BPM 2.0 Process Without Programming

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Bruce Silver calls the second generation of BPM software "BPM 2.0" and defines it as software that automates, integrates, monitors and optimizes end-to-end business processes. It is being driven by the goals of agility, flexibility and process visibility, along with the earlier drivers of cost reduction, productivity, cycle time improvement, and process automation. These processes are executable process models in IBM WebSphere Business Integration 4.2, BEA WebLogic 8.1, Vitria BusinessWare 4, Intalio n3 2.0, and FileNet BPM Suite. Overall, the second generation of Business Process Management is based on a new set of IT objectives, business values, and underlying technology infrastructure.

Dr. Silver writes the monthly Business Rules column for Transform magazine, and is the author of the Guide to Workflow Software published by Giga Information Group, as well as numerous technology guides published by techinfocenter.com. He is the founder of Bruce Silver Associates, specializes in business process management and content management technology, including workflow and imaging software.

BPM combines EAI, workflow, and B2Bi in a unified modeling and runtime environment. It describes, analyzes and executes end-to-end business processes including workflow, transactions and exceptions. BPM also promises a unified framework for integrating all external systems and processes, regardless of where they are, what platforms they run on, the communications link, the programming language, or the object model. By monitoring processes and business metrics, real-time alerts and actions can be generated for management through executive dashboards.

With second generation BPM, the modeling does not require skilled programmers. It promises to bridge the IT/business divide by having tools accessible to business analysts and integration specialists. It implies a graphical, point-click design throughout. BPM 2.0 also implies a service-oriented architecture and a unified end-to-end modeling environment.

Silver said that EAI addresses integration but without the concept of process, while workflow addresses process without the concept of integration. BPM addresses both, and hides complex integration details behind simple service requests and responses. The workflow model is easy to diagram, but very difficult to create in the workplace. BPM 2.0 promises much faster deployment because much of it can be done without writing code.

There are eight steps in BPM 2.0.

  • Integrated visual design environment
  • Choreographing of services
  • Ability to select connectors
  • Introspect resource via connector
  • Ability to define data transformations
  • Blind process action to message
  • Ability to define human interaction (workflow)
  • Reuse of components

In an integrated visual design environment, the graphical interface shows everything. To choreograph the services, the tools create the connectors and define the schemas. The connectors are adapters that can take the selected data and transform it through the applications and technologies. The connectors are bound to the chosen steps that are bound by the chosen schema. Silver described it as a "cook book" methodology. The data transformations are defined and bound to the process actions. The components can reuse process logic with different resources and communications. The human interaction (workflow) is defined using role-based work assignments where instructions, privileges, deadlines, and tasks are specified. Silver walked through a sample process using the software, showing that most of the operations are point and click in the different environments using IBM WebSphere Business Integration 4.2, BEA WebLogic, Vitria BusinessWare 4, . Intalio, and FileNet Business Process Manager.

The second generation of BPM is here, but not all the vendors are on board. It is service-oriented, but not necessarily for web services, although that will probably be ready soon. In the early days of BPM, efficiency was sought by automating isolated business functions. The goal of the second generation is to interconnect the many islands of processes automated earlier. E-business requires end-to-end integration of processes across functional boundaries, including customers, suppliers and partners of the extended enterprise. Mr. Silver has an expanded discussion of these issues available at his web site, www.brsilver.com.


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