Collaborative BPM

Evolution of Business Process management 

Business Process Management (BPM) is not a new concept. Juran, through his Quality Circles and Trilogy initiatives advocated Business Processes since the 1960's. In early 80's, Motorola's Six Sigma initiative on process quality became popular. While the Juran's processes was paper based, the Six Sigma employed the use of computer spreadsheets. Post Y2K (Year 2000), SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) became the fashion of the season. However, by the mid of this decade, SOA became the de-facto Enterprise Architecture principle. Once the initial hype settled down, most of the industry players got together through, various industry initiatives like OASIS and  OSOA, to standardize SOA.

The OMG's  Business Process Management Notation (BPMN) is an industry standard. The standard currently in 2.0 can be downloaded from BPMN.org web site. The first generation of the BPMN tools were mere flow chart drawing tools. Most business analysts used the Microsoft's Visio to draw the process flow charts. The second generation of the evolution was the ability to simulate the process flows. Savvion became a popular tool of that generation (now that the state-of-the-art has moved ahead, Savvion has been taken over by Progress). 

A need was felt to be able to execute the business processes, so two standards BPEL and XPDL were employed for this purpose. BPEL was designed for bridging the web services while XPDL was more aligned with BPMN. So, the third generation tools compiled the BPMN notation into either BPMN or  XPDL.

Also,for incorporating the human tasks within the business processes, between 2005 and 2007, Bpel4People and WS-Human Task were specified.  Apache HISE is the open source reference implementation of WS-Human Task specification.

However, some information was lost in translation from BPMN to BPEL/XPDL. Thus, a need was felt within the community to be able to execute the BPM process directly from its notation.
BPMN 2.0 attempts to fulfill this need. Now, the third generation BPM products, like Oracle BPM Suite 11g , have the ability to directly execute the BPMN specified processes. This enables a closed loop continuous process improvement. 

Activiti is an open source BPMN 2.0 execution engine, which I like for its light weight and simplicity of design. Activiti is written in Java and leverages Signavio  Open Source BPMN drawing tool components that can run off a browser.

Collaborative BPM


With Web 2.0 catching the fancy of the suits, enterprises are actively leveraging the concepts 

The Oracle BPM Suite 11g incorporates the collaborative BPM concepts. Oracle calls it Social BPM and has both collaborative modelling as well as execution time collaboration. Here is a web cast describing the social features of BPM Suite 11g

The third generation 
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