expo has long been the single, independent show where delegates and technology vendors can meet to experience and discuss the entire world of the cloud. This year will be no different. Containers are an old concept that saw renewed life with the emergence of Docker in 2013. Then late in 2014, CoreOS shook up the cloud-computing w...
OmniTI has expanded its services to help customers automate their processes to deliver high quality applications to market faster. Consistent with its focus on IT agility and quality, OmniTI operates under DevOps principles, exploring the flow of value through the IT delivery process, identifying opportunities to eliminate waste, realign misaligned incentives, and open bottlenecks. OmniTI takes a unique, value-centric approach by plotting each opportunity in an effort-payoff quadrant, then work...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and eas...
When it comes to microservices there are myths and uncertainty about the journey ahead. Deploying a “Hello World” app on Docker is a long way from making microservices work in real enterprises with large applications, complex environments and existing organizational structures. February 19, 2015 10:00am PT / 1:00pm ET → 45 Minutes Join our four experts: Special host Gene Kim, Gary Gruver, Randy Shoup and XebiaLabs’ Andrew Phillips as they explore the realities of microservices in today’s IT worl...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on T...
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organ...
Even though it’s now Microservices Journal, long-time fans of SOA World Magazine can take comfort in the fact that the URL – soa.sys-con.com – remains unchanged. And that’s no mistake, as microservices are really nothing more than a new and improved take on the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) best practices we struggled to hammer out over the last decade. Skeptics, however, might say that this change is nothing more than an exercise in buzzword-hopping. SOA is passé, and now that people are ...