The point of model a business process is to capture the organizational way of working. Typically we talk about operations, customer support, and R&D.
A notation is needed to talk with each other. BPMN provides a visual notation. It is standard now. Enterprise Architect supports BPMN1.1. The OMG (Object Management Group, altough sometimes they err on the side of « Oh My God » on the complexity front) is maintaining it. Well, actitity diagrams do form the basis for modeling the processes, made of activities, decisions, transitions and so on. So, why BPMN when we have activity diagrams ?
BPMN provides a much richer notation, with cleared building blocks (receiving, complex decisions, resources).
FYI, there is a core set of diagram elements, namely : Event, Sequence Flow, Activity, Message Flow, Gateway, Association.
In the complete set of diagram elements, we ge tthis like special event types : message, timer, exception, cancel, compensations, rule, link, terminate, multiple.
Activities also get a fair treatment on that front. Subprocess, task, recurrent task…
We can also use Pool et Lane. Pool is a pool of people (think and organization). Inside a pool, you can get multiple lanes. One person can be a lane as well. Some rules do apply. Message flows can only go between pools, because you are not going to control the business processes of other organizations (they won’t let you!).
All of these things are depicted with a nice little icon on the diagram. This would be a bit short but there are also the tagged values and the specific pick lists in the tagged values windows for supporting that. All in all, the BPMN support is very decent. As usual, EA provides top notch document generation facilities and getting printouts that hold water nicely is a non-issue and work very well.
I jumped in (could not resist) and explained a bit about how BPMN and EA work well hand in hand along with the quicklinker, the shortcuts for creating the same item over and over (shift-F3, F3) if you have lots of them, the fact that you can put the tagged value window docked in a nice place. The tagged value window is crafted in such a way that it behaves in an improved way when dealing with BPMN.
Case study time !
Mr Pierre-Philippe Delmarcelle presents the case study. He is Enterprise Architect for C&W (I would say tought leader on these issues).
Callataÿ and Wouters faces the challenge of having customers asking about how to solve business issues and not only be a technical provider.
Internationalization brought its own challenges : standardization needs(BPMN helps when working with integrators, consulting, …), explaining how the solution works. Traceability is very important due to regulations. With risk reduction needs, customization is not that hot anymore. But flexibility points are needed still.
To support Enterprise Architecture, we need a business process model, an application architecture model and a systems model.
The business is modeled with the Business Object Model, the Business Landscape (BIAN aligned), the Business Process Model, the Business Organization Model. These things have been (quickly) created in the previous months of 2009 with the help of Expert-IT.
TEA is the name of the enterprise architecture of the Thaler product of C&W.
Traceability between the process activity and the components that realize it is maintained.
A number of business areas are established (the diagram appears quite busy, showing the complexity of the undertaking).
So, this screen supports this or that process, being part of a specific domain.
All modeling was done using BPMN in Enterprise Architect.
The full metamodel has been created in Enterprise Architect and made available as a custom toolbox, a set of rules governing the model and so on.
Analysts do work fully inside Enterprise Architect and output RTF documents from which PDF document can be delivered.
Import/export of model parts is done with the XMI (Package Control features) so that analysts can work in a disconnected way.
Archimate serves as a solid metamodel as an inspiration source.
EA is a very nice tool for Pierre-Philippe Delmarcelle:very flexible, not costly, with lots of exports (XMI allows to move it into other tools (mega, aris)).
How to use the business process model in the projects.
Before : Customer Questions : How will you do the implementation? Are there gaps?
Since time to market is money, this is helping tremendously on the added value front.
Before, we conducted demos and looked at screens. This was very fine grained, missed the big picture.
Now (with the new methodology) : the thinking with landscape model helps in scoping faster the discussion.
With the client, we can now come with our Thaler reference business model in the initial workshops. The business processes of Thaler and the ones of the customer can be compared.
We can now explain how our solution works in business terms.
Please note that the business processes in the blueprint are clearly highlighting how Thaler shines as a solution there.
Some demos are still necessary but much less than before.
The outcome of the workshops provide clear guidance on how to perform the implementation in a value-added way, with a high probability of success. The gaps are now made clear and can be addresses with an economy of means.
An outcome of the new ways is that the responsibilities are much clearer when it comes to the customer side and the integrator side. The improved quality is a key addition. As a side effect, this brought a new service when it comes to helping in tailoring business processes.
Clear communication is really the power of business processes. Lot more gaps identified with the new approach (up to more than 278 in a large project. Reduced to almost zero when looking at the ways that Thaler standard system worked!). Risks are really going down.
Key take aways :
- TEA is now the underpinning of everything
- A guiding blueprint is useful for :
- Client facing demand management to create a solution enabling strategy
- Client facing implementation much less risky and aligned with the strategy
- Customer and internal projects are accelerated, risk is mitigated
- Better communication
- Start form business concepts
- Use market agreed concepts leading to consensus fast
- Efficiency and cost reduction achieved
- Better scoping of requirement and management of development
- Standardization and resuse of common concepts
- Enable SOA strategy for the solution
- Without the bluepring and details, SOA cannot be truly realized because you need a catalog of services that do make sense in real situations
This makes it very clear that the Enterprise Architecture is not only vaporware but a pragmatic, value-deliverying, business accelerating approach. Callataÿ and Wouters proves it and as such is positioned as a market leader in its field.
Kudos to Pierre-Philippe Delmarcelle and team for his great presentation and great vision. His achievements of creating more than 120 processes, defining the methodology, producing the reporting, training teams and partners has been defined in less than 6 months. BIAN proved to be a great asset when it comes to mastering complexity and chunking it in manageables pieces that can be assimilated properly.
As a bonus, TEAL — Thaler Enterprise Architecture Language – a special BPMN evolution has been defined, implemented and put to use. Sparx Enterprise Architect served as the central repository that federated everything together.
BIAN + TEAL + Blueprinting + Components + Enterprise Architecture = Success and Solid Basics!
Like in the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together”.