We are promoting SAP ESA for almost a year now and therefore we use our 5-layer EPI (Enterprise Process Integration) model. Our model is very successfully and big SAP customers in the Netherlands adopt it. They like it because it is useable for IT managers to create a picture about the technical impact of ESA. But it is also useable for business process owners (BPO) to give their processes the right place within the ESA concept. It helps us to collect information about the different layers, the stage of implementation and the different products on each layer. We also use the model to explain SAPs approach of NetWeaver, BPP, CAF and all other initiatives. From our model is it easy to make the right steps towards an Enterprise Service Bus to give the whole of ESA the right place within an organization. The advantage of this EPI model is that it is generic and can be used to explain the possibilities. In part one of this web log we explained the model. In this second part we will give some examples how you can use it.In part three we will explain the EPI Model Approach.
The EPI Model
To collect information about the different layers, the stage of implementation and the different products on each layer we will give you an explanation.
In our ESA workshops we use the EPI model to collect information about the existing IT architecture. Mostly they ask us for a SAP issue, but to solve an integration issue we want to know more about their overall landscape and their business processes. We use the model in our workshops with for example HR and Finance business people of a big organization in the Netherlands. The participants of the workshop didnt need to have any IT background, but they could tell us about the business applications they use. During the workshop they were able to tell us which business processes caused their troubles and with what kind of tools they worked to run their business processes. For example they work with a Plumtree portal for their decentralize workers and they used pdas in their warehouses and centrally they made use of the normal SAPGUI . For the integration with their business partners they used EDI and have some integration product of IBM. Beside this information they also told us intranet and internet was used to support their business processes. At all levels reporting was implemented, within SAP and outside SAP, using Excel spreadsheets. Also some HR data was stored in Excel spreadsheets and Access databases. At the end we got a complete overview of there environment and which applications they used. We put them into the model and could start telling them about ESA.
The EPI model is useable for business process owners (BPO) to give their processes the right place within the ESA concept.
The collection of information is just a starting point to get hold of the as-is situation. From this point on we start to place the composite business process in the centre. We start to focus on a complete end-to-end process. Mostly, in the SAP world, this is done only from an application point-of-view. It isnt sufficient to focus on the collecting part. We need to look beyond the registration and reporting part in SAP. We need a higher level and we have to focus on the business process in stead of the business applications.
In the case of one of our customers we looked at the business process steps of new employees. This was a difficult part because mostly customers and consultant are used to discuss the troubles they feel from the existing applications but we want to known and oversee the complete process including manual steps and trigger points.
After we known the complete composite business process steps, we can make the translation, through the different layers, to the existing back office applications, the needed integration and roles of the presentation. In this case we can have several possibilities: 1. The process step is only manual 2. The process step is fully automated 3. The process step is time critical 4. The process step is implemented within one backend application. 5. More then one backend application or manual step is involved within this process step. 6. The complete business process isnt or is partly monitored 7. The complete business process is adequately monitored
If two following process steps within a business process use different applications, exchange of information is needed. This gives the exchange layer an important role and we need the composite layer to control the overall process. The complete business process should be controlled by a central system. This system will trigger the business process owner or another authorized person to take an appropriate action so the business process can continue in the way it should.
If a complete composite business process is implemented, triggers and starting points are also a part of this implementation. In most back office applications, user input is the starting point of the registration process. In some case the process is triggered by a workflow or an external signal. With composite business processes it is important to known the starting points of each individual process step. This could be a previous step but also other composite business process. Each process raises a trigger event, which will start the next process steps and sometimes other processes.
When the applications and the trigger points are known, we will focus on the presentation layer. We created a model to separate this layer into more sub layers. We call this model our presentation-dartboard. In the centre we put the centralized processes used by the back office. The surrounding circles will be decentralized processes. The first circle will represent the processes used by the internal employees; the second circle the external employees and third circle your partners, like customers and vendors and finally the fourth circle represent the outside world.
Every process step has to be placed within the right dartboard circle. The following questions should be answered. What will be the impact if we put this step in a different circle? Will this create new or delete existing process steps? Will this lower the costs? Are there standard user interfaces for this layer? How often will this process step be used? Etc. All this questions will give an overview of the needed parts of the presentation layer.
When we return to the process steps we will look at every step and see which persons and roles are involved. We also have to keep the presentation-dartboard in our mind. Based on this approach we can choose the right user presentation from a people centric point-of-view. We also will advise about the roles needed into a portal when we put all business processes together. Using our models we will advise to use as much as possible standard applications or to do some custom developments if really needed.
We believe the EPI model aligns Business and IT in the right way by using our butterfly approach with in the centre the EPI model as the heart.
Theo Bolta is a Netweaver Solution Architect for NL for Business