Earlier this summer, I explored the natural synergy (sorry for using that word) that is taking place between the two disciplines of service-oriented architecture and business process management, as well as looked into the chasm that still may exist between SOA and BPM.
ZDNet blogging colleague Dion Hinchcliffe once again does a thought-provoking job of connecting the dots between enterprise processes and services, citing newly published works by Ismael Ghalimi and Peter Rip.
Ghalimi's post in particular, caught my eye, as he positions BPM as the potential "killer app" that may make all that SOA work worthwhile. Through BPEL and other standards, SOA can lay the ground for mainstream adoption of BPM He identifies SOA as a "a solution in search of a problem," which unfortunately, is true on many levels, beyond the IT process improvement offered through resuability and interoperability of components.
Through Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) and additional standards, SOA can, however, begin to lay the ground for mainstream adoption of BPM, Ghalimi writes. This will draw BPM out of its current silo as a point solution, he explains.
In turn, BPM provides a reason for moving ahead and investing in SOA efforts. "Without BPM, the main ROI for SOA is reduced IT costs," Ghalimi points out. "With BPM, you can directly link the ROI for your SOA project to the ROI you could get from any improved business process."
And where does the rubber hit the road when applying SOA methodologies to BPM? Many services being developed at this point for SOA are too fine-grained to be grasped by the business, Ghalimi says. Instead, fine-grained services need to be tied into coarser-grained services that have an impact on the business. And, shaving three weeks off receiving payments will get noticed far quicker than setting up a currency conversion service, he says. To illustrate the fusion of SOA and BPM, Ghalimi suggests a little experiment:
"Draw a set of boxes on a white board, and give them names of ’services’ that make sense for the particular business you’re in. Then ask a colleague to ‘combine’ them into something useful. I bet you that what you’ll see being drawn on the white board is a set of arrows connecting the boxes, and resembling the flowcharts you used to draw when practicing the principles of the good old Business Process Reengineering methodology. Here you have it: a process!"