September 13, 2005
"Essential Business Process Modeling": Best Practices for Building Process-Oriented Workflow Applications
Sebastopol, CA--One of the most fashionable three-letter acronyms in
software today is BPM. It stands for Business Process Modeling, the
step-by-step rules for resolving a particular business problem, such as
processing an insurance claim or booking a client's travel arrangements.
Once referred to as "workflow," BPM is a hot topic among everyone in the
enterprise, from software developers to CEOs. In theory, BPM is a model
of business efficiency. In practice, it's often something different.
"Before the reign of software, 'workflow' meant passing paper from
person to person," comments Michael Havey, author of Essential Business
Process Modeling (O'Reilly, US $44.95). "Now, BPM processes are built
to interact as services with other services. Endless material about BPM
can be found on the Web, but it is a morass of vendor sales pitches,
insubstantial business and technical articles, and imprecise technology.
When BPM is introduced into a modern consulting project, it's frequently
used to solve problems that BPM was not meant to solve."
With Essential Business Process Modeling, Havey dispenses with the
confusion by demonstrating standard ways to code rigorous processes,
which become the centerpieces of a service-oriented architecture.
Relying on his experience as an architect of several major BPM
applications--and his years with BEA and IBM working on BPM product
solutions--he describes BPM concepts, discusses the major standards in
detail, and develops examples of process-oriented applications using
free tools that can be run on an average PC. His unique and timely book
also introduces BPM design patterns, best practices, and select
"The topic of BPM is simple to the beginner," Havey says. "The business
analyst designs the process, the process is run by an engine, and the
engine has Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and human
interaction capabilities. In practice, the intermediate-level student of
BPM, who knows the basics and is responsible for building a BPM-based
solution, is lost in detail. Irrational exuberance about BPM might
compel him to believe that BPM is the solution to all enterprise
BPM, however, is suited only for process-oriented applications. "A
travel agency application, for example, passes the 'acid test' because
it is best understood in terms of the state of the itinerary, and is
defined at all times by how far the itinerary has gotten," Havey
explains. "In an ATM, any sense of process is fleeting and inessential.
An ATM is an online transaction processor, not a process-oriented
Essential Business Process Modeling not only tackles what a
process-oriented application is, but how to build one. In part one of
the book, Havey takes readers through BPM concepts, including a
prescription for a good BPM architecture. Part two explores the sea of
competing standards, and part three offers comprehensive BPM examples,
including human workflow in insurance claims processing, and an
enterprise message broker.
"The ideas behind BPM were not concocted by hurried developers pressured
by considerations of time to market," Havey says. "On the contrary,
process modeling is a huge topic in the community of computer
scientists. Current standards and products are founded on academic
findings. Still, BPM is an emerging discipline with too many standards
and vendor-specific approaches to process modeling. Looking at one
process editor after another, each with a distinct set of symbols and
associated semantics, makes one yearn for rigor and precision."
With Essential Business Process Modeling, Havey turns that yearning
into a practical approach for building BPM applications that rise above
the noise of vendor claims and competing standards.
Essential Business Process Modeling
ISBN: 0-596-00843-0, 332 pages, $44.95 US, $62.95 CA
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