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Business Process Management (KM-BPM)

by Andreas Metzger last modified Apr 29, 2012 14:30
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WP-JRA-2.1: Business Process Management

Business Process Management (BPM) has recently emerged as both a management principle and a suite of software technologies focusing on management of the lifecycle of a business process ranging from business goals reflected in the definition of business processes, to the deployment, execution, measurement, analysis, change, and redeployment of these business processes. A prime constituent of BPM entails a business process that is defined as a process used to achieve a well-defined business outcome and is completed according to a set of procedures. A business process may span organizations and may typically involve both people and systems.

A workflow is a technology for realizing of inter- and intra-enterprise (business) process. Workflow constructs make it possible to implement business process aspects like logical decision points, sequential as wells as parallel work routs, as well as managing of exceptional situations.

Business processes are governed and constrained by business rules that define the business terms and facts (structural assertions) as well as the constraints underlying the business behavior (action assertions). Business rules represent core business policies. Business policies capture the nature of an enterprise’s business model and define the conditions that must be met in order to move to the next stage of the process.

A value chain is the largest possible business process in an organization. The value chain is decomposed into a set of core business processes and support processes necessary to produce a service, product or product line. These core business processes are subdivided into activities. The near real-time monitoring of business activities, the measurement of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), their presentation in dashboards, and the automatic and proactive notification in case of deviations constitutes the notion of Business Activity Monitoring (BAM).

In environments involving business collaborations, business processes are increasingly complex and integrated both within internal corporate business functions and across the external supply chain. In such environments there is a clear need for advanced business applications to coordinate multiple services into a multi-step business transaction. This requires that several web service operations or processes attain transactional properties reflecting business semantics, which are to be treated as a single logical (atomic) unit of work that can be performed as part of a business transaction.

Business processes and business transactions communicate by employing business protocols. A business protocol specifies the possible message exchange sequences (conversations) that are supported by the service to achieve a business goal. Business protocols are not executable, but protocols can be specified using BPEL (or any of the many other formalisms developed for this purpose) defining in a reusable manner the way to process the workflow specific data.

Business Process Management Software Suites (BPMS) provide an integrated set of tools to model, design, simulate and deploy business processes and process- or transaction based applications, delivering greater degrees of process management delivery, include the following building blocks:

  1. Business Process Modeling: Process models are needed to help business managers and analysts understand actual processes and enable them, by visualization and simulation, to propose improvements. In particular, business process modeling relates to design methodologies (Engineering and Design).

  2. Business Process Integration (BPI): Connecting the process elements so that they can seamlessly exchange information to achieve business goals. For applications this means using APIs and messaging. For people this means creating a workspace on the desktop or fulfilling their part of the process. Business process integration relates to service and process segments synthesized from distributed geographic locations as described in Service Composition.

  3. Business Process Execution: Once the design and modeling exercise is accomplished, the process is deployed and executed within a BPM execution engine. The BPM execution engine executes process instances by delegating work to humans and automated applications as specified in the process model. The execution environment employs composition languages such as BPEL and relies on an appropriate Service Infrastructure.

  4. Business Process Analysis, Monitoring and Auditing: This involves providing graphical administrative tools that illustrate processes that are in progress, processes that are completed, and integrate business metrics and key performance indicators with process descriptions. Audit trails and process history/reporting information is automatically maintained and available for further use. Business process activities are logged and monitored as described in Adaptation and Monitoring.

  5. Business Process Measurement: Managing processes first requires aggregating process data in business-oriented metrics such as key performance indicators and balanced scorecards. If the process is “out of bounds” or SLAs are not being met, the next step is to recalibrate it by reconfiguring resources or modifying business rules – dynamically and “on the fly.” Business process activities are measured according to KPI as described in Adaptation and Monitoring and Quality Definition, Negotiation and Assurance.

  6. Business Process Optimization: Optimization means process improvement, which should be an ongoing activity. This item involves optimizing process flows of all sizes, crossing any application, company boundary and connects process design and process maintenance.

The next-generation of service-enabled BPM will serve as a means of developing mission-critical applications based on strategic technology capable of creating and executing cross-enterprise collaborative business processes and business-aware transactions, so that organizations can deploy, monitor, and continuously update cross-enterprise functions within a mixed environment of people, content, and systems. Such collaborative, complex end-to-end service interactions give raise to the concept of Agile Service Networks (ASNs).


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