We use cookies and other similar technologies (Cookies) to enhance your experience and to provide you with relevant content and ads. By using our website, you are agreeing to the use of Cookies. You can change your settings at any time. Cookie Policy.

Now that the BPEL4People specification has finally been released, it is important to clarify exactly what it covers, and what it doesn't cover.

Let's start with something my fellow ebizQ writer Michael Dortch said recently in his blog (12 April 2007), following some comments I made to an earlier post of his:

"I think I now think there are two classes of processes - task-driven and human-driven. I think I also now think that task-driven processes define and/or how tasks get done, often by IT systems and resources, while human-driven processes define and/or describe how people do things. Both are essential to successful business operations. However, they are very different from one another, and cannot likely be equally effectively addressed by any common set of processes or technologies."

Why are BPM experts like Michael making such a dramatic division? Because all mainstream BPM languages, including graphical notations like BPMN, are based on carrying out steps in a pre-defined sequence - and this is not what happens when humans work together.

Turning to BPEL4People, it claims to support patterns for "human interactions." However, in terms of the above division, these are human interactions in "task-driven" processes. In other words, what the specification authors mean by "human interactions" is interactions between humans and systems (H2S) - not interactions between humans and humans (H2H).

Let's take an example. Suppose a document is escalated by Joe to Jane for approval - a typical application for BPEL4People. What happens is this. First, Joe tells the system "this document needs higher approval". Then, the system works out that Jane should do it, and adds the approval task to her worklist. Finally, next time Jane accesses her worklist, she sees a new document for approval. There is no direct interaction between Joe and Jane at all. Everything is mediated by worklists, or notification managers, the logic behind which is largely set in stone at the time the processes were originally implemented.

This is an entirely separate issue from dealing with interactions between humans and humans (H2H). Such work is collaborative, innovative, and adaptive - and cannot be supported with a language such as BPEL, no matter how it is extended. Let's take another example. Suppose Joe uncovers a new opportunity with a client. He knows that to realize the opportunity he will need support from others, including Jane. He needs to start a new work process to deal with the opportunity - and this work process will involve a number of people, although at the start the only person Joe knows he will need is Jane. Others will be included as they go along - similarly, they will define on-the-fly the various responsibilities, activities, and deliverables of each person. If you know anything at all about BPEL4People, it will be immediately obvious that it could never be used to support such a work process. Rather, H2H interactions are the domain of Human Interaction Management (HIM).


1  2  3  

   Next Page

Explore Our Topics

  • Virtual Conferences
  • Webinars
  • Roundtables

BPM in Action

March 10, 2011

The sixth annual BPM in Action 2011 Virtual Conference will explore cutting-edge market developments in BPM and describe how to leverage them for improved business operation and performance. More

View All Virtual Conferences

Smart Case Management: Why It's So Smart.

Date:Nov 05, 2009
Time:12:00 PM ET- (17:00 GMT)


Date:Oct 29, 2009
Time:15:00 PM ET- (19:00 GMT)

View All Roundtables
  • Research Library
  • Podcasts
  • News

Joe McKendrick: Part II of II: Designing Evolve-ability into SOA and IT Systems

In part two of Joe McKendrick's recent podcast with Miko Matsumura, chief strategist for Software AG, they talk about how SOA and IT systems need to change and grow and adapt with the organization around it.

Listen Now

Phil Wainewright: Helping Brands Engage with Social Media

Phil Wainewright interviews David Vap, VP of products at RightNow Technologies, and finds out how sharing best practices can help businesses understand how best to engage with online communities.

Listen Now

Peter Schooff: Making Every IT Dollar Result in a Desired Business Outcome: Scott Hebner of IBM Rati

Scott Hebner, Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for IBM Rational, discusses a topic on the top of every company's mind today: getting the most from IT investments.

Listen Now

Jessica Ann Mola: Where Will BI Fit In? Lyndsay Wise Explains

In BI, this tough economy and the increasing role of Web 2.0 and MDM are certainly topics on people's minds today. WiseAnalytics' Lyndsay Wise addresses each of them in this informative podcast.

Listen Now

Dennis Byron: Talking with...Deepak Singh of BPM Provider Adeptia

Deepak Singh, President and CTO of Adeptia, joins ebizQ's Dennis Byron in a podcast that gets its hand around the trend of industry-specific BPM.

Listen Now
More Podcasts
  • Most Popular
  • Quick Guide
  • Most Discussed

Quick Guide: What is BPM?

Learn More

Quick Guide: What is Event Processing?

Smart event processing can help your company run smarter and faster. This comprehensive guide helps you research the basics of complex event processing (CEP) and learn how to get started on the right foot with your CEP project using EDA, RFID, SOA, SCADA and other relevant technologies. Learn More

Quick Guide: What is Enterprise 2.0?

A lot of people are talking about Enterprise 2.0 as being the business application of Web 2.0 technology. However, there's still some debate on exactly what this technology entails, how it applies to today's business models, and which components bring true value. Some use the term Enterprise 2.0 exclusively to describe the use of social networking technologies in the enterprise, while others use it to describe a web economy platform, or the technological framework behind such a platform. Still others say that Enterprise 2.0 is all of these things. Learn More