BPTrends Report on Enterprise Architecture, Process Modeling & Simulation Tools

BPTrends today released The 2005 Enterprise Architecture, Process Modeling & Simulation Tools Report, downloadable for free. They review 10 products:

Like their 2005 BPM Suites Report that I reviewed here, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The first 26 pages contain some great background information including their view of the business process software market (a reasonable representation), plus detailed definitions of enterprise architecture, process modeling and simulation tools, whereas the product sections appear to be technical marketing info provided by vendors. As with the BPM suites report, a caveat at the beginning states that the vendors paid to be part of the report, and that BPTrends did no independent product testing: my same assessment holds true that the product sections, although well organized and well written, don’t provide anything that you couldn’t get from the vendors’ websites.

What I find really interesting about this report is the categorization of enterprise architecture (EA) tools together with process modeling and simulation:

This report focuses on tools that companies use to analyze and modify business processes. The core tool for this task is a tool that lets business managers or analysts create a diagram or model of a business process and then change that diagram to explore how the process could be improved or redesigned.

Tools that provide support for organization analysis and modeling are, today, usually termed Enterprise Architecture tools. Tools that focus entirely on simulation are termed Simulation Tools. Increasingly, however, companies are using business process modeling tools that also incorporate support for enterprise modeling and simulation. Thus, we decided to include all the tools that can be used for Enterprise Architecture, Business Process Modeling, and Process Simulation in the same report.

I have spent a good part of the last few years talking to customers about how EA and process fit together, but a lot of people are still hung up on limiting EA either to content (that is, Zachman‘s column 1, Data) or to what I sometimes jokingly refer to as “implementation details” (that is, Zachman’s rows 4 and 5, Technology Model and Detailed Representations). By grouping EA together with process modeling and simulation, BPTrends has highlighted the fact that processes are critical to the enterprise, and any EA exercise had better include processes. Unlike content, which is restricted to the Data column, processes in an enterprise impact several of Zachman’s columns: Function, Network, People and Time. And, unlike the focus of many IT departments, processes in an enterprise are most effectively modeled in the top three of Zachman’s rows: the Scope, Business Model and System Model.

Lots more to write but no time due to a looming deadline and yesterday’s failed router that put my network out of commission for most of the day — just one of the joys of working for myself. Read the report (or at least the first 26 pages) and talk amongst yourselves.

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