TIBCO webinar: Why and how to move ahead with BPM and SOA

I’ve missed a few of the TIBCO webinar series this summer, such as the one on BPMN, and wanted to tune into this one to look at the modelling-to-execution process as TIBCO presents it.

They’re using a different webinar provider this time — the webinars that I did with them were all done with Webex, and we had one live failure that was a bit inconvenient although not disastrous. Ironically, the one slide that was incorrectly rendered in today’s presentation was related to visibility:

Lack of visibility

Emily Burns starts out with some starting slides on why people are implementing BPM. Reason #1: peer pressure from all your competitors that you read about in the Forrester and Gartner reports. 🙂  She quoted some interesting recent Forrester research that showed that a little over half of the respondents have an SOA strategy, and about 2/3 of the respondents that have some level of BPM consider it critical for their SOA strategy.

Jason McMahon of AmeriCredit was up next to talk about how they used TIBCO in their automotive loan servicing: 25,000 new loans each month, and over a million active loans. They had to streamline their processes and provide greater visibility into the processes, as well as ensure that they’re meeting regulatory requirements as they expand into new geographic regions. They had a fairly fast deployment cycle: the project kicked off in Q106, design started in Q2, development in Q3, and they were rolling it out in January 07. Version 2 is almost ready to go live. They saw a number of benefits:

  • Optimized business process by doing the “deal-killer” due diligence checks up front and reducing hand-offs
  • Customized processing of contracts by state/country (AmeriCredit operates in Canada, despite their name) and type of loan
  • Business process visibility, including better resource management, and automated alerts and reporting
  • Reduced training time since the rules are embedded in the process
  • Outsourcing readiness so that they can add in an outsourcing vendor for contract data entry (which is available now from at least one provider but not in use at AmeriCredit) and data validation/verification processes

McMahon sees a strong need for BPM-driven SOA design, where BPM is the consumer of services and therefore defines a big part of the requirements for services. This includes discovering services by looking at the current EAI-type integration points in existing processes, as well as during the design of future processes. Outside the actual process, there’s also a number of services that are required to service the processes even though they’re not called directly from the BPMS, such as process triggering events, user/role management, and open/close/purge of cases.

He talked in detail about what AmeriCredit has done with web services, including wrapping business rules/logic in web services so that they can be called from both a non-BPM web interface and the BPMS — exactly the reason that I believe in the separation of BPM and BR. He stepped through a number of best practices for defining services, such as establishing the appropriate level of granularity and ensuring encapsulation of some systems, then continues with an example of looking at a process with its existing integration points and combining the appropriate ones into specific web services.

Since they started with BPM and drove towards SOA, they ended up with a very BPM-focussed SOA, much of it defined by the BPM integration points but also with consideration of other applications that might share the same services.

McMahon’s last words of wisdom: using the BPM tool is simple for redesigning the processes; the hard part is having business users buy in to what the future-state processes should be, and you need a good business analyst to be the mediator here.

They use TIBCO’s iProcess for BPM and BusinessWorks for SOA, in case you haven’t guessed that already. Other implementation points: they built the entire UI in .Net, and extract the process data to a data warehouse for BI rather than hitting the BPMS directly.

A recording of the presentation will be available over the next few days, watch the TIBCO site for details or maybe someone from TIBCO will post the link here as a comment (hint, hint). You can check out the slides here, but you’ll really want to hear the audio as well, especially the Q&A.

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