New Tools Support BPM for More Complete Integration Solutions

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

Seven Deadly Sins of Business Process Management (BPM)

Organizations must be aware of the possible downfalls of implementing a BPM campaign with inadequate focus on end-user adoption.

The time is right for BPM because BPM speaks to the key interests of modern executives, argues Steve Hamby, the CTO of Orbis Technologies, Inc.


Cutting costs, aligning IT with business needs and increasing productivity and operational efficiencies - these are all issues BPM can support, Hamby writes in a recent Huffington Post piece. It's a glowing editorial on the wonders of BPM, but Orbis is not a BPM vendor. Orbis specializes in text analytics and semantic solutions.


Hamby's not alone in seeing BPM as a key business enabler. He quotes IBM's CIO Survey of 2011, in which 99 percent of the CIOs with a mandate to transform their business said they are "looking into BPM to provide better internal collaborative processes to assist in that transformation."


One way BPM can do this is by enabling integration of business processes. Sandy Kemsley, a BPM expert, says BPM can essentially act as middleware, pulling data from one system and pushing it to another. It's a capability that, for instance, you might use to automate a business process that previously involved someone retyping data.


The problem for BPM - and many other enterprise solutions - is that BPM evolved out of its own technology heritage. Forrester sees process integration as one of three integration silos, along with application integration and data integration. All of these solutions worked to create better integration and yet, ironically, they existed in separate silos. As Forrester's Ken Vollmer points out in this ebizQ interview, this makes it difficult to support end-to-end processes that involve all three.


Recently, Forrester's research found more enterprise integration platforms and tools are embedding BPM features. Vollmer told ebizQ's SOA expert, Joe McKendrick:

this situation (integration silos) is beginning to change with the arrival of more comprehensive integration tools that address the full range of integration needs. Now companies can consider all their integration requirements - application, business to business, process and data - to develop a holistic strategy that addresses them all with a minimum of technology overlap. We expect this trend to continue strongly over the next three years. In response, integration vendors are taking a more holistic approach as well.

In other words, vendors are finally integrating across the integration silos, which makes it even easier to support the improvement of processes, integration with internal applications, and integration with external partners and internal ERP apps.


This is great news for IT and business, because it will simplify integration, and that means it'll be even easier to support what Hamby sees as a key strategic deployment of BPM: Allowing business users to design their own processes without sacrificing the governance and security enterprise IT brings to the table.


"A successful implementation of BPM does not restrict empowered, technically savvy business users," Hamby writes. "Rather, BPM promotes a collaborative environment that can rapidly automate processes, where business users design processes while IT facilitates the infrastructure required to deploy the processes, provides the necessary integration points to reuse existing systems and services, and ensures compatibility with enterprise architecture standards and IT governance."


Vollmer identifies three types of BPM tools that provide different degrees of support for enterprise integration. Taken as a whole, they may be effective, but for holistic integration, companies will need to focus on strategy, not tools, he warned.


Forrester sees holistic integration as cutting across integration's own silos to create a comprehensive, end-to-end enterprise integration plan. To achieve that, Vollmer says companies should create a common planning process that oversees integration, develop an enterprise integration strategy and implement integration through an enterprise-wide Integration Competency Center.

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