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Key Features of Business Process Management

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Published: Tue, 02 Jan 2018

Key Features Of Business Process Management Suite: BPMS Vendors And Core Functions Reviewed.

Introduction

Organisations seek to improve their business process by making them more efficient, real time, automation and agile. The business demand was met with a suite of technologies, ranging from groupware and office automation, to workflow and more currently, BPM technologies (Bandara,Wasana and Indulska ).

Finding a vendor and which tool to use that can be very daunting exercises. One the other hand, vendors introduced innovative ways to meet their customers’ demands.

Gartner (Feb 2009) predicts that through 2012, managers and consultants will develop process – centric methods and disciplines analogous to those used in territorial and function organization.

This paper will review features are included in the BPMS suite. Discuss few vendors that are in the Gartner Major Quadrant, functions of BPMN, BPEL which are languages or execution standards that support a BPMS tool.

Description Of Business Process Management Suite (BPMS)

A BPMS is an integrated collection of software that enables the control and management discipline of business process (Gartner 2009). BPM enable-technologies have existed for so many years as point products supporting explicit control of particular aspect of a process, such as human workflow, document and image routing, system – system interaction patterns (Garter 2009).

The appearance of integrated BPM- enable technology is part of disaggregation of application software and is an example of the trend toward building software systems from small “chunks.” BPM-enabling technologies are available as separate specialty tools, integrated BPMSs, and are being adder to some major application packages (Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006)

For some vendors it is a lucrative profitable business. Gartner research shows that the BPMS market will have a compound annual growth of more than 24 % from 2006 – 2011 (Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006)

Business Process Management Suite Architecture

BPMS has been divided into four layers; Middleware/Application, Engines, Utilities and Knowledge (Paul Harmon). There are no standards set on what should be included in the business process management suite. Some companies look for tools that are workflow – centric, application integration or decision centric (Bptrends).

BPMS products need to be able to manage the access of other application. Few BPMS products can handle this function; they have to rely on existing middleware and application server products to provide support (Paul Harmon).

Rules Engine

The heart of the BPMS product consists of the engine that manages the runtime execution of the business process instance (Paul Harmon).

Rules Engine execute rules that abstract business policies and decision tables from the underlying applications, and make available more – flexi process changes (Gartner 2009). When a decision point is reached, the rule engine will determine which business rule apply and then execute them to determine the appropriate decision (Paul Harmon). If customer applies for a loan, business rule will determine if the loan is granted or not, based on the customer’s credit history. Business rules are managed by tools called Business Rule Management.

Workflow Engine

Workflow is one of capabilities delivered with BMPS. Some important parts of the workflow are poorly understood. The BPMS helps reviles better workflows by making their process execution visible and audited (Garter 2009). Workflow management improved things not only by managing the flow of work, but also digitising the information, thereby making the process as automated and paperless as possible (Ryan K.L. Ko,Stephen S.G. Lee,Eng Wah Lee)

EAI Engine

Enterprise application integration (EAI) tool was developed to interface between systems. Paul Harmon in his book says that, “EAI engine manages the calling and coordination of the software application required for the execution of a process “(Bptrends)

Modelling tools

Popular process modelling tools that are supported by BPMS is UML and BPMN. BPMN defines a Business Process Diagram (BPD), which is based on a flowcharting technique tailored for creating graphical models of business process operation. BPMN was first released in May 2004 by Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI.org), the graphical, flowchart-based BPMN is a recent BP modelling language that is already gaining wide acceptance (Koskela and Haajanen, 2007).

1. Execution standards

Execution standards enable business designs to be deployed in BPMS and their instances executed by the BPMS engine.

1.1 BPEL

The Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) is the short name for BPEL4WS (Paul Harmon). BPEL is the currently the most popular and influential execution standard in the market. It is used together with Web Service Definition Language (WSDL) and other related technologies. This means that BPEL is used to define how the business process is built from invocations of existing web services and the kind of interaction of the process with external participants (Ryan K.L. Ko). BPEL is more widely adopted in several prominent software suites (e.g. IBM Websphere, BeA AquaLogic BPM Suite, SAP Netweaver, etc.) (Ryan K.L. Ko,Stephen S.G. Lee,Eng Wah Lee)

Strengths of BPEL (Ryan K.L. Ko,Stephen S.G. Lee,Eng Wah Lee)

1. focuses on process that low level programming constraints

2. It subscribes to the web services paradigm

3. It’s popular – most vendors are using it.

Weaknesses

1. Complex syntax and very difficult to implement – it’s XML representation is difficult and readable to the trained eye

2. Does not example human involvement in business process well – Workflow management systems have always able to model human participation in business process (Ryan K.L. Ko,Stephen S.G. Lee,Eng Wah Lee)

1.2 BPML

The Business Process Modelling language is an eXtensible Markup Language (XML) process definition language that describes the structural representation of a process and the semantics of it’s execution ( Have,2005). BPML was designed for business processes to be executed in contemporary web service – based BPMS (e.g. Intalio BPM) (Ryan K.L. Ko,Stephen S.G. Lee,Eng Wah Lee)

Strengths of BPML

1. Zero code programming – programmers don’t need to dwell on coding but defining business process.

2. Encourages usability and scalability

Weaknesses

1. BPML has it’s limitation ( Shapiro, 2002, Smith, 2004,Koskela and Haajanen, 2007)

Garner’s Magic Quadrant for Business process management Suite (Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006)

Gartner ‘s 2009 Magic Quadrant depicts the relative strength of the top 22 vendors offering multiregional, cross – industry business management suits (BPMSs) . Magic Quadrant is one of the several tools that clients can use to evaluate BPMS market. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for BPMS has been recognised by vendors that they reference to it in their websites.

Leaders – offers products and services that best enable all of the use cases and have customer references for each.

Niche players – focus on a specific area, where they have very good functionality to offer, but they do not have a comprehensive BPMS Suite

Visionaries – develop new and comprehensive concepts regarding architecture and functionality

Challengers- companies in that have undergone major changes in their organisations and products that they offer.

For the vendors to qualify to be placed in the leaders section of the quadrant have to meet all the required characteristics of the BPMS.

Characteristics of BPMS (Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006)

Following are functions that are delivered in the BPMS. BPMS tools must have all these functionality in order to meet the changing marker and user needs. Gartner suggest that in order for the vendor to be a leader in the marker, all these capabilities must be met.

  • “Support the modelling and analysis of business processes, including all aspects of workflow: tasks,roles,decisions,approvals,reviews,escalations,collaborations,flows,rules,policies,forms and other documents, events, goals, objectives and scenarios. BPMS is not only an automate tool but support documents and ( check the source )
  • Support process change in the design and the execution of transactions, with auditing. ( support this statement)
  • Coordinate any type of interaction pattern among users, system task and information resource, regardless the location of these resources. Interaction patterns include human to human, system to system, human to system, human to content and content interdependencies.
  • Enable participants to manipulate and manage structured and unstructured information within the process, not just as referenced attachments to their tasks.
  • Support the definition, manipulation and management of business rules by business and IT users.
  • Support user and group collaboration on work items in the process (in real time and offline).
  • Support the monitoring, reporting, analysis and notification of activities and events affect work, using data about completed and in progress transactions (in the real time and offline).
  • Support process simulation and optimisation of desired business outcomes by using real-time, historical and estimated data.
  • Interoperate with external software assets, especially SOA web services, and include these in the end to end business orchestration.
  • Enable management of all process artefacts (models, process definitions, rule definitions, service definitions. Executables and more) throughout the entire process life cycle
  • Include packaged business content, such as sample process models, rule sets; prebuilt user interfaces (UIs) and composite process frameworks”.

BPMS vendors

Only selected vendors from the Gartner Magic Quadrant that are reviewed below:-

Intalio Enterprise And Community Edition BPMS

Intalio community edition is the first that offers an open source reliable BPMS. This packaged is scaled for small companies. Intalio is lacking distribution channel and efficient marketing. (Janelle B. Hill , Nikos Drakos)

Strengths

  • In this unstable harsh economic climate, open source is gaining more attention. Intalio has a unique business model that uses open-source content, licensing and community marketing.
  • The intelligence use of using open source business model, combined with adoption of industry standards, has resulted in more that 500, 00 companies downloading Intalio BPMS community Edition (open -source code). Intalio has more that 500 customers’ in 50 countries; six of these companies are located in South Africa. ( www.intalio.com)

Caution

  • Advanced features for business rules engine, BAM (Business Activity Monitoring) and ECM (Enterprise Content Management) are only available in the commercial Enterprise Edition.
  • Companies that start using Intalio Community Edition should be prepared to send their employees on training as Intalio is not offering consulting services.

IBM BPMS (Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006)

According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, IBM is a leader in the BPMS. It meets most of the required capabilities to make it a leader. IBM suite contains a comprehensive set of role based capabilities that enable customers to model, simulate, run, rapidly change, monitor and optimise core business processes.

IBM BPMS tools reviewed in this paper are: Business Leader widget which is available through IBM BPM Blueworks, WebSphere Business Modeller and Business monitor.

Business Leader widgets: WebSphere business publishing server

  • Enable users to share process models and BPM assets through a Web browser.
  • Enable users to publish an array of BPM assets including process models, WebSphere Business Monitor dashboard designs, and user interface forms.

WebSphere Business Modeller

  • Business Analyst can document , test and share business process
  • Simulate process runs and identified inefficiency and bottlenecks
  • Define key performance indicators and business metrics for in the WebSphere Business Monitoring

WebSphere Business Modeller can generate IT implementation artifacts for WebSphere Process Server and facilitate human centric- process in a server environment.

WebSphere Business Monitor

WebSphere Business Monitor is an integrated business activity monitoring (BAM) environment that provides end – to – end visibility of business activity on WebSphere Process Server, WebSphere MQ Workflow, FileNet® Business Process Manager, and other enterprise application.

· WebSphere Business Monitor development toolkit provides templates and a test environment to further accelerate time to value

· Fully configurable dashboards that shows you what you only need to see

· Deliver alerts to email, pagers or PDAs

Strengths

  • IBM has marshalled all its resources – including Global services, university, IBM staff and families, outreach industry and it’s partner ecosystem to accelerate user adoption of BPM as a management discipline. SOA companies has benefited it’s BPMS by showing how SOA and BPM work better together
  • Has a vision for exposing process artifacts and data more directly to business professionals

Caution

  • IBM has multiple of BMPS products, it fulfils its BPM strategy through federated interoperability across two basic offerings augmented by extended offerings.
  • Broader software division’s acquisition strategy will continue to augment IBM’s BPMS vision and product road map.
  • Customers are cautioned to monitor the integration of new technologies
  • Individual products in the suite have strong and rich functionality. And in combination, the permutations of configuration possibilities are overwhelming.
  • Customers usually require help from a service provider.
  • WebSphere dynamic Business Process has few references.

Lombardi BPMS

Lombardi’s BPMS, called Teamworks , is best known for human – centric process that change dynamically based on business factors such as dispute resolution, product returns, tax reconciliation, loan origination, or supply chain management. Lombardi describes Teamworks as focused on “operational processes,” meaning complex flows spanning organisation and system boundaries.

Lombardi has customers in almost all sector; Financial Services, Government, HealthCare, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Retail, Telecommunications and companies like Ford Motors. It’s evident why Lombardi is on the top leaders in Gartner’s magic quadrant. It’s not surprising why companies like IBM have shown interest in it. (http://www.lombardisoftware.com/bpm-software-customers.php)

Lombardi BPMS Tools

These are the following tools that Lombardi is offering:-

  • Lombardi Teamworks 7 Enterprise – offers a complete Business Process Management Suite supporting modelling and simulation analysis, human workflow, integration, business rules and performance management.
  • Lombardi Blueprint: Is a hosted web- based environment that provides an extremely business friendly front end to BPMN modelling and supports team collaboration. Means that Blueprint is a cloud- based process discovery and documentation platform that can be accessed from any browser. Blueprint models can be exported to Teamworks for implementation.
  • Lombardi Services – Included the entire range of BPM enablement services covering core competencies; Process analysis, process implementation, process optimisation, reporting and performance management, architecture and infrastructure and program leadership and governance. ( Bruce Silver Associates)

Strengths

  • Lombardi has keen insights into the functions required by each individual user role that is involved in business process life cycle.
  • User friendly modelling tool, making business analysts life easier.
  • Continuous process improvement programs where empowering business users or business analysts is key.
  • Customer references are among the most advanced in BPM maturity.
  • Blueprint which is a cloud based, appeals to business managers and strategic planners who seek for high process diagramming and knowledge capture. (Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006)

Caution

  • Customers with smaller deals will find it challenging to command Lombardi’s attention. And its case management is not strong as its competitors. (Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006)

Metastorm BPM vs 7.6 (Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006)

The Metastorm BPM suite provides an open standards – based framework for integration, enabling organization to easily integrate external applications and data with Metastorm BPM processes (Metastorm).

Strengths

  • In 2008 customer experience was excellent.
  • Enable Metastorm BPM processes to access SAP functionality and data during the development and execution of business processes
  • Strong heritage in providing BPM software based on Microsoft technologies
  • Product easy to use, even for non technical users.

Caution

  • Some users have reported support problems outside the U.S. Metastorm has developed a global presence through regional resellers to sell its BPMS and targeted solutions.
  • Customers should understand the scope of the solutions they buy from a reseller and the path to further licensing options to ensure expectations are met.
  • Some customers report difficulties in negotiating pricing and contracts. It may take longer than anticipated to determine the appropriate licensing configuration

Conclusion

It’s been almost a decade since BPMS tools entered the market. Business Process Management (BPM) is the most talked about subject. Yet I have found that information about the tool that support BPM, which is BPMS is not easy to find. Or there is not much information available. I can only imagine how difficult it is for companies to decide what tool best fits their needs. Companies will have to purchase papers from companies like Gartner and Forester.

Evidently BPMS is still new in the market. Their standard has not reached maturity. As much as BPEL and BPML are popular standards, their limitation and drawback have major impact in the BPMS.

For companies looking to implement BPMS tools in the companies can be very difficult. Companies go to big vendors that can support globally and have customer’s references. Word of mouth is a big deal. With the help of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, companies can save time to search for suitable products that can meet their needs. For companies who seek to explore the BPMS tools, or student who want to know what is about. Open -source vendors like Intalio and others who can offer their products for free.

It’s very interesting to see how this marking is growing. Vendors like IBM purchasing smaller vendors, but who are excelling to the BPMS field in order to improve their products. University of Cape Town ICTS department is planning to implement Enterprise Content Management (ECM). It’s going to be an interesting observation to see how they will choose the vendor. Will the UCT look within the companies that they have been dealing with like Microsoft SharePoint. Or they will look for a new vendor, how they will base their findings.

References

(Harmon, www.bptrends.com) ;

Janelle B. Hill, Jim Sinur, David Flint, Michael James Melenovsky, 2006. Gartner’s Position on Business Process Management, 1-26

Bandara, Wasana and Indulska, Marta and Chong, Sandy and Sadiq, Shazia (2007)

Major Issues in Business Process Management: An Expert Perspective. In

Proceedings ECIS 2007 – The 15th European Conference on Information Systems,

pages pp. 1240-1251, St Gallen, Switzerland.

Ryan K.L. Ko,Stephen S.G. Lee,Eng Wah Lee. Business process management (BPM) standards: a survey, 1-47. Available: www.emeraldinsight.com/1463-7154.htm


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