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In a recent survey of 1,400 CIOs by Gartner Executive Programs, the top business priority identified by CIOs was business process improvement . This has led to a renewed focus on core business processes – how they are performed today, how they can be improved and how quickly they can be changed. Succeeding with process improvement requires the coordinated effort and communication of groups from across the company – from line of business managers to software developers. Their discussions will range from a discussion of key performance metrics to which activities are performed by which groups down to what data is required from existing systems.

Today, IT groups are working to put in place the architecture and tools that will allow their company to support process improvement. In many cases, they have been implementing a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) in order to re-orient their core technology to reflect new consumption patterns. While most companies have used their SOA to support data integration and system rationalization to this point, SOA provides an excellent technical basis for the business process improvement initiatives ahead. The benefits that a SOA provides – simplification, flexibility, consistency, ease of change, encapsulation – will help IT groups implement process improvement. However, SOA is only part of the story. As valuable as it is, a SOA and its tools are still fundamentally technically focused. By design, SOA presents an atomic view of the functions and data a company supports. However, if you present a line of business manager with a list of services, he will probably have no idea how he can use those services to drive process improvement. The service oriented context is a part of the process improvement equation, but it needs a partner.

Leading IT groups are recognizing that they also need to deploy Business Process Management (BPM) technology and practices to enable process improvement. They recognize that enabling their business teams with BPM will give their company a competitive advantage in driving process improvement. This competitive advantage is realized through self-sufficiency in process discovery, better prioritization and requirements of requests to technical teams, a more efficient environment for collaboration and the ability to drive requirements down into the SOA layer. This paper discusses these benefits in more detail and show how leading companies have recognized that implementing BPM and SOA together gives them unique capabilities. However, before reviewing the benefits, it is important to understand what a combined BPM and SOA architecture looks like at a high level. It is this combined architecture that will enable business process improvement.


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