Skip to Content

SOA to take on BPM

Before commencing my first blog in the BPX arena, I went through a lot of articles admiring BPM and SOA capabilities. I also got a chance to talk to a friend of mine who usually lose quite a bit of his efforts neutralizing the clients’ suspicious attitude towards both. That was in fact the time when I decided to put pen to paper (to post :)).

In an organizational perspective of a successful end-to-end business process, both BPM and SOA have proved themselves to be a key player. However, few organizations are still in dilemma whether to invest more on their SOA initiatives or to concentrate on the Business Processes. “SOA to take on BPM” – The dictionary meaning would be “opposing in a competition”.

They say SOA is better

Let us consider a situation where the SOA service provider manages to deviate the organization’s perspective to follow an SOA focused approach. Herein SOA would enable the various units operating within an organization to standardize and expose their functionalities organization-wide. Therefore, SOA has created a flexible infrastructure with various units ready to communicate over the organization’s network without any business context.

One of the shortcomings of this approach is that the various units remain ignorant of the developments at their peers. This in turn would lead to a scenario where most of the effort gets exhausted reinventing the wheel. Another drawback could be desynchronized efforts of IT and business teams to deliver the absolute solution. This arises due to lack of automated processes.

Is BPM is the ultimate solution?

Let us move on to a case where an organization is convinced that BPM outnumbers SOA returns. Here the business process specialist delivers an optimal solution with best of output based on the market situation. The organization is happy with the automated flow of their business process. In the short term, the process returns tremendous results.

However, when there is a global market paradigm shift to some new standards and models, the same organization find it difficult to cope up with the frequent changing business trends. This happens because while thinking about the so-called optimal solution, the adaptability of the business process was compromised. At that moment, the solution turned out to be highly customized disregarding the global standards.

The Hybrid outperforms


Let’s talk about a blend.  The organization declares that collaborating trends are healthier than the clashing ones. A business model is created to delegate the tasks precisely. The traditional developments are planned to be transformed into more business compliant ones. SOA is used to standardize the organizational units. The detached process silos are channelized using BPM. SOA nurse the organizational preference of an adaptable business process over an optimal one by applying global standards. BPM make sure that requirements of each unit are met and interoperability across the units is maintained by simulating the most suitable business model for the organization.

During my course of writing, an old story suddenly thumped my mind which used to send us the moral – “Unity is Strength”.

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
  • Hi Prateek,

    If I understand you well, your take would be to have a hybrid. That is, do both SOA and BPM.
    Assuming we are talking here about the IT realm I think SOA and BPM are 2 sides of the same coin. Both use units of IT functionality (the services), to be combined using integration functionality like BPM (and MDM, and messaging , and portals, and ..).

    By the way, BPM can also be considered a notion from the business realm, that monitors and controls the execution of business activities and business services.

    Together with my collegue Mendel Koerts I wrote a book about applying architecture in SAP centric organizations. It says a lot more about SOA and BPM. You can download this at Capgemini's  KM2.0 (SAP Architects community). Non Capgemini employees can request the e-book at


    Lucas Osse.

    • Thanks Lucas for your inputs.
      As mentioned in the introduction, I have seen some discussion wherein only one of the two topics is discussed. And the approaches used for a hard core implementation of one may not necessarily lead the organizations towards achieving the other. To have an in-depth view of SOA and BPM, I will surely read your content. 🙂

      As you mentioned about your SAP centric oraganizational view, I would like to get your input about my another blog mentioning the role of SAP NetWeaver as SOA and BPM enabler.
      SAP Netweaver - BPM & SOA Enabler
      And about SAP NetWeaver Capabilities
      SAP NetWeaver SOA Capabilities - An Analytical View

      Best Regards,