Thursday, 29 January 2009

BPM high-wire act

Intalio appears to be eating its own dogfood very publicly, and on a highwire.
I wish Ismael and his team well with this venture as it will demonstrate that armies of strange developer types are not the key to success in getting value from a business process-centric view of solution delivery.

They are working with real business processes and have very quickly demonstrated two completely different approaches to BPM solutions with the same product.
  • A Customer Support Process is presented in the early stages of BPMN expression (Level 2??) and is full of clearly recognisable business steps (like 'assign to support team..').
  • The Marketting Process allows the process instance to be configured from a basic template at runtime rather than design time and the BPMN diagram is far more abstract. Perhaps there are some real developers around after all!

The template approach allows the business process to be finalised for each instance in a configuration table and should lead to a stable technical implementation without analysing the business process to death. In doing this, some of the benefits of BPM may be lost. If you look at an instance of the Marketting process through a reporting tool you will see that you are at Step N within a loop of Steps but with no real sense of flow. In contrast, looking at a customer support process instance will show where you are, and how you got there. Without wishing to fan the flames of the executable BPMN v BPEL debate, tailoring the pattern at the BPMN level and executing the result, retains the business-level communication of process requirement throughout the lifecycle.

I look forward to seeing the final implementation.


Antoine said...

We're making rapid progress. Expect more news soon. Thanks for your interest!

Ghalimi said...


Actually, for the Marketing Process, we will use the spreadsheet as monitoring tool. A Web Service will be created and will allow dynamic updates to be made to the spreadsheet in order to display relevant process monitoring information. More on this on the IT|Redux blog soon.

Best regards

David French said...

That is a great pattern to follow, Ismael. It fits with the common practice of using a shared spreadsheet, manually maintained, to record departmental activities and should get ready acceptance. Certainly not an IT developer style of solution.