10 Tips for Selecting BPM Products

Monday, September 9, 2013
"a BPM Product" = "a Workflow Product" + {Helpful Features}

That isn't wrong. Yeah, that is right. A "BPM Product" is a "Workflow Product" as well. (On the other hand, it is hard to say '"a Workflow product"is "a BPM product"'.)
As the IT Research company Gartner, pointing out in "Component of a Business Process Management Suite", the core of a BPM product is 'Workflow Engine (Process Execution and State Management Engine)'. That is, a BPM Product always includes Workflow function.

  1. Process Execution and State Management Engine
  2. Model-Driven Composition Environment
  3. Document and Content Interaction
  4. User and Group Interaction
  5. Basic Connectivity
  6. BAM and Business Event Support
  7. Simulation and Optimization
  8. Business Rule Engine
  9. System Management and Administration
  10. Process Component Registry / Repository

However in fact, there is a difference in supporting 'type of Workflow diagram' between "BPM Products" and "(conventional) Workflow Products ".

[Publicity Production flow]

[Publicity Production flow 2]

The Workflow Diagram above is a little complicated. And the capability for this complexity greatly depends on the performance of the workflow engine. (Both of above two diagrams are exactly the same definition.)

These Workflow diagrams have so called 'Looping'. In this example, it can be said 'Sending back to more than one step away'. Anyway, that 'Rooping' is 'Workflow Products killer'. Naturally, supporting for 'Looping' is not always an 'essential function' because it is not needed for organizations that not going to put that kind of operations into Workflow. However, it is not so rare case, so that other operations also will come to your mind as you watch the Workflow diagram for a little while. And "Exclusive Choice" and "Parallel Split" are often discussed as a similar story.

By the way, to whom would like to study deeper, I recommend "Workflow Patterns", the pattern classification study of Workflow diagrams. There, 43 patterns in total of the work of Flow diagram are illustrated.
For a brief introduction, there is 'Sequence' pattern on the top of the list, which is in a simple shape that transition of '[Task A]->[Task B]->[Task C]'. There comes the next, 'Parallel Split' pattern which on the completion of [Task A], [Task B] and {Task C] are undertaken simultaneously.
And the Workflow definition of the sample above, is corresponding to the tenth pattern, 'Arbitrary Cycles'.

P.s.: As a matter of fact, not a few "BPM Products" are weak in [Arbitrary Cycles pattern]. It can be said because of 'negative legacy of BPEL', though I will give another chance to describe its historical background. This issue is also referred to as Unstructured Loop, and it is not uncommon in the operations that humans do. Needless to say that diagram centric BPMN designing is optimal on a consideration of human procedure, but it depends on the product if the workflow engine understands "the BPMN as it is". *Business Process Model and Notation

[Publicity Production flow:'3. Confirmation' screen]

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