Sandy Kemsley and I spent an interesting hour discussing SAP BPM with Wolfgang Hilpert.
SAP has recently announced and previewed 7.2 of their Netweaver BPM product (as discussed by Sandy here). While this release was really focused recently on improving modeling with BPMN there are a number of other improvements:
- Creating user interfaces based on these processes has got easier too, with better integration with the UI design tools and auto-generation of first cut user interfaces.
- Supporting intermediate events so that asynchronous operations that take place in core applications, for instance, can be correlated so that processes that were waiting for those events can then continue. The new event infrastructure for the core business applications allows the events within the business applications to be selectively exposed to the BPM environment.
- Improved integration with the SAP business applications – making it easier to find and use enterprise services from the business suite. A search console provides semantically rich search for traditional SAP BAPIs or new enterprise services and then these can be dragged into the BPM environment. The support for BAPIs means that traditional SAP installations, non-SOA enabled ones, can adopt BPM to link these together and extend them.
- And, obviously, much more support for rules in this release (see my review of the rules product) including rule flow, verification, rule effectivity, independent deployment, test case development with XML, integration of Excel for decision tables and so on.
- A business friendly “sketch” of a process can be supported so that business users can work on a process without having to see all the technical details of the process. This is very complementary to the rules piece which also allows the technical details of the data structure to be kept hidden behind a more chatty perspective.
- Dashboards and analytics can be developed, using Business Objects tools and the new reporting activity, to bring together process context/execution information and operational data. As you define the reporting activity you can bring in data from the business suite and then use this context to develop what you need.
Collaboration at both design and runtime (as discussed with SAP Research) came up and this is clearly an area where SAP sees much potential and much to do. Pushing the tools for BPM and BRM further up into the business so that people are more author/contributor/doer than just doers. Goal-driven processes are another area of interest as is a continued investment in making it easier to bring the SAP business suite into the BPM environment. Analytics is an area also, moving operational BI forward.