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Sandy Kemsley and I spent an interesting hour discussing SAP BPM with  Wolfgang Hilpert.

SAP has recently announced and previewed 7.2 of their Netweaver BPM  product (as discussed by Sandy here). While this  release was  really focused recently on improving modeling with BPMN there are a  number of other improvements:

  • Creating user interfaces based on these processes has got easier too, with  better integration with the UI design tools and auto-generation of first cut  user interfaces.
  • Supporting intermediate events so that asynchronous operations that take  place in core applications, for instance, can be correlated so that processes  that were waiting for those events can then continue. The new event  infrastructure for the core business applications allows the events within the  business applications to be selectively exposed to the BPM environment.
  • Improved integration with the SAP business applications – making it easier  to find and use enterprise services from the business suite. A search console  provides semantically rich search for traditional SAP BAPIs or new enterprise  services and then these can be dragged into the BPM environment. The support for  BAPIs means that traditional SAP installations, non-SOA enabled ones, can adopt  BPM to link these together and extend them.
  • And, obviously, much more support for rules in this release (see my SAP Netweaver Business Rules overview) including rule flow, verification, rule effectivity,  independent deployment, test case development with XML, integration of Excel for  decision tables and so on.
  • A business friendly “sketch” of a process can be supported so that business  users can work on a process without having to see all the technical details of  the process. This is very complementary to the rules piece which also allows the  technical details of the data structure to be kept hidden behind a more chatty  perspective.
  • Dashboards and analytics can be developed, using Business Objects tools and  the new reporting activity, to bring together process context/execution  information and operational data. As you define the reporting activity you can  bring in data from the business suite and then use this context to develop what  you need.

Collaboration at both design and runtime (as discussed with Blogger roundtable with SAP Research) came up and this is clearly an area where SAP sees much potential  and much to do. Pushing the tools for BPM and BRM further up into the business  so that people are more author/contributor/doer than just doers. Goal-driven  processes are another area of interest as is a continued investment in making it  easier to bring the SAP business suite into the BPM environment. Analytics is an  area also, moving operational BI forward.

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