The folks from Cordys presented their view of the new business operations platform. Current systems development is in the context of four key game-changing trends:
Not just technology but can deliver business processes as services using the Internet
Not just of hardware but of processes and teams
In this environment, processes are a key competitive advantage – much more than many elements of IT (thanks to commoditization). Challenges include showing a single view of my business, optimizing allocation of scarce resources and flexing operations while remaining compliant. Efficiency stems from predictability but rigidity is a real problem.
Today, most companies have duplication of activities and processes, everything is locked away in old environments and it is difficult to outsource or to manage anything but the basic processes. Reengineering processes created a “to be” vision but implementing and customizing ERP delivered, at best, a compromise between the as-is and to-be visions and did so far too long after the original design was made. The time to innovate IT infrastructure (many years), creates friction with the much more rapidly changing business strategy and organization. To reduce the friction you need a process-centric “business operations platform” that builds on the back-end you already have. The idea of managing change in a layer above the back-end systems is one with which I agree but I think decisions are as important as processes in this respect.
The business operations platform, in their mind, uses a Business Process Management Suite (BPMS) and Business Activity Monitoring (BAM). These consume services for business logic, master data management, business rules and more and are layered over a corporate data backbone. The need to extract business rules (decisions) from processes is critical to keeping processes simple enough to bring business users into this process. In addition, third party web service integration and user-driven mashups are required and the whole thing needs to run reliably and scalably.
Processes, while important, are not the end of the road. Well designed business services that make up a process help eliminate complex processes, keep my processes “skinny” and allow for more reuse. Reuse involves understanding KPIs, service-level agreements and metadata for business services. A business operations platform therefore allows:
- Construction of processes from reusable business services
- Share processes and services internall and externally
- Build and sell services
- Build processes dynamically as needed
- Work in an on demand environment
The final state is one where you:
- Are proactive not reactive
- Have a seamless environment
- Link and share systems and resources
- Have very “skinny” processes
- Manage exceptions dynamically
- Have full visibility and status of the supply and demand chain