The convergence of SOA and BPM is now one of the most talked about subjects in the industry but also one of the most confusing. In this post, I am trying to eliminate some areas of confusion based on my experience, discussions with peers and reading as well.
When we talk about IT integration, we can’t talk about ERP or Legacy systems integration without considering how that integration plays along with the needs of the business analysts (BAs) and lines of businesses (LOBs) who eventually use those services or data for their business processes to conduct their work. These two elements, which are often contradictory, need to work together as part of a fully integrated solution for the organization. When SOA and BPM interact well together, we create a synergy where we can now see enormous benefits. The processes are implemented in an organized and optimized way that IT and the LOBs can successfully manage them, and there will also be a real alignment between the various roles of both camps.
Once a business process model is implemented and automated through an SOA enabled environment, realtime optimization can be provided when the runtime feedback is given back to the BAs as part of business activities monitoring (BAM) reports integrated within the architecture. This will allow the actual users to see and provide enhancement and improvement proposals where the needs really is. Once the improvements are identified, the BAs will then review the process model and re-engineer it to suit the improvement, update both the models and the business that goes with it and the development cycle will begin anew. The real value of business transformation and optimization are realized via this iterative process re-engineering cycle.
To gain the value of these types of benefits SOA and BPM needs to be integrated in such way that multiple users in the enterprise will share common tools to share data, metadata, reports, share governance and management information in their area of expertise, and ultimately optimize the inter-operability between the processes themselves and how those processes are translated to the back-end integration. Those processes can be shared into a central repository and the respective meta data can be shared among architects, developers and operations. For a given process, the entry point for the back-end process can be defined by the architects, the transformation maps will be built by the developers, and finally the operations will describe and specify the SLA policy.
When BPM is working hand in hand with SOA, then the real power and value of Enterprise Integration will transform from words to actions, and organizations will get from this point enormous benefits.