ebr's picture

Based on the rumours from last years' SAPPHIRE regarding the upcoming SAP modelling tool "Galaxy" and its integration with ESR as well as the possibility of process execution I joined this year in Berlin two presentations on SAP's new announced BPM product. One presentation "Next-Generation BPM on an Open Business Process Platform" was held by Thomas Volmering, responsible head of product management for SAP BPM and Ralf Heindoerfer, Development Manager SAP NetWeaver Business Process & Event Management at SAP.

The second presentation ("Business Process Management in Action: No Detours from Model to Execution") was held by Alexander Grobe, Innovation Specialist, Customer Service and Business Strategy/Scale at Coca Cola, a first pilot-customer using SAP NetWeaver BPM for the execution of ESR-based marketing & promotion processes.

Thomas Volmering started his presentation with a short history on the BPM Fundamentals. He explained that Business Process-orientation was invented in the 1990's to gain operational efficiency by doing business process re-engineering and through the implementation of ERP systems. As examples he mentioned the reference models for R/3 that were provided by SAP and also through ARIS for R/3 during that phase. Today the goal of BPM is more and more to reach a competitive differentiation and to drive the business network transformation based on new technologies like enterprise SOA. But also from Thomas' point of view the drivers for BPM must be the business need and not the available technologies.

Already during SAPPHIRE 2007 he mentioned that in the future SAP will deliver 2 kind of Business Processes:

  1. Application Core Processes: based on existing SAP core applications and the new enterprise SOA approach as a basis for the future technology of core processes (--> see blog from Henning Kagermann Keynote)
  2. Composite Business Processes: as a basis for the next Generation BPM; also based on ESR technology but supporting very flexible and sometimes smaller or department-oriented business processes that are not available in todays' existing applications and that have to be changed more often and in short-term cycles.

With its new BPM support SAP is now able to offer much more flexible and faster execution of business processes based on process model-based "programming" and capabilities provided by services like those from ESR. The benefits of BPM mentioned by Thomas are

  • a tight integration between the documented workflow and the execution,
  • the integration of process steps that are "external" and not a part of the SAP application,
  • the integration of human tasks but also of system-related process-steps,
  • the flexible integration of short-term and often changing processes,
  • the integration of the line of business department during the definition of the executable process.

SAP's meta model for BPM underlines the execution-oriented approach. The basic elements for the BPMN-based processes are:

  • Events, Data, Rules, Workflows and Tasks, User Interface and Roles.

SAP positions SAP NetWeaver BPM not as the re-building of their existing applications based on BPM technology (i.e. new CRM application). It is not the intention to create again what is already available but it can access available functionalities offered as a service. SAP NetWeaver BPM is a part of SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE) and it consists of

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • the Eclipse-based Process Composer for the modeling of BPM-based execution flows,
  • the Process Desk as a work list manager for incoming work items and
  • the Process Server as execution engine for the workflows.

Furthermore also a YASU-based Rules Management approach will be integrated.

Thomas Volmering and Ralf Heindoerfer showed during a live-presentation the functionalities of the BPM offering. Services can be imported from SAP ESR, a UDDI or other service repositories and graphically orchestrated and later executed based on the Process Server. Today, the target group for the SAP BPM tools are developers with business knowledge or process architects that are focusing on a later execution of the processes and the use of existing services. But for SAP it is important that also the line of business people understand basically the process notation. The recorded session can be watched here. Regarding the release of NetWeaver BPM SAP starts the ramp-up phase this year. In 2009 there will be a release of several update and enhancement packages as well as in 2010. Thomas Volmering announced that during the ramp-up phase there will be a trial version available for download at SDN but a final date is not yet fixed. Those who are interested in future plans and a roadmap from SAP towards BPM will find more information at SDN here. Thomas Volmering also gives a good overview on the positioning of SAP NetWeaver BPM in his BPX blog here

The second presentation from Alexander Grobe from Coca Cola was at Tuesday and he gave a good overview about the current possibilities and use cases of SAP NetWeaver BPM solution. Alexander Grobe started his presentation with an overview of the BPM approach of Coca Cola and the BPM-project SCALE where they are using ARIS for the enterprise-wide modelling of their Business Process Architecture. Grobe stated that by using ARIS for their Enterprise Architecture they could internally reduce the time for a better process understanding and process alignment within the company by a factor of four. ARIS is used within the global program SCALE as an overall project tool and to ensure the BPM governance. He showed a slide with the process architecture and explained that Coca Cola follows a template-based approach named "Coke One" in which about 80% are standardized through corporate and 20% are based on a regional adoption of the process templates. Everything is documented and structured within ARIS. 

Then Mr. Grobe showed a live example how a promotion process that is not available within current SAP system can be engineered and executed by using SAP NetWeaver BPM. He implemented four main process steps using existing services, creating new User Interfaces and orchestrated this altogether to create a new flow from requesting a promotion crew, approving the promotion through the sales manager, detail the approved promotion throught an agency and ending up with a status overview. 

During those presentations I got a very good understanding how ARIS and SAP BPM will work together in the future. And I am sure that the long time partnership between IDS Scheer and SAP will again support the SAP customers to bridge the gap between the business and IT. With the new SAP NetWeaver BPM product SAP is offering a new way to use all the elements of the SAP ESR and to arrange those technical capabilities in a very flexible way by using a model-based environment. This approach helps to go the way from model to execution and enables the IT to orchestrate a process-flow based on a model in a very flexible way. With this step ahead SAP is now able to orchestrate system-to-system-based communication as well as human-based workflow parts by using the underlying technical capabilities of their enterprise SOA. In this use case ARIS offers an additional and complementary Enterprise Architecture Management solution to SAP customers that optimally fits with SAP’s NetWeaver BPM offering. Basically the difference between ARIS and SAP BPM is that ARIS is dealing with company-wide enterprise architecture modeling and company-wide business process analysis while SAP BPM concentrates on process execution of specific process elements within a company-area. That's why both tools are working in a complementary manner towards Business Process Management.

As Coca Cola demonstrated very well ARIS can be used to setup a company-wide BPM and enterprise architecture approach that aims to align the companies main assets like people and organization, IT Systems and standardized information, business processes and workflows, production capacities and materials with the companies strategy. To realize this ARIS is using several standardized methodologies to describe all those strategic important elements of a company. ARIS includes methods to describe and to analyze the organizational structure of a company like organization charts, role diagrams etc. Furthermore ARIS offers methods to describe and to analyze the IT landscape of a company (system landscape map etc.) and the data structure (Entity-Relationship models, UML models etc.). ARIS also offers different diagrams and methods to describe the business processes and the workflows that bring together all the other elements like people, data and information, IT systems to add value to the customer. Those diagrams are supporting a company in setting up an enterprise-wide process architecture that can be easily described and understood by the line of business departments. But within ARIS companies are not only doing the description and modeling of their important company information but they also do the analysis and dynamic simulation (like dynamic resource utilization, bottleneck analysis, organizational breaks, process-cost analysis and activity-based costing etc.)

Within the last years the ARIS method and the underlying integrated repository was enhanced to transfer those business-level models into more technical-oriented and executable process models like BPMN models, BPEL models, UML activity diagrams etc. Because ARIS did not offered an execution engine for technical processes the main focus of ARIS was always to support the line of business people in describing, communicating and optimizing their business processes and to hand it over to an execution engine.

With ARIS and SAP NetWeaver BPM also this logical next step is becoming now reality. All elements of the ARIS repository and the process knowledge from the line of business departments can be exchanged in the future to SAP NetWeaver BPM by using BPMN 2.0 standard notation. SAP is driving the current development of BPMN 2.0 to be more open and flexible in the future. Within SAP NetWeaver BPM those process models can be assigned with ESR content and executed. ARIS will be a good complementary tool for the work with SAP NetWeaver BPM because ARIS brings together all the knowledge of the business from a business-point of view and gives the best support for standardizing, analyzing and optimizing a companies efficiency. With ARIS one will be able to come from Business-to-model while SAP NetWeaver BPM comes from Model-to-execution.

Thinking towards the future I believe that at the end the customer gets a full offering from enterprise architecture and process analysis over service engineering and architecture management to service consumption and process execution based on SAP enterprise services (ESR).

On the IDS Scheer website you find more information on BPM and SAP: www.aris.com/sap