Saturday, July 12, 2008

What else in BPMN 2.0, Process Inheritance, Variance?

I am hearing two different perspectives from people in BPM field. There is one set of users who see a lot of adoption already of BPM (and BPMN) and there is another which says that the industry is on the upward curve.
That brings me to the actual question(s) I want to ask, what else would users want to see in BPMN 2.0.
Process Inheritance: Just for the sake of clarity and being on the same page, let me take a stab at what I mean by Process Inheritance. Process Inheritance implies a parent child relationships between processes. e.g. If "building a house" is a project, "building the foundation", "building the frame" and "electric wiring" would be child projects of this project.
The child process "building the foundation" could be further sub divided into "lay the plumbing", "put the concrete slab" and "install latent heating". And further on. Tool users can then navigate across parent and child processes. Further there could be dependencies across this child processes. I already see several tools support this paradigm including Oracle BPA Suite. The question I am trying to understand is whether this should be mandated by the specification.

Process Variance?
Once again to be on the same page as readers. Process Variance implies geography, polity, legal, ... etc specific variations of the process definition. There are questions about whether these variants should be allowed to modify the original process or should continue to exist within the variation parameter. e.g. If the process requires a credit check in the US version, it might require three steps to verify credit - physical verification of identity, address and property ownership before deciding the credit worthiness of the applicant. Once again there are tools that let business users do this. However, the question is whether this should be mandated? And if yes, then what would be the mandated behavior. In this example it may seem apparent that the localized process should not change the base process but there are examples where the base process needs to be "upgraded"?
I am looking to BPM practitioners and customers in the field to state their opinion on this!

53 comments:

Bruce Silver said...

Vishal,
glad you are posting on this topic, but I have some questions. On first one "inheritance", I don't understand how your item differs from embedded and reusable subprocess (renamed call activity) in the current spec. Are you proposing new semantics, new notation, or new level of mandatory support? The same question applies to the process variance feature, what some BPMSs call "dynamic subprocess." Do you require that the interface of all variants be the same or not? The focus of BPMN 2.0 seems to be more on the formalism and less on the issue you raise: what features need to be added to make the notation more useful to practitioners? I plan to blog about this one myself.

Sebastian said...

I wouldn't call it inheritance. It is just having a hierarchy of process models. Inheritance would mean different things like a child process having the properties of the parent process.

Alan Crean said...

Mate

I think Bruce made a great point - its about establishing BPMN as the global standard.

have a look at www.processmaster.com for the 4 minute vide on what we are doing to drive that

Marcello said...

Hi Vishal,

I'm glad you raised the issue of process variance. Indeed, that's a whole stream of research in BPM dealing with this topic. Essentially, process variance, or more generally "process configuration", deals with the representation of multiple variants of the same process in an integrated artifact - the reference process model. Beyond ducumentation, the purpose of reference process models is reusability - these models are in fact meant to be configured to suit the needs of specific settings (e.g. an organization or a new market). Configuration is usually done by removing those variants that are no longer relevant.

Although nowadays many reference models exist for specific industry sectors (e.g. VICS or SCOR for supply chain management, SAP ERP, etc.), these models fail to convey information about the variability of their processes in a standard and unambiguous way. Many reference models only exist as textual documentation and a bunch of informal diagrams...

Therefore I personally think mechanisms for representing process variability and for configuring process models should be standardized. This could foster portability across industries such that more organizations can contribute to and benefit from the same standards.

To know more about this research topic, you can visit www.processconfiguration.com

Marcello La Rosa

Rameshh said...

Hi,

We are into implementing Oracle BPA Suite.Kindly let us know where we can find the "Project Plan for BPA".

Please let us know the process methodologies for Implementing BPA Suite.

Any suggestion or help would be greatly appreciated.

this is mail id:ramesh.sathyamoorthy@gmail.com.

Thanks

Derek M said...

Vishal - I know this is a little old, but there is a bigger picture here than is represetned in any of the comments or indeeed withing BPMN itself.

I refer to it as the "Global-Local Conundrum" ... to what extent should a globally adopted process be adapted locally.

And this is not about notation ... more an issue of repository support and variation. Let's give you a case study example - If Oracle have a global process for Budgeting ... the reality is that the center wants to know the outcomes of the process. How budgeting is approached in the US is going to be wildly different from how it approached in Zambia or New Zealand, or the UK ...

Point is that the problem is not one that is relevant to the notation per se, it is about the way in which the organization manages variation and the guidelines to where the boundaries are drawn. Attempting to standardize a notational issue here is a waste of time.

Far better to focus on Compliance Levels.

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