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Recently in a BPM Viewpoint article for ebizQ, I had a little fun at the expense of Global 360 over its "BPM Glossary." So as not to play favorites I have since dived into SAP's and Accenture's "BPM Taxonomy," subtitled "A Guided Tour to the Application of BPM," which is available here.

First of all, there is a difference between a taxonomy and a glossary. Taxonomy does not involve stuffing elk heads but "is the practice and science of classification," according to Wikipedia. According to the same source, "A glossary is an alphabetical list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms." A good taxonomy requires a glossary but a glossary does not require a taxonomy.

Despite the title, the SAP/Accenture white paper does not provide a business process management (BPM) classification system but instead "provides a survey of the practices and technology of BPM" and a companion survey of various very selective types of software tools that can be used to enable BPM. Although I have never done a full BPM taxonomy, my back-of-an-envelope classification of BPM technology is much broader than SAP's implied taxonomy. As this diagram that we use to illustrate BPM history here at ebizQ shows, I count at least a half-dozen classes (although startup is admittedly a false class; pureplay would also be a straw-man classification except that I don't fall into that trap).

I did not pore over all 55 pages of SAP's and Accenture's white paper in detail but it appears -- naturally -- that SAP does not want to go as broad as I do since it does not supply many of the possible BPM-enabling tool types. In particular I saw no mention of enterprise content management (ECM) or B2B technology (although SAP itself has a good story in the latter class). And the white paper really got down into the weeds of services oriented architecture (SOA), which is not required to implement a useful BPM solution.


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