I recall not long ago -oh wait, two years ago (June 2009) -? poking fun at SAP's BPM strategy:

Your last point about the definition of BPM reminds me of a press release SAP did about 2 years ago about BPM... which, if you read their definition, was merely EAI (integration services), and a "totally new groundbreaking category of software" that they called Collaborative Application Frameworks (CAF)... which would be available in ... you guessed it... 2 years... and if you read the definition slowly, you realize that CAF was describing a BPMS. Curiously, I haven't seen a press release about CAF being released into the wild. And their attempt to rebrand EAI as BPM hasn't taken with the market...

Well.? Based on Bruce's blog, it looks like 2 years after my comment, and 4 years after SAP's strategic statement on BPM and CAF, SAP has finally delivered something that approximates what some people would call BPM:

Yesterday I got a look at SAP?s BPM v7.3, now in ?ramp-up? (extended beta).? I hadn?t heard much lately about SAP in the BPM area, so I was really surprised to see how far they have come.? The new offering, called the ?Process Orchestration Solution?, combines NetWeaver BPM, focused on human tasks, and NetWeaver Process Integration, which provides SOA, ESB, adapters, and Enterprise Service Repository (ESR).

Sorry, I should have said that they've delivered it into Beta, not GA.? Bruce's review is positive, and, I think, reflects his low expectations going into the review.? Based on his review, SAP may finally be getting their BPM act together, and if the other vendors in the space sit still or get comfortable, they'll get lapped in capability in some areas.

However, SAP is still focused on BPM as a way to add value to their existing application suites, rather than a standalone technology/application offering.? It should be something they can sell into their install base of SAP customers (which is quite large), but I doubt it would get traction out side of that audience as some of the differentiating features are SAP-ERP specific.

Even if I were an SAP customer, I'd still be tempted to use a third-party BPMS because there are processes that simply don't touch SAP, and if you just want one BPMS, it seems to give you more flexibility.? But for tactical SAP-focused process improvement, or simply as a cheaper way to customize SAP to your needs, this could be a big time saver.

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