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Introduction

Lately, there has been a lot of discuss about a Business Process Expert. In this BLOG, I will give an example of a business scenario and the role of the business process expert within this scenario. Keep in mind that this is an example and part of the overall responsibilities of a BPX.

What is a BPX?

This first question that comes up is what is a BPX? This is addressed in Mario Herger’s BLOG located at:
What is a Business Process Expert, Really?
In addition, you can get information in Helen Sunderland’s BlOG: Days in the Life:   Situation Analysis from the point of view of a BPX

What does a BPX do?

The BPX has 3 primary responsibilities:

1. Identifies Business Scenarios

  • BPX is responsible for determining the general transactional flow and how systems can support this process.
  • BPX is responsible for determining the business rules for taking action (i.e how do we identify slow sales)
  • BPX is responsible for providing a framework for resolving issue (i.e. should manufacturing be halted?)
  • 2. Understands Business Objects and Identifies Services Needed for Scenarios

  • BPX is responsible for understanding the business objects and data
  • BPX is responsible for being aware of the services that exist to get information
  • BPX is responsible for working with the application developer to have new services built to support business processes
  • 3. Change Management/Project management/Process Adoption

  • BPX is responsible for communicating with the busines son change management to provide a more wholistic view of the business
  • BPX is responsible for some project management, such as identifying key stake holders in a given process (ie. process owner, line manager, external customer, vendor, etc…)
  • BPX is responsible for getting the key stake holders to agree on a process
  • Once the BPX identifies a Business Scenario, he needs to build this business process using a process oriented tool such as Visual Composer or ARIS. These process oriented tools will utilize services that are registered in the Enterprise Service Repository.

What enables this to work?

In one word: E-SOA. Due to Enterprise Services becoming mainstream, a BPX can focus on business processes without having to worry about overly technical issues. The BPX first needs to understand the business objects available as having a firm understanding of the data is vital. Because the Enterprise Service Oriented Architecture has an Enterprise Service Repository, the BPX has a single place to go to look for services he may need in his or her model. If a service doesn’t exist, the BPX will engage the Application Developer to build a service.

Common Business Scenario

The job of a BPX is to identify business scenarios. Here is an example of an analytical scenario. Using Product Lifecycle Management as the business context, let us begin by examining how to make informed and timely decisions that translate to reduced costs and maximized profits. An overview of the scenario is as follows.
First, we need to define our turnover targets thresholds. This is typically something a BPX would do as the BPX should have a firm grasp of the business requirements. Next, we classify materials as either A, B, or C by using the ABC Classification available in the SAP data mining toolset. In this scenario, the SAP data mining toolset would be called via enterprise services. The APD (Analytical Process Designer) can store the classifications as an attribute of the material InfoObject (0MATERIAL). We now want to take action on our C items. When turns are low, we have a few options. We need to find out why turns are low. Reasons can range from low sales or overstocked inventory. To take action, we first need to evaluate the best course. We can use the power of Decision Trees to analyze whether the problem is due to low stock or low sales. Our Decision Tree will have rules as follows defined in Figure 1.1.
A generalization is as follows:
1. If the sales are low, turns are low, and profit is low. Should we discontinue the material?
2. If the sales are high and turns are low, what action should we take to increase or decrease the production or inventory in the correct locations?
In addition, when you move inventory between locations, you will want to minimize freight costs. The job of the business process expert is to identify this business scenario. In addition, the BPX will need to identify what services he needs to get this information. For example, to minimize freight, you may need the following services:


1. Service from trucking companies that are available

  • Fedex
  • Schneider Trucking
  • National Trucking
  • 2. Service for Mileage

  • Google Maps
  • Mappoint
  • 3. Service from SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management

  • Master data for your customers
  • Shipfrom and Shipto Cities
  • 4. Services for BI/ERP Data

  • Transactions from SAP R/3
  • Transactions from SAP NetWeaver BI
  • Service to run Analytical Process Designer (may need application developer to build this)…
  • This scenario is desribed in Figure 1 below. The objects in yellow are services that are needed to model this business scenario.
    Figure 1 – Business Process
    image
    If the services aren’t available, the BPX will work tell the Application Developer that he needs services built. The Application Developer can build these services and register them in the Enterprise Service Repository. The BPX will then get the services from the Enterprise Service Repository. Eventually, the BPX will know which services are available and will be able to build applications more readily as he will already be aware of common services that he reuses.

Working together?

To make this happen, the role of the application developer is still very important, as the BPX may not be aware of the services that are available. Typically, the Application developer will register these services within the Enterprise Service Repository. Eventually, the BPX will be aware of all the services that are available.

What is the future?

As time goes on, the BPX will become familiar with the services in the ESR and build their own applications with tools such as Visual Composer. They can then approach the application developers for new services which are reusable for their applications!

Next part of BLOG:

Within the next blog in this series, I’ll discuss details on a methodology for a BPX to determine and outline business processes. I’ll also discuss a methodology for the BPX to find and identify services for use in their business models. Eventually, I’ll outline a methodology for how business process experts can work with application developers, so stay tuned… In addition, we will have some discussions on some of the aspects of change management and process adoption. Please give feedback to the following questions to help me focus on what the next blog should be…

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6 Comments

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  1. Andre Truong
    Just out of curiosity, I would be interested in the process that led you to this. Because this is all new, I’m wondering what sources (information, people, projects…) did you use to formulate your thoughts? As you’re working for SAP, maybe you’re part of a working group or an initiative that support the development of the BPX concept.
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    1. Prakash Darji Post author
      Actually, I’m not really involved in the formulating of the BPX concept. My background initially started in manufacturing on the business side, so in the past, I was a BPX. I worked a lot on IT projects to help support the “Operations Planning” group that I was in. At SAP, I was first a consultant, where I was then involved directly in IT projects and was the application consultant/developer. Currently, I’m working in SAP Labs as part of development to get customer adoption of SAP NetWeaver 2004s as well as providing development feedback for the next version of SAP NetWeaver.

      So the long and short of it is YES, these thoughts are coming directly from my experience out at customers and within SAP. At SAP, we’ve got a big initiative right now to make all our software based on a Service Oriented Architecture. When I initially heard about this initiative, it was very fuzzy to me. I really didn’t understand why we were moving to a service oriented architecture or what the benefits of that were. Over time, I realized that on projects, I was generally having to know a lot about the business and about Application development (such as ABAP coding and JAVA coding). The reality was that it was very hard for me to keep up with both sides (know many business processes well such as CRM, TPM, FI, PP, MM, etc. as well as IT development). Therefore, I started thinking about the segmentation of duties. A truly service oriented architecture will help separate these roles a little bit and people can focus on what they are really good at. Therefore, when I was able to use web services within Visual Composer to solve the problem of how to get the best freight when shipping goods, I thought it was a great example to share. In upcoming blogs, I’ll actually go through the implementation of this scenario. I’ll provide the Source code for the applications that make this process work as well as provide the process oriented Visual Composer model. This inventory turns and freight scenario has been something that came up repeatedly while I was consulting. In the past, it was difficult to model this whole scenario. As you see the the diagram though, using external services and internal SAP services, you can do this very easily! Hope that helps! What would you like to see me focus on for the followup to this? Are you interested in implementing this scenario, or would you rather have more discussion about the roles and responsibilities of a BPX?

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  2. Phil Gleadhill
    Hi,
    Thanks for this – its a useful example of the way of thinking around designing a services based solution. The only hitch being that service enabled applications would need to be in place for this thinking to be put into practice.

    It would be interesting to take this example to the next steps, and actually show the modelling of, and the integration/buildoing of this design across the application suite required to run it, end-to-end.

    The required modelling and execution tool capabilities from SAP/ARIS other vendors would be intersting to see.

    Thanks again,
    Phil G.

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    1. Prakash Darji Post author
      In the next blog, I’ll actually show how to build this with Visual Composer and use these services. These services already exist and I’ve already built an application similar to this using these services, so we’re already there. You’d be surprised how many web services exist today to provide this type of information.
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