FileNet Business Process Manager (BPM) has the flexibility and scalability to deal with the most complex business processes. It can handle millions of transactions, thousands of users, and multiple business applications. It also supplies a set of tools that lets you create, modify, manage, analyze, and simulate your own business processes. The business process can be directly performed in the generic user interface, FileNet Workplace. You can also build your application with Process Engine API to execute these business processes.
The FileNet P8 Platform provides the baseline components, including the Content Engine, Process Engine, Application Engine, and Rendition Engine. The most important component used for business process management (BPM) is the Process Engine. Figure 1 shows its architecture diagram.
Figure 1. FileNet P8 BPM Architecture
As you can see in the diagram above, besides the powerful process engine, the FileNet BPM also provides many convenient services and tools to manage all aspects of business processes, such as process routing, rules management, process simulation and modeling, and process analysis. The following section shows you how to utilize these tools to analyze, model, and perform your own business processes.
IBM Content Manager is a product portfolio designed to manage volumes of unstructured content. This unstructured content includes documents, images, audio files, streaming videos, billing reports, business records, and Web content. It provides two, out-of-the-box content management solutions, Windows® Client and e-Client, based upon its integrated platform for e-business solutions. Content Manager support IBM DB2® and Oracle which are the mainstream enterprise database systems. And it supports multiple platforms including low-end Windows and Linux®, middle-end Unix®, and high-end z/OS®. By leveraging these powerful underlying infrastructures, it can handle a huge volume of content with good performance. Figure 2 depicts its architecture.
Figure 2. IBM Content Manager architecture
Many companies that already use IBM Content Manager as their critical content repository may be looking for ways to leverage FileNet BPM as a way to manage their content-based business processes. This series uses a fictitious company, the ABC Company, as an example to show you step-by-step instructions on how you can integrate FileNet BPM with the IBM Content Manager.
The motivation for integrating FileNet P8 BPM with IBM Content Manager is to enable enterprise to enjoy the benefits of process-driven content-intensive application, and to move away from monolithic applications where business processes and information integrity rules are buried inside application code. Existing enterprise customers of IBM have enjoyed over the years the scalability of IBM Content Manager. Not only have they built business applications around IBM Content Manager, but also have accumulated petabytes of enterprise content in those repositories.
On the other hand, driven by the need to achieve higher business agility, there is significant movement today in enterprises to have their business processes reside explicitly outside of applications, so that they can take ownership of these business processes, rather than being tied to the release cycle of application vendors to realize their business process re-engineering initiatives. P8 BPM provides best-in-class business process automation capabilities for content-intensive applications. Thus, integrated P8 BPM capabilities with IBM Content Manager becomes a strategic platform for existing repository owners towards their taking ownership of their business processes while preserving existing investments in our repository products and without moving petabytes of existing content.
ABC Company is a large insurance company in an emerging country that focuses on life insurance and auto insurance. It has many documents stored in the IBM Content Manager, such as policy documents, pictures, claims documents, and customer information documents.
The company needs to adjust their rules and business logic based on continuously changing business requirements. But, it is very costly to change the business process and business rule embedded in the existing applications. They want a solution to improve the business agility and to enable them to accelerate business growth. ABC Company has the following requirements:
- The business process and rules can be simulated
- The business process and rules can be tracked, analyzed, and statistical
- The business process and rules can deal with the different roles of people
- The business process can be either sequential or parallel
- The business process can be synchronized with any other business processes
- The business process can be associated with a deadline
- The business process can interact with the third party applications
- Work can be assigned or reassigned to a user
- All the instances of the business process can be administered
- A work item of a business process can be locked or unlocked
- Milestones can be added to a business process
- e-mail notification can be sent to the business process participant when the work arrives
There are many business processes in ABC Company. We use the "Auto Insurance Claim" business process as a scenario to analyze its requirements.
The basic outline of this process is as follows:
- The Customer Service Representative (CSR) collects the customer’s claim, detailed information of the RoadEvent, and the related documents into the content management repository. The created AutoClaim (including all this information) is sent to the adjuster to process.
- The adjuster receives AutoClaim, checks and evaluates the detailed information and the related documents, and calculates the ClaimAmount of the AutoClaim.
- If the ClaimAmount is more than $2000, this AutoClaim will be sent to the supervisor for approval. Otherwise, the adjuster can approve this AutoClaim.
- If the AutoClaim was rejected, the adjuster sends a notification mail to the claimer. Otherwise, the adjuster submits the payment request.
There are three roles in this business process: CSR, adjuster, and Supervisor. These roles are shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Role definition of ABC Company’s auto insurance claim process
Figure 4 shows a class diagram depicting the business entities based on the business requirements:
Figure 4. Class diagram of the auto insurance claim Scenario
Figure 5 shows the business process as an activity diagram:
Figure 5. Activity diagram of the auto insurance claim scenario
The system architecture for the integration of FileNet BPM and IBM Content Manager is decided after requirement analysis and model design. Figure 6 shows the architecture of the AMC Company's auto insurance claim system:
Figure 6. The architecture of the ABC Company's auto insurance claim system
The development approach is outlined as follows:
- Create the CM8 schema: Every CM item type is mapped from one entity in the data model.
- Create business objects: We create a set of business objects (Java® classes) that can access CM8 repositories transparently at high level. For each entity in the data model, a business object is created. Moreover, we create a gateway class which wraps all the operations of all the business objects and does data-type conversions to overcome some limitations of P8 BPM Component Integrator.
- Register the gateway class into Component Integrator: We register the gateway class using Component Integrator. The methods of all the business objects for a given repository can be accessed by business processes in P8 BPM via a single component queue.
- Define business process: With the use of the P8 process designer tool, you define the process where the process steps can refer to the operations of the gateway class which invokes the corresponding methods of business objects and ultimately communicate with CM8 repositories.
- Create or modify UI: You can create or modify UI client code needed to launch the processes, access in-boxes of users, accept user's input and display of business objects and the like. This is accomplished by calling BPM API and methods of business objects.
The preceding steps are illustrated below using an Insurance Claim Processing application example for the ABC Company. For the first step, you can use the IBM Content Manager System Administrator Client to create the item-type definition. For a quick setup, you can also import the process definition from the XML file in the Downloads section. Figure 7 shows the import:
Figure 7. Use IBM Content Manager System Administration Client to import the XML schema file
After importing the XML schema file into the IBM Content Manager, you will see that the imported item types are corresponding to classes of the class diagram in Figure 4. Figure 8 shows the customer content schema:
Figure 8. The created item type
In Part 1 of this series, you have seen a broad overview of the architecture of FileNet P8 BPM and IBM Content Manager V8. Based on the ABC Company’s case study, we have analyzed the business requirements, created a business class model and a business process model, designed the architecture for ABC Company’s Auto Insurance Claim system. And we also created a data model definition in the IBM Content Manager system to finish the first step of the system implementation, you can download the attachments, and import them into your IBM Content Manager system.
Part 2 will introduce you how to create the Java Business Entities to manipulate the data in the IBM Content Manager repository and how to create a gateway class for these Java Business Entities.
|Data model definition in IBM Content Manager||datamodel.xsd||53.9KB||HTTP|
Visit the developerWorks Enterprise Content Management to expand your Content Manager skills and link to articles, tutorials, documentation, and so on.
See An Analysis of IBM DB2 Enterprise Content Management Products to learn the usage of the IBM DB2 Content Manager.
Visit the FileNet Business Process Manager to learn more about Business Process Management skills.
Visit the IBM FileNet P8 4.0 to learn more about the whole platform about FileNet P8.
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Peng Shi is a software engineer in IBM China Software Development Lab (CSDL). He works on IBM Content Manager development. He is a certified WebSphere Studio V5.0 developer. He has also worked as software engineer for FileNet development.