1.4 The essence of the BPM discipline -- what you model is what you execute
By combining all ideas mentioned so far, a process-centric enterprise can be represented in more detail as illustrated in figure 1.4. Processes are used everywhere: in the execution to drive the work, in the decision making to identify improvements and in the implementation to realise these improvements.
What is the major barrier to enterprise optimisation in this figure? It is that different parts of the enterprise business system use different descriptions of the same process. Usually, these descriptions are constructed separately by different people and do not exchange the necessary information, and some of them may not even exist explicitly in a particular enterprise.
The use of software-intensive systems to automate the operations part of process-centric enterprise business systems allows the elimination of this barrier by creating a single formal description of the business processes. This description should be explicitly and formally defined to be good as both a simulation model and an executable program.
Such a description is the main concern of the BPM discipline, which allows you to model, automate, execute, control, measure and optimise the flow of business activities that span the enterprise's systems, employees, customers and partners within and beyond the enterprise boundaries.
Different functions of the BPM discipline are spread throughout the enterprise business system as shown in figure 1.5.
All these functions use a formal description of business processes. At the moment of writing of this book, within the BPM industry there is no appropriate system of standard formats for the formal description of business processes. The three most popular formats (BPMN, BPEL and XPDL) were created by different groups and for different purposes:
- BPMN -- Business Process Modeling Notation, was created by the OMG (www.omg.org) to provide a graphic representation of models of business processes ;
- BPEL -- Business Process Execution Language, was created by OASIS (www.open-oasis.org) to provide a formal execution of the interaction between web services ;
- XPDL -- XML Process Description Language, was created by WfMC (www.wfmc.org) to provide the exchange of models of business processes between various BPM tools .
Ideally, there should be a single master format which can be transformed into different formats suitable for different needs. [This is similar to the case of electronic documents which may be available at the same time in XML, PDF and PostScript but, in the majority of cases, only the master format (i.e. XML) is truly editable.]
... to be continued in fragment 05 ...