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Is BPM the 'business face' of SOA?

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With the BPM in Action virtual conference coming tomorrow, it seemed a good time to bring up a question Joe McKendrick brings up in this blog. So is BPM the 'business face' of SOA?  Should it be?

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  • Peter -

    Yes and no. And that's from people who have had a white paper on achieving and preserving optimal technology ROI through BPM+SOA coordination out for couple of years. However, what we've found in practice is that from a business perspective, BPM accounts for ~20% of business activities. The rest is is a hodgepodge of various other capability portfolios that are coalescing into Case Management (according to Forrester) or Adaptive Case Management (according to Gartner.) So yes - BPM is 20% of the 'business face' of SOA, but it's certainly not the only one.


    Aleks Buterman
    SenseAgility Group

  • No - BPM is about the management of business processes. Some of these will be manual, some automated services, and hopefully many of those will adhere to SOA and its variations (e.g. EDA).

    So although they are extremely complementary, they are different technology stacks with the overlap of "automated process orchestrated as a service".

    Aleks' comment is interesting about "case management" being a new catchall term. It seems that just as many people see everything as a process, or as a service, some are now viewing everything as a "case"!


  • If that question does indicate that SOA misunderstanding has "jumped the shark", then I don't know what does.

    To explain, SOA has been co-opted to represent a spectrum of ideas within information technology, but at its root is a design paradigm for delivery of business services. It's "face" is the architectural artifacts that get created to guide the development of a system. BPM is a practice of identifying and achieving appropriate level of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) within your business. One of it's tools to achieving that is process orchestration and one of the tools of process orchestration could be a service that, hopefully, was designed and delivered as part of the SOA design.

    To say that BPM is the business face of SOA dismisses the entire body of work that SOA represents and presents it as nothing more than a step within the BPM effort. Whereas, SOA, by itself, should represent enough value to stand on its own as a means of designing and aligning the IT efforts with the business goals.

  • I agree with the posts about. Specifically, creating flexible processes via automation with a BPMS is an effective way to derive business value from SOA. But there are several other ways to put a business face to SOA. For example, using SOA to power a multi-channel product distribution or customer-service strategy.

    Please pardon the plug, but if you are interested in how SOA can drive business value, you will find this upcoming Forrester + Software AG webinar very relevant:

  • If the objectives of SOA are fully achieved, it will somewhere meet the objectives BPM.

    I am not sure of the face, but i think the heart of both BPM and SOA have the same feelings.

  • I think BPM can be implemented many ways, one of which adopts the SOA Strategy. I think using a SOA strategy certainly will help with any BPM project, however, I don't believe they are tied at the hip.

  • Definitely, no.
    BPM has its "Business Face" and SOA has its "Business Face". Both are about Business and IT alignmnet. SOA and BPM converge. Aligning SOA and BPM efforts is a Best Practice. Preceiving SOA as the Technical aspect of Business oriented BPM is a common misconception which is one of the reasons for high rate of SOA initiatives failures.

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