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Is BPM bad for enterprise architecture?

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An issue Joe McKendrick raises in this blog, is BPM bad for enterprise architecture? If so, how can it be improved?

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  • Sure. But there is something even worse than BPM - customers.

    How nice system architects' life would be without BPM with its agility, business users with ever-changing requirements and customers that have their own view - again, ever-changing - of how the company should operate.

    Of course enterprise architects are much smarter, they are specially trained so they know better how things should go. No comparison to narrow-minded clients.

    BPM is just a customers or market proxy in this context.

  • Surely if the enterprise architecture is done properly, BPM should sit nicely on top of it ? In other words, they should be very good bed fellows done properly.

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    BPM does not relate to Enterprise Architecture
    BPM is an implementation technique in IT. In Business, it is an implementatino of business functions realised via manual operations. Thus, BPM fits neither into Business nor Technical architecture.

    • Michael I have to disagree with you. The EA is an aggregate with IT as a component. EA is a description of the enterprise that is made of various functioning constituents driven by processes. To piggy back on Todd’s comment a process centric view is relative to EA. I invite you to read my post on EA and IT EA at http://wp.me/pO8n7-1d. Please feel free to leave a comment.

  • I'm going to disagree with Michael's comment. First off, BPM is not bad for enterprise architecture. It is perfectly acceptable to have a process-centric viewpoint of your enterprise. Sure, we can debate on what's implied by the acronym, but I don't think there is an argument against having a process-centric view of your enterprise as one of your viewpoints.

    Also, to Steve Jones' comments about SOA and BPM, he's right in that there are some BPM approaches that can lead to poor service portfolios. That occurs when you continue to have silos in your organization. You've just changed from an application silo to a process silo. The key is to balance project needs against an enterprise viewpoint, which should include both a process-centric view and a service-centric view.

  • As there are no commonly-agreed definitions either for BPM (the community which should define BPM is happy with “…the definition of BPM will necessarily ‘emerge’ as market demands and technologies evolve”) or for EA, then any answer is rather difficult to interpret without it being linked to explicit and profound (up to a reference model) definitions of BPM and EA.

    So, (with the reference to an BPM reference model - http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.com/2010/02/bpm-reference-model-fragment-01.html) I can say that a proper combination BPM and EA (as well as SOA) is the most powerful “tool” for delivery of business solutions.


  • Enterprise Architecture is a description of the processes, people, business functions, systems, and the external environment to include clients, vendors, stakeholders and business information, noting how each unit interconnects to meet the purpose of the enterprise. The EA is designed according to the mission, vision and principles of the enterprise. (Taken from my blog on EA http://wp.me/pO8n7-1d).

    With that said, management of business processes is essential in enterprise architecture. As with all things enterprise, collaboration between the business units, including IT and the BPM point of contact is crucial for a structurally sound EA.

  • enjoy your comment, I think the opposite, not only BPM is not bad for EA, actually should be more like vitamin water to human body, intend to re-invent the EA and re-energize the Enterprise Architect in today's interconnected, decentralized organizations, since it's not effective enough to see each function as silo, the nature of cross-discipline processes would re-paint EA with business innovation, optimization and transformation. thanks.

  • I agree with Alex and would go a bit further. It's not only a powerful tool but also an essential one. Architecture supplies structure to areas which have become so complex and require so many different skills that it's become impossible to maintain a proper overview.

    But as in most cases, organising architecture management and keeping it functioning over a period of time is the really difficult aspect. Couple that with the dynamics of IT architecture, process architecture etc. and add the usual "I decide and I don't need to ask anyone else" attitude and you can see why architecture and BPM are handled as seperate entities rather than a joint undertaking.


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