BPM Think Tank Day 2: Business Process Frameworks

Next was a panel on business process frameworks with representative from various framework standards

Tom Mercer (VRM from the Value Chain Group), Lloyd Chumbley (ACORD), Philippe de Smedt (OMG Finance Domain) and Paul Harmon (covering SCOR and eTOM, and also moderating).

Each panelist spoke briefly about the mission of their organization and framework:

  • VRM (Value Reference Model) is an analytical framework that establishes a classification scheme for business processes using a hierarchy of levels and relationships through inputs/outputs. Unlike many other frameworks, it doesn’t appear to be specific to any industry vertical, which makes it more like a methodology than a framework. Mercer said that they’re working on a relationship/mapping between VRM and BPMM. With 38 slides for a 10-minute presentation, I’m sure that I missed something along the way…
  • ACORD is an insurance standards organization, and all of their standards are focussed on that vertical. They started with (paper) insurance forms, then moved on to EDI and XML for exchanging data. More recently, they’ve started standardizing terminology/vocabulary and high-level process components (e.g., “determine coverage”, “indicate beneficiary”), which has some pretty exciting potential both for improving insurance companies internally as well as the cross-organization processes. Chumbley gave the benefits of a framework: save time, reduce risks, enable business agility, reduce costs, and enable incremental development. Many insurance companies were already using their own proprietary frameworks, and ACORD is working to have them come together in an industry-standard framework in order to facilitate the integration of third parties — reinsurers, contractors, geographically-diverse divisions, outsourcers, agencies, etc. — into a company’s process. They identify the three key components of the framework as a common glossary and data structures (standardized terms and relationships); business capabilities and process definitions (library of standard process building blocks); and a business messaging library. Their goal is consumability of those standards, and they see the necessity of working with OMG, OASIS and W3C to come into line on these.
  • OMG creates domain-specific specifications and standards like reference models of business processes for financial services, which has been issued in RFP format. They focus on two key use cases — funds transfer (including payment authorization, clearing and settlement) and account opening (including loan origination, subscription, applications and enrollment) — with a goal to reduce the risk of sensitive data exposure by reducing the amount of data that has to be transmitted in order to execute a specific type of process. The reference models will include data models, service models, process models and trust models, and it’s their goal to create a metamodel that can be applied to a wide range of financial services.
  • SCOR was developed in order to facilitate supply chains that cross company boundaries, as well as to standardize and improve supply chain internal processes. This started as a common vocabulary, then a standard set of measures for the purpose of establishing industry benchmarks. Harmon gave an example of what happened during the HP-Compaq merger, where the supply chain groups (both using SCOR) were able to model their processes and select the software that supported the more efficient version of process — no arguments over whose process or software was better, since they had industry-standard benchmarks against which to measure.
  • eTOM is a framework specifically for telecommunications organizations, and models the value chains and processes across the company. They take these down to explicit process models in UML, and show where ITIL fits in.

In general, the domain-specific frameworks tend to drill down to deeper levels of detail, which appears to me to have the potential to provide greater value.

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