Click here to close now.


Recurring Revenue Authors: John Grimm, JP Morgenthal, Tim Hinds, Ian Khan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Industrial IoT, IoT User Interface, Recurring Revenue

Microservices Expo: 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

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...