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While at a Gartner conference a number of weeks ago, I heard the following: “At times the relationship between the IT organization and the business units it supports can be downright hostile”. I also heard, “in a recent survey of CEOs, there was an indication that IT was perceived as the biggest inhibitor of change”. From an IT perspective, I can well imagine: “thems fight’in words”.

I would say that here in SDN, the community has certainly not acted with any out and out “hostility” to the appearance of the nascent BPX community, nor has there been overtly negative response to the conversations that are evolving in the /community [original link is broken].

But already the question arises as to whether there are two separate communities now housed under the roof of SDN: the Developer Community and the Business Process Expert Community.

One need only look at this What is a SDN topic and what is a BPX topic? to see that the debate is already on.

I’m fairly certain that there exist many successful models out there for how IT and Business collaborate. The interaction between the Business Process Expert Community and the SAP Developer Network could very well serve as one of them.

After interviewing a good number of folks at Sapphire and being at the receiving end of cumulative intelligence gathered by many of my colleagues concerning the role of the business process expert, I’d like to share with you some thoughts about this evolving new community, paraphrased from Thomas Volmering, an expert in the Business Process Management arena and Senior Product Manager for SAP NetWeaver BPM (you can check out his many blogs and articles on the subject of Business Process Management, under his contributions, by the way).

He said something like this:

“If our approach is role-based, that doesn’t necessarily mean incorporating the entire context of the SAP Developer Network into the Business Process Expert Community. If we wish to create for the Business Process Experts the same kind of community that we have built for the Developers on SDN we probably need to make this clear content delineation:

In the BPX realm we can deliver content for:

  • Methodology
  • Process
  • Value Engineering
  • In the SDN environs we already deliver content concerning:

  • Tools
  • Coding
  • Software Engineering

With that thought of Thomas’ in mind, I began to make a “checklist” of the artifacts that might be useful for our Business Process Experts based on much of what I have heard these last few weeks/months.

Some of my BPX list of community content includes:

  • Business case studies
  • Process design models
  • Discussions of change management, governance, risk, and compliance
  • Business and process rules implementation examples

I guess the challenge we now face is how to create active collaboration between the communities while retaining the unique “persona” of each of these communities…(developers and business process experts) all the while providing the appropriate contents to folks who represent very different roles.

I think there’s lots of opportunity here, as well as challenge. If there is an “IT/Business Divide”, what better way to bridge it than by communication, and what better form of communication than collaboration….and collaboration is exactly what you can find on SDN/BPX.

And speaking of collaboration, meet: image Audrey Weinland, the content strategist for the Business Process Expert Community Pages. Audrey and I collaborate to bridge the divide between formal content and community-contributed content. Audrey is responsible for gathering articles, white papers, learning objects, and formal content that grace the BPX pages, from internal and external experts and practitioners.

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  1. Piers Harding
    Hi Marylin – this kind of thing strikes a cord with me – possibly on several notes (if not tangents).

    I find the “division of responsibilities” outlined in the quote from Thomas interesting in terms of how   people from the business seem to view those from the  technology groups:
    “In the BPX realm we can deliver content for:
    # Methodology
    # Process
    # Value Engineering

    In the SDN environs we already deliver content concerning:
    # Tools
    # Coding
    # Software Engineering “

    These broad catergorisations seem to take stock of the most  polarised activities that the two groups of professionals perform, but I’d like to counter this sterio-typing with two things:

    1) when I started out as a programmer in a mainframe environment a developer was a programmer and only a programmer, and would never do any design work, or interaction with thie business.  Now, in todays IT world – a developer is required not only to program (the smallest part of the task) but to articulate, model, design, implement, test, document, and deliver a business requirement.  In short – a developer of today, is part programmer, systems analyst, business analyst, change manager, documenter and trainer.

    2) SDN is not just pitched at people with a penchant for programming – it seems to me to have plenty of credible content, and discussion for all strata of IT including Technical Architects, who in truth are arguably twin siblings of BPX bods.

    My question is – is there really a lot to be gained by trying too hard to delineate the content, or construct divisions between the groups, when I think that there is so much common ground between them?

    Nice blog – Thanks.
    Piers Harding.

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  2. Mark Frear
    I found the discussion on 2 communities at odds with the notion that the outcome of both should be the same – ie business benefit this year or over the next 5 years.

    I have witnessed many many discussions in the technical arena around technology and especially standards. But lots of arguments fail when they come to business outcomes – hence I think they are hiding / even running scared because they cannot see the benefit or articulate it. A BPX may be able to help them bridge the divide but in end we are here for business outcomes not for example standards compliance!

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    1. John Skrabak
      Sometimes this seems like a left-brain, right -brain discussion, or perhaps tactical vs strategic viewpoint.

      Seems like SDN has established itself as filling a need for some interest areas, why should others remain “lost in the woods”.  When people find freeware that helps them accomplish something quicker, better than they could without it, they will usually take that path. 

      I really look at SDN as a toolset – a web service – ask a question, get an answer….. 

      Are we getting hung up on semantics – SAP “Developers” Network? 

      In Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Clarke’s “2001, A Space Oddesey”, had the apes first debated the use of who should use the tools and for what purpose, where would be? 

      http://www.kubrick2001.com/   

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      1. Marilyn Pratt Post author
        Hmm…I tried to followed your excellent-sounding thought process and link and saw the little saga of http://www.kubrick2001.com to its end (okay, during my break).
        Thanks, it was fun and interesting.
        What struck me, isn’t so much the semantics, but rather what happens when we get so tool-oriented we forget the “human story”.  That seems to be the moral of that tale.
        Maybe there are some humans who have evolved into being the maintenance guys for the tool. (like in this clip and in the Odyssey)  How odd! The tool rules.  Its all about tools for them.  So is SDN a toolset or a community?  Are we just about using people? And does that answer apply to the Business Process eXpert Community?
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        1. John Skrabak
          Toolset or community – yikes, way to heavy for a Friday (here in Pennsylvania).

          I guess it probably satisifes both purposes. Some people join organizations so they can put it on their resume, or to influence an agenda. Other people just want to help others and grow personally.

          That’s it in a nutshell!

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