Alphabet soup for lunch

Just watched a great lunchtime webinar, “The Business Value of Process Standards”, although I was dining al desko and managed to drop sunflower seeds into my keyboard that required some mid-webinar keyboard surgery. I mentioned this webinar in a previous post on BPM standards, and was glad to see that it lived up to my expectations. eBizq usually makes the webinars available for replay on the same link within a couple of days, so you can check it out if you missed it live.

Jeanne Baker, the primary speaker, is VP of Technology at Sterling Commerce, but she was speaking in her capacity as Chairman of BPMI and didn’t even mention Sterling’s products. In fact, the webinar was sponsored by Oracle, so the only product that was (briefly) discussed was Oracle’s BPEL Process Manager.

Since the discussion was on standards, the inevitable alphabet soup resulted, but two acronyms floated to the top of the broth: BPMN and BPEL. BPMN is a standard for modelling business process notation, and BPEL is a standard for executing business processes. Conveniently, BPMN maps directly to BPEL, so they work in concert for designing and implementing business processes. Both of the speakers stressed the importance of the BPMN and BPEL standards, a point with which I fully agree.

On the subject of modelling standards, I especially liked Ms. Baker’s comment on the use of UML for process design (which echoes my own sentiments from my previously-referenced posting): “UML is used by poor, hapless process modellers [who didn’t have anything better, such as BPMN].” I was laughing so hard when I heard that, I didn’t get the whole quote, but that’s the gist of it.

It’s also worth checking out the newly-designed BPMI site, it’s a lot nicer to look at and has a great deal more information than on my last visit there. It gives a much better definition of BPMI’s role in standards development, and features an interesting graphic that Ms. Baker also used in her presentation to illustrate BPMI’s involvement the lifecycle of business process management:

The diagram shows Process Designers as an essential link between business analysts and system architects, but that skill set is often absent on BPM projects. As she spoke about the importance of that role, it struck me that although I started my career as a developer and software architect, I now usually sit in the process designer role, while spreading in both directions into business analysis and system architecture. I describe myself as a “technology catalyst”, because I like to make to make stuff happen, especially that bridge between business and technology.

From the BPMI site:

BPMI focuses upon the Business Process as the inflexion point between the business environment and a technology implementation. Our work is relevant to a wide range of audiences as we innovate a seamless transition ‘path to execution’ for Business Processes. Our aim is to unify process thinking across Business and IT disciplines.

A lofty, but very worthwhile goal.

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