I just attended the Gartner BPM conference in San Diego. There were over 1000 attendees -- growing considerably from last year's conference. It was a very interesting conference -- starting with Simon Hayward's Keynote walking through critical success factors for BPM. This was the talk of town -- there was a lot of discussion on the keys to success for BPM enabled by SOA.
I had lots of discussion on "What BPM is?" -- a discipline that involves thoughtful focus on process -- selecting the right process to focus on, looking at the organization, the culture, and the way you manage process improvement and innovation. Also I had lots of great discussions on the required Software Capbilitty and the value of SOA (Which to me is when you see the real value of BPM -- with SOA flexibility !)
IBM is investing heavily in BPM, and have seen numerous clients from small to enterprise across every industry see its value in growing their competitive advantage. We introduced 5 starting points -- flexible starting points -- to assist customers to deploy BPM with SOA at the rate and pace they need for real business results. The 5 starting points are Modeling and Simulation, Monitoring, Rules and Frameworks, Content centric processing, and process choregraphy. We have also expanded our BPM with SOA capability and expertise showing off the WebSphere Business Services Fabric, the BPM methodology, the SOA business catalog, the Filenet BPM capabilities, and new process models based on opens standards like PCF.
I also saw some great customers talking about their lessons learned. Speaking with me on stage was ANZ -- Barry McGibb - and he did a great job outlining his vision and approach for BPM with SOA. Another favorite of mine was the customer speaker - Tom -- from Sloan!
The biggest debates that I heard at the conference were:1) How to align business and IT and get them as excited about BPM as IT is. In fact, about 40% of the attendees at this conference were from the business side.
2) The second was the relationship of BPM and SOA -- in fact Darryl Plummer did a great talk on how BPM and SOA are joined at the hip. Here are my thoughts on the subject that we recently had published!!
The role of Business Process Management in a Service Oriented Architecture StrategySandy Carter, Vice President, SOA and WebSphere Strategy, Channels and Marketing, IBM
In today's competitive environment where companies are merging, consolidating and striving to uncover new growth opportunities, savvy business leaders are recognizing the value that comes from working more closely with information technology (IT) professionals.
Driven in large part by the growing adoption rates of a service oriented architecture (SOA) strategy, more and more organizations are realizing that the alignment of IT and business delivers tangible results and significant returns in terms of productivity, competitive advantage and cost savings.
However, to seize these new opportunities and realize the benefits that can be derived from an SOA, companies need to streamline their business processes and eliminate the recreation of the wheel that too often happens when an organization and its technology resources are locked into silos.
For example, these business processes can include such functions as ordering supplies, reimbursing expenses or booking business travel. When each department or team within a larger organization has its own ‘system’ to handle these types of business processes, it may prove effective for a smaller subset of the company but is largely ineffective for the entire business. Consider the advantages that can be reaped in terms of productivity and cost savings when there is an agreed upon approach to filing an expense report or automating travel requests.
Addressing these issues and uncovering ways to automate and improve business processes without requiring additional resources is top of mind for today’s organizations as they aim to more effectively and efficiently compete in an ever changing marketplace. This growing need has led to the rise of the business process management (BPM) market.
The Growing Demand for BPMBPM is a discipline combining software capabilities and business expertise to accelerate process improvement and facilitate business innovation. One could argue that BPM is based on the principles of SOA with both aiming to empower the organization to more quickly respond to changing market conditions that result from planned events such as mergers and acquisitions or external influences such as competitor moves.
There are several factors driving the increased focus on BPM. These include the need to:
Ensure consistency throughout the company, especially with regard to compliance;Optimize processes for maximum efficiency;Automate manual processes to reduce time consuming administrative tasks;Integrate complex, redundant processes to avoid the constant recreation of the wheel;Mitigate risks through a single, unified view of the organization.
A successful BPM solution will take existing processes, streamline them to meet business goals and ultimately impact the bottom and top lines in a positive way. The value of BPM is further evidenced by the results that can be realized from business and IT working more closely together. One of the most significant benefits is the fact that BPM helps to put business process control in the hands of business managers. By providing decision makers with up-to-date business information, BPM allows them to make better decisions immediately without relying on IT support.
The Role of Business Process Management in an SOABPM is growing in popularity and is complementary to SOA due to its ability to help make business processes more efficient and effective while enabling an organization to more easily adapt to changing business requirements.
BPM based on SOA is technology’s response to the growing demand for a flexible business environment that is not hindered by application silos.
When business processes are automated and streamlined and supported by a strong SOA governance framework, BPM can deliver on its promise of transforming IT processes to dynamically adapt to business needs. For these reasons, BPM is being widely embraced. In fact, analysts at IDC state that the BPM tools market will reach $3 billion by 2009.
The powerful combination of BPM to streamline business processes within an SOA strategy will help position companies to become industry leaders while ensuring they are poised for continued success.
For this to happen, however, business processes must become independent of specific information resources and specific task automation applications. Specifically, the integration technology must loosely couple the applications and resources that make up the process, otherwise the logic of a process will get hard-coded into a particular technology platform, which may be expensive to change and therefore defeat the entire purpose of BPM.
Business Process Modeling: The ‘Other’ BPMThe need to model business processes before they are deployed in an SOA is becoming increasingly more important, especially as the demand for BPM continues to rise. First, however, let’s understand that BPM is both a management discipline and a technology platform and that modeling is a complementary and critical aspect within a larger BPM strategy.
As a management discipline, BPM replaces traditional views of business based on discrete functional organizations, systems, and metrics with those based on cross-functional core processes aligned with high-level business objectives. As a technology platform, BPM provides the set of software tools needed to optimize performance, make abstract performance goals concrete, connect them to process data, automate and monitor process activities, and provide a platform for agile performance improvement.