Chapter 6. ESA and End-to-End Business Process Management

If SOA is the technology foundation for SAP’s ESA road map, business process management (BPM) is the sister principle from a solutions perspective. SOA and BPM work hand-in-hand to deliver value. Chapter 2 introduced the concept of BPM as a key industry trend associated with the realization of ESA. This chapter provides a more complete look at what BPM is all about, and how its capabilities are realized in SAP NetWeaver.

Unfortunately, the term BPM is often misunderstood because it is applied loosely to mean many different things. BPM sometimes describes a general set of IT capabilities. In other cases, it implies a category of products as defined by industry analysts. In still other cases, BPM refers to specific technologies and features. BPM encompasses all of this and more.

You can best think of BPM as a formal approach to managing and improving your business processes on an end-to-end basis. BPM really began from a business perspective where many important methodologies such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, Performance Management, and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) exist to address the challenge of improving processes. With the emergence of EAI and more standards-based technologies such as Web Services, it didn’t take long for the IT industry to develop new ways to transform these BPM practices. A best-of-breed category of software systems called Business Process Management Systems (BPMS) emerged.

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