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When 3 Become 1

by Michael Stamback and Eduardo Chiocconi | SAPinsider

October 1, 2011

New market opportunities, increased competition, and the need to comply with internal and external regulations are forcing businesses to constantly evolve. This article takes a look at SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration — which blends SAP NetWeaver BPM, SAP NetWeaver BRM, and SAP NetWeaver PI — a solution designed to help companies keep up with these rapid changes and provide a foundation to generate better business and IT alignment.
 

There are two old sayings — “change is constant” and “the key to success is the ability to adapt” — that have gained new meaning in today’s business world. New market opportunities, increased competition, and the need to comply with internal and external regulations are just a few examples of factors that are forcing businesses to continuously — and rapidly — evolve. Too often, though, organizations struggle to cope with the pace of change and thus lag behind.

To stay ahead of the curve, companies need to move to more agile paradigms that provide a foundation to generate better business and IT alignment and that empower the business community to do more on its own, without relying so much on IT. SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration software combines integration and business process management technologies to provide that foundation, enabling organizations to address those parts of their business that require superior flexibility to adapt at the speed of change. 

Introducing SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration

SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration bundles the strength, power, and agility of SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management (SAP NetWeaver BPM), SAP NetWeaver Business Rules Management (SAP NetWeaver BRM), and SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI) in a single, integrated solution. The combination of these three technologies empowers organizations to address the entire business process life cycle, allowing them to efficiently address their business’s unique requirements. The solution does all this by abstracting these requirements and using them to create a flexible business process that spans both SAP and non-SAP environments.

SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration enables this flexibility across the stack, from the process layer down into the service layer. It provides an extensible, flexible framework that allows organizations to extend their stable, core SAP Business Suite processes without having to manage and maintain expensive customizations directly within the back-end system.

The different components of SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration are designed to run within the same Java Virtual Machine, leveraging the same infrastructure for both integration-centric and human-centric processes. This provides better synergies among the different layers of the stack by reducing overhead and more closely leveraging the capabilities, such as process integration mappings, within the business processes themselves. Additionally, it can ultimately save both time and money.

3 Become 1: What Each Component Brings to the Table

Since each component of SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration brings something different to the table, let’s take a look at each piece individually (see Figure 1).

1. SAP NetWeaver PI

SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration’s solid, robust service-oriented architecture (SOA) foundation comes from SAP NetWeaver PI’s underlying enterprise service bus component. This allows SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration to act as a mediation layer that enables connectivity to SAP instances (via the Enterprise Services Repository, BAPI, and RFC, for example) and to other heterogeneous IT systems in the organization’s landscape.

The mediation layer insulates consuming applications from change in the underlying back-end systems by creating proxy interfaces to the back-end service providers, generating an abstraction layer between back-end systems and consuming applications. SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration also leverages technology adapters (such as, web services, FTP, JMS, mail, and files, for example) following existing SOA best practices for application-to-application (A2A) and business-to-business (B2B) connectivity. 

2. SAP NetWeaver BPM

The SAP NetWeaver BPM component of SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration offers the ability to increase collaboration and alignment between business and IT through business process modeling capabilities, using a standard business process modeling notation (BPMN) that is understandable by both IT and the business. IT can augment these agreed-upon models to connect to the right systems (with the help of the SAP NetWeaver PI component) and to the right people involved in the business process to streamline execution. The end result is increased visibility and auditability. 

3. SAP NetWeaver BRM

The SAP NetWeaver BRM component allows companies to add business policies and rules to their core business processes. One of the greatest benefits of blending BRM with the other components of SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration is that doing so provides a central place for managing policies and allowing business owners to make changes. These changes to business rules and policies happen frequently, and enabling business owners to manage them in a governed manner is a great way to increase flexibility and do business faster, while still ensuring that all rules are followed. SAP NetWeaver BRM’s integration with SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration’s other components also means that companies can create process-centric applications that include the proper delegation of responsibilities.

Figure 1 Components of SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration

Addressing the End-to-End Business Process Life Cycle

SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration allows the people responsible for defining and implementing business processes to work together more closely than ever. More importantly, this solution sets the stage for how companies should approach process-centric applications to generate better business and IT alignment and to minimize disconnects and misunderstandings. It addresses each area of responsibility within the business process life cycle to provide a smooth transition through the lifecycle stages, leveraging the core strengths of each category of individuals involved. As shown in Figure 2, the business process life cycle aligns:

  • Business analysts: Non-technical individuals who understand the business requirements
  • Developers: Technical individuals who are responsible for building systems supporting business needs
  • IT administrators: Technical individuals who keep the IT infrastructure up and running
  • Process owners: Non-technical individuals who manage and supervise the business’s day-to-day operations
  • End users: Disparate persons who need to interact with the process
Figure 2 The four main phases of the business process life cycle, and the various personas involved in them

Throughout the phases of the business process life cycle — model, implement, optimize, and execute (refer back to Figure 2) — these individuals must cooperate to bring flexible and agile process-centric applications together with the mission of easily accommodating change. The only way to scale and react to changing business conditions in a timely manner is to empower the right business individuals to effectively manage change on their own. (After all, they know best how the business should be run.)

Not only will non-IT personnel gain power to change and adapt applications in a timely manner as business requirements and demands change, but IT will also gain its own benefits from empowering business users — for example, it will free up IT to focus more on strategic initiatives and keep up with the pace of change in the business.

What’s Next?

Moving forward, SAP plans to provide even more capabilities in SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration for defining end-to-end processes and leveraging capabilities from SAP’s Business Process Library initiative. This initiative connects to the SAP business process repository and externalizes standard and customized SAP Business Suite processes rendered in BPMN (the same notation used by the BPM component in SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration). The simple visibility this provides, along with the evidence of how the company’s processes are working, is beneficial by itself, but more value is obtained by using this externalization as a reference model and defining the necessary extensions to create business differentiation. Doing so provides a much more organic extension to SAP Business Suite processes and shows how they could be completely connected in a unified life cycle.

Customers that are implementing the new paradigms enabled by SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration are already seeing great returns, including accelerated time to value, a leg up over the competition, and financial benefits. For more information, contact michael.stamback@sap.com or eduardo.chiocconi@sap.com.

Michael Stamback (michael.stamback@sap.com) is Solution Lead and General Manager of SAP’s Integration and Orchestration portfolio under Technology Solution Management at SAP.

Eduardo Chiocconi (eduardo.chiocconi@sap.com) works at SAP as Solution Manager, leading the SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management and SAP NetWeaver Business Rules Management solutions since 2010.

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