There are a variety of techniques to streamline, automate, and re-engineer business processes in your organization. BPM offers a powerful suite of modeling, optimization, automation, and monitoring tools for your business processes. BPM also is a ripe playground for recognizing reusable services and components. You might be tempted to pursue BPM in isolation – after all, it supports the stateful nature of many organizational processes and offers the ability to modify processes via visual tools. But, pursuing BPM without SOA is a risky proposition. Why do I say that? Several reasons:
- Process orchestrations will often need capabilities that are hosted in legacy systems. If you aren’t careful, several business processes will invoke legacy providers in a tightly coupled fashion. This increases the need for data transformations since you cannot leverage canonical data models.
- As multiple business processes get automated as part of your BPM initiatives, there is increased likelihood that processes contain redundant business rules, data services, and legacy-system specific logic. In short, details that should be encapsulated within a service capability might spill over into process definitions and worse, get duplicated across process definitions.
- As BPM practices get more mature, you will want to rapidly mix and match business services, manipulate enterprise data, and update business rules. BPM initiatives will surely unearth reusable business and technology capabilities. How do you make sure that these capabilities are reusable for the future? SOA provides all these and more and without reusable service capabilities it will be extremely difficult for your business processes to be more nimble.
- BPM aims to increase transparency into business processes and corresponding technology solutions. Consequently, you might discover capabilities that are inadequate for your business goals or have capabilities that need to be sourced elsewhere to reduce costs or take advantage of new technologies. Without SOA making decisions and changing course would be a gargantuan task!
This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list – the point is to recognize that BPM alone isn’t a silver bullet to achieving reuse goals or business objectives without a solid SOA strategy.