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Why NetWeaver matters as a composition platform, part two

Start practicing the BPX role. Have a look at a methodology used in NetWeaver to successfully transition business process requirements into business process models ready to be specified and implemented into composite processes within your domain area.

In part one of this story, I introduced you to the benefits, challenges and opportunities learned from my experiences...

bringing NetWeaver as composition platform to the market.

Now in part two, we'll look at the methodology used to successfully manage business process requirements into business process models that are ready to be specified and implemented into composite processes.

SAP uses a comprehensive methodology (as comprehensive as any Enterprise Architecture Framework or EAF available in the market, like the Zachman Framework or E2AF, but updated to integrate the enterprise SOA elements of services and composition) described in the Enterprise SOA Adoption Program and Roadmap advertised on SDN. Those programs are consulting services that SAP offers to help SAP customers develop their visions and executions for an agile and flexible enterprise using SAP products and technology. That'd be the SAP top-down official approach.

Let me propose here a simpler version that you can take with you in your own domain area and start practicing the BPX role. Maybe you'll become the first BPX in your organization way before your organization would have created that position.

Let's call it the "Enterprise Process Framework". Here it's how it goes:
- Enterprise Process Inventory
- Enterprise Process Definition
- Enterprise Process Design
- Enterprise Process Development
- Enterprise Process Execution and Support

Enterprise Process Inventory

At this point you have to figure out what are the business processes that need to be Enterprise SOA (ES) Ready. Ideally it'd be an IT program sponsored by the CIO or executive-level that would look inside-out (internal best practices) and outside-in (external best practices) to produce a comprehensive inventory. But in absence of such program, you could identify one business process and put together a value proposition or business case to specify, design and implement a prototype for "ES Ready" process. Don't wait for the entire inventory to be completed to get familiar with this new approach and new technologies. The learning curve is steep but the reward is mouth watering.

Recommendation: Focus on processes that will contribute to the following business drivers that SAP uses to identify and qualify the required Enterprise Services (User Productivity, Innovation & Extensibility, Process Efficiency, and Deployment Flexibility).

Hint: A good candidate for "ES Ready" process is usually paper intensive, manual, discontinued, workflow-driven, hardly transparent and visible, cross-functional, cross-departmental. Well, it'd be basically the process that would be a nightmare for IT to software enable because it's so unique to your company and prone to changes that it'd be pretty much suicidal from an ROI standpoint to code. That is true whether you're in a customer or partner organization. If a process is too expensive to code but at the same time important to your business, then you have yourself a good candidate. Processes that are not covered by SAP solutions (see Solution Composer http://www.sap.com/solutions/businessmaps/composer/index.epx) are also good candidates as well as the ones that are related to niche industries, white spaces, optimization (algorithms), compliance and governance (controls).

Enterprise Process Definition

What could be the starting point? You've probably read the different options discussed in the BPX forum. What's the best practice today? If documented, the business processes are most likely to be found in Microsoft Powerpoint or Visio documents than in any of the known solutions like Aris or Mega or Rationale. That doesn't diminish the importance of the process or problem to solve. It's just the state of the market in terms of process documentation. I like the brief and comparative introduction to Aris EPC and BPMN by Stefan Schluchter from SAP (https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/weblogs?blog=/pub/wlg/3974). There're definitely real advantages to use a tool like Aris. For example you can establish an Enterprise Process Repository where you'll have your models documented and stored centrally or make use of the built-in features and controls related to the modeling of a business process.

Recommendation: For the limited budget, Process Definition in Microsoft tools is sufficient. Stick to this condensed recipe of EAF + Aris + BPMN for your process definitions: yellow (Roles) + green (Actions) + purple (Events) + blue (Data Sources). That should help you get started and provide you with a consistent approach to modeling. On top of that you'll be only 2 colors (red for input and output parameters and grey for technical specifications) away from being able to produce a process design. See "Master Data Change Management Process" example below.

For the more generous budget, get a Process Modeling tool and training. For everybody, process flow usually follow the principles of workflow. So workflow knowledge is recommended to BPX. Action can require analytics to support the decision making process. Everytime you can couple process with embedded analytics, you'll increase substantially user experience and productivity.

Hint: UML, Use Cases or Swim lanes are good approach too as long as you come up with a consistent and systemic approach to business process modeling. No technical or implementation specification here. Only business language! Actions start with a verb. Events expressed with past participle. If process is too big, break it down in several user cases or logical functional and autonomous unit of work. In BPM terms, they're called "Phases".

That concludes part two. In part three, I'll complete the Enterprise Process Framework with the Enterprise Process Design, Development, Execution and Support.

There, we'll see how NetWeaver as composition platform or Business Process Platform can help you translate your business process models into executable processes following the principles of Enterprise SOA.


This content is reposted from the SAP Developer Network.
Copyright 2006, SAP Developer Network

SAP Developer Network (SDN) is an active online community where ABAP, Java, .NET, and other cutting-edge technologies converge to form a resource and collaboration channel for SAP developers, consultants, integrators, and business analysts. SDN hosts a technical library, expert blogs, exclusive downloads and code samples, an extensive eLearning catalog, and active, moderated discussion forums. SDN membership is free.

Want to read more from this author? Click here to read Andre Truong's weblog. Click here to read more about the Business Process Expert on SDN.



This was last published in October 2006

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