13 Mar 2012

What Comes First — SOA Or BPM?

Like the famous “chicken or the egg” question, many in business wonder what drives what when it comes to business integration and optimisation. Read how sorting out which comes first — SOA or BPM — is critical to the success of both practices making a difference for your company’s bottom line.

If you search around the internet for information and best practices regarding SOA and BPM, you’ll find that both practices seem to get grouped together. Often times, they are even grouped together as one package, with those new to business optimisation assuming that the terms are interchangeable. This, however, is not the case, as we have outlined in our previous article, “What Are The Differences Between BPM and SOA?”

What’s important to remember is that the process of building Service Oriented Architecture is an IT-oriented process, and part of the bigger BPM picture. It is, very simply, a technological means to an end. Business processes, after all, have for the majority of modern human civilization been hashed out and implemented without the use of information technology. It is only very recently that we consider BPM to be inextricably linked with computing and IT data sharing.

In this way, BPM not only comes first, but also comes last in the implementation process as well: SOA is essentially sandwiched in between, and becomes the robust realisation of what has been theoretically mapped out in the BPM planning stages. In order for SOA to be effective, the BPM starting point should be governed and conceived of by the business management component of an organisation, with early consultation from a CIO or IT staff as a “reality check” along the way. This way, unrealistic process concepts are not foisted on the SOA implementor, but at the same time, the vision for BPM is kept within the domain of business managers and not IT managers.

However, BPM/SOA Projects quite often go wrong because of the disconnection between business and IT at many levels, as well as a tendency to see both BPM and SOA as interchangeable disciplines that are both the domain of IT. A lack of business understanding on the part of the early BPM team, together with a lack of effective communication and poor design governance can lead to a “cart before the horse” conundrum that results in a major breakdown of the process.

Off-shoring can particularly complicate the matter, especially if the off-shore provider is given too much lattitude to design business processes without a native understanding of your company’s organisation and issues.

to conclude, an efficient BPM project should begin with the business stakeholders, and in turn let their goals and processes drive the IT side of SOA implementation. By allowing BPM to be the thinking and SOA to be the doing, companies can avoid the pitfalls of confusing the two.

Thanks for reading our article! Did you know that Integrella is one of the leading UK SOA consultants and providers? Be sure to visit our website on more information for how we can assist in both your BPM and SOA projects.


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