Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

I have read a lot of articles recently claiming that BPM & SOA are nothing more then hype. I am here to tell you that if you align these technologies with the proper business case, you can transform your company. I am watching this transformation happen right before my very own eyes. We had an all day future state meeting today and the eighteen people from a cross function of the business were "building the new company from scratch". It was a great moment for me. Just over a year ago, IT sold the business on BPM and SOA. Last week we delivered our first implementation of a BPM/SOA enabled B2B portal. When we did our first round of process reengineering, the company was new to the concepts and skeptical of the investment in the technology. Now, one year later, we have a dedicated architecture team, a dedicated business process department residing in operations, BPM and SOA technology proven in a production environment, and BPM is one of the companies top five initiatives in our four year corporate strategy.

In today's future state sessions, there were eighteen highly motivated and deeply engaged people who believe in the vision and the technology. Our company is transforming from being reactive and heavily labor intensive to proactive and process oriented. We have extremely aggressive growth goals that our existing processes cannot sustain. By using BPM and SOA, we will totally reengineer the way we do business.

At the beginning of the session I explained how SOA will allow us to wipe the slate clean and build our new processes from scratch. I explained in business terms how SOA is the bridge between our brand new business processes and our legacy systems. In our current state findings meeting, there was a lot of concern about "blowing up" all of our systems. In order for us to not constrain our thinking, I thought it was important to start today by explaining that we do not need to touch our legacy systems, instead we simply "connect" them to our business processes with SOA. Below is a slide similar to the one I showed them:

The way I explained it was that in the past we had a separate UI for each one of the systems in the blue circles. Each UI looked different, had redundant data across the applications, and were disconnected from each other. In the new world, there will be one composite UI that is driven by our new business processes and "talks" to the legacy systems through adapters (really web services) while hiding the complexity of all the legacy systems. In other words, they no longer need to care about the order entry system, the accounts payable system, the inventory system, etc. Now they can focus on the process which is designed by the business in the BPM tool and IT can magically connect their processes to our existing systems with a minimal amount of effort (once we built the infrastructure).

Once they understood this, they started building our new company from scratch. It was almost like someone freed their minds and took the handcuffs off. At the end of the day, we had a vision of what our new world might look like and it looks good. No paper, portals, dashboards, workflow, alerts, KPIs, self service, real time data, electronic approvals, etc. That sure beats the sticky notes, emails, phone calls, reams of paper, and rows of filing cabinets. This is all possible because of BPM and SOA. So the next time someone who is afraid to change starts calling the hype card, send him/her this post. Better yet, have them email me. These technologies are the real deal!


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My favorite sayings

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there"

"Before you build a better mouse trap, make sure you have some mice"