What’s this BPM doing in my SOA?

Flournoy Henry
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So you attended a technology conference one year and heard all about Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and how your organization needs to devise an implementation plan now. Then the following year, Business Process Management (BPM) is all the buzz. Do I need both? Where do the lines cross? The fact is that these two topics are not mutually exclusive and each can stand on its own merit. There’s no ‘B’usiness in SOA. Service architecture is much more about how technologists (or your IT department) choose to design, manage, and implement services within the enterprise. Yes, a well defined, well implemented SOA can reap benefits of reduced cost of ownership, rapid development, and stability which of course adds value to the Business; but SOA does not help Business managers understand and improve upon the processes that drive the enterprise. For that, we need BPM. You see, where SOA is about technology, BPM is about discipline, improvement, and value. Sure, you’ll often find some very sophisticated technology in a BPM implementation, but that’s intended to hide the implementation details and shed light on the discipline of process management and improvement. In practice, any major (or even minor) business process is going to rely on data and services within your enterprise. BPM allows us to quickly model these integration points and move on with the business of process enlightenment and improvement. As your process begins to come to life, those integration points will either serve as a road block to delivery, or a no-toll bridge to salvation. BPM does not replace SOA, to the contrary, BPM is even more valuable (and necessary) with a well implemented SOA. You can have well implemented services in your enterprise, but with no discipline to apply the use of those services, you’re no better off. With a disciplined BPM implementation and an SOA delivering well defined and managed integration capabilities, your Enterprise will be full throttle delivering value to your customers and return to your investors.

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