Role-based Business Process Management: A Good Way to Think of BPM


Scott Kirkland, Vice President of Product Management at Global 360, explained the company's new role-based view of business process management (BPM) to me back in April, but adding real code to the concept brings the meaning home.


Global 360's Process360 10.0 was made generally available in early July 2009. The role-based concept, which manifests itself in what Global 360 calls "viewPoint applications," comes bundled with Process360 10.0 and existing customers get them as part of their standard upgrade agreements.


I know the BPM buzzword is hot this year but the Global 360 BPM product really is at version 10. Just don't go looking for version 1 under that name. Process 360 is a direct descendant of a product called ViewStar, from a company that started out in 1986. I can't peg the exact timeframe, but ViewStar looks to me to be one of the first companies to use the term "business process automation." Possibly that's because the company was consulting with IDC (see quote in linked 1996 press release), which wouldn't use the term BPM to mean business process management. But that's another blog post.


The product offers a couple of firsts, but as always you need to parse marketing claims. The company says:

"Process360 10.0 is the industry's first BPM suite based on Global 360's Persona-based BPM approach."

Well I would hope so. That's because Persona is the Global 360 marketing term for the role-based concept I like. Research done by Global 360 (which I hope they will share with you during the second half of 2009) identified more than a dozen important roles in BPM implementation and use, and this first instance of Persona addresses six of them.


The company also says Process360 10.0 is the "first to deliver out-of-the-box applications that address the unique needs of all people in a process."


I think the operative word in parsing that claim is "unique," and not "first" or "all." I can't tell one way or the other, but I like the way Global 360 is addressing the data-entry role in particular. It's kind of mundane but good BPM - like almost everything else worth doing - is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration. Other roles supported in 10.0 by viewPoint appliations, what Scott calls "sample applications," include processor, supervisor, manager, developer and administrator. I am pretty sure "all" is not the operative word in the claim because Scott tells me he expects future viewPoint applications to support researchers, reviewers, executives and additional roles and to be available in future Process360 releases.


Sample applications are not "templates." Global 360 offers industry-centric frameworks (the company calls them "solution views") for users that need to focus their BPM capabilities. These are not new in version 10.0 but are enhanced by the role-based concept. This version of the product is also improved by a closer relationship with Microsoft Office System Sharepoint (MOSS), but it also works with more generic Windows Server ASP .NET controls


Global 360's role-based view of BPM and the industry-centricity of its solutions views are a good way of approaching any BPM effort, no matter what BPM product you are considering or end up using. And the "view" in the name pays nice homage to the long-ago beginnings of BPM technology.