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“Method to the Madness” – Bruce Silver on NetWeaver BPM

Valued BPM luminary Bruce Silver published an in-depth paper on SAP’s BPM strategy, saying he’s found “method to the madness” in his related blog entry, after seeing “a ball of confusion” initially. I have to admit that as a BPM marketeer this gave me the creeps at first glance. Is our message too convoluted? Are we looking at things too much from an application vendor’s perspective?

There’s something to these arguments, if you look at it from a standalone BPM perspective. Some BPM vendors (and some consultants) think processes embedded in packaged apps are more a burden than an asset. They are standing in the way of process flexibility and innovation, not enabling it. But reading deeper into Bruce’s analysis you’ll find remarkable insight into the benefits of deploying BPM together with standardized business apps.

Bruce writes: “Standardizing core processes across the enterprise is generally a good idea. It enhances compliance and adherence to best practices, while speeding time to implementation, and simplifying global integration.” This is then augmented by: “NetWeaver BPM is focused on composition of edge processes, i.e., those outside the scope of SAP Business Suite processes, or local variants of core applications difficult to implement by configuration alone.”

The BPM marketeer’s blood pressure is back to roughly normal now. We at SAP just have to admit that due to the breadth and depth of the business problems addressed by SAP solutions there are no simple answers to complex problems. One size does not fit all, especially when it comes down to understanding, implementing and evolving business processes in 26 diverse industries, across nearly all lines of business, around the globe.

And this is the great chance of BPM at SAP – bringing “method to the madness”, focusing on what ultimately matters – uncompromising packaged process excellence combined with cutting edge process agility tools for our customers!

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  • Harald

    Its interesting to see your initial reaction. Quite often we face the same reaction when finding out SAP has changed the name of a solution or application yet again 🙂

    Seriously, Bruce does a really outstanding job of explaining BPM and how the SAP strategy here is starting to materialise and its interesting to see the distinction between Core and Edge processes. Bruce also has business name recognition, and this is key when explaining SAP BPM to a business audience. Business people are more likely to connect with his message in a way that is slightly more intuitive than trying to connect with the message coming from an SAP Product Marketer, even when marketing a great product.

  • Harald

    It doesn’t really seem that Bruce agrees with SAP’s view of “edge” processes as the major BPM playground.

    OK, he wrote: “SAP believes that the processes subject to continual change are not the customer’s core application processes. Sometimes called edge processes, they include functionality generally outside the realm of SAP Business Suite, as well as local variations of SAP Business Suite processes that cannot be accommodated by application configuration alone.”

    Yet he clearly puts this as SAP’s belief. And his own position on the matter is better expressed few pages down: “While its initial release emphasizes edge processes, SAP is evolving NetWeaver BPM to become a common process layer for core application processes as well.”

    So please keep your blood pressure until then 🙂