Two years ago, BPM was more of a hypothetical discussion in the SAP community. Fast forward two years, and that’s changed dramatically. There are now extensive BPM resources on SCN. There’s also a BPM use case wiki on SCN where customers are documenting their project experiences with BPM in an SAP context.
In this SAP BPX Community Podcast, we take a closer look at these trends with Rao Subbarao, who has worked extensively with BPM on customer projects and in his role as the chair of the ASUG BPM Architecture Group. Rao is joined by SAP’s Greg Chase, who has been an active force in spurring on the development of BPM resources on the SAP Community Network. During the 15 minute podcast, we talk about how the SAP BPM conversation has evolved, what steps a company needs to take to succeed in their BPM initiative, and how to get involved with the BPM conversation on SCN.
On a personal note, this podcasts ends three years of producing professional podcasts for SAP Community Network with Jon Reed of JonERP.com for me. As I have moved on to a new role in SAP, helping our company develop best practices for social media marketing, I’d like to thank Jon and all of the wonderful people who have participated in our podcasts. I hope to work with you in my new capacity! SAP Community Network is a wonderful destination with bright and kind members.
1:10 Jon to Greg: What is the current state of BPM on BPX? Greg: What’s interesting about the BPM conversation is how it’s changed. A couple years ago, BPM was a hot buzzword outside of SAP circles but it was new to the SAP Community. But with the release of SAP’s tools for BPM, including NetWeaver BPM and Launched of the ASAP Business Add-ons built on updated ASAP Methodology, which has now been revised to be more BPM-oriented, that’s led SAP customers to become more interested in BPM. Customers are not just asking what BPM is anymore, but looking at how BPM enables them to solve business problems and achieve that in an agile manner.
2:25 Greg: With the BPM use case wiki on SCN, you can really get a clear sense of how to apply BPM application by lifting out specific examples of BPM in action from each use case. By showing how you apply BPM to specific areas, you can achieve some remarkable implementations quickly. So we can solve white space issues that are not easily solved by traditional SAP applications. We have over 30 use cases on the wiki – customers can treat this as a guide for what they can use BPM for. BPM gets interesting when you start getting very specific. One example: we’ve spent time documenting how to apply BPM approaches to the issue of information governance. Examples would be the creation of customer or supplier master data, and take what would be traditionally an IT responsibility and turn it into a business-driven project using BPM tools.
4:50 Jon to Rao: How did you get involved in BPM when you were working at Hospira? Rao: Recently, Hospira took a close look at our approach to process management. We developed a partnership between IT and business, and Hospira realized that without a BPM approach, they would not be able to succeed in their process optimization work. As Greg mentioned, BPM is multi-faceted, that means design, discipline, and execution, and you have to accomplish all those aspects to be successful.
6:30 Jon to Rao: You’ve said that “BPM is a journey.” So how do you get started in the BPM journey? Rao: IT leaders must understand that the purpose of information technology is to serve the business goals and make the business successful. A company-wide BPM strategy and definition must be articulated. IT needs to understand what success means to the business and how they can use the tools and technologies at their disposal to help the business achieve that. At Hospira, we had a roadmap that we followed to move from process modeling to execution. Having said that, an organization should undergo a collaborative process to define the timeframes to help the architects define each step the business needs to get where they want to go with BPM.
8:35 Jon to Rao: How did BPM discussions on SCN help you and Hospira in your work? Rao: When you start this BPM journey, you tend to have a lot of questions, such as which process framework to use, or whether to use ARIS or not. This is where the community come in. Rather than re-invent the wheel, the community has a plethora of knowledge. We tapped into ASUG and SCN and shared knowledge and experience. We also worked with SAP Mentors around the globe to figure out how to incorporate SAP Solution Manager and ARIS into our BPM initiative. We also tapped into the ASUG communities in Business Process Architecture and BPM, and this gave us a 360 degree view.
10:25 Jon to Rao: What would you say to an SAP customer who was skeptical about sharing information or not clear on how to get started? Rao: With Hospira, we were in a similar situation in the health care industry, where privacy of data is crucial. But it’s not about sharing your private business issues, it’s about discussing the overall BPM topics you’re addressing, and you can best gain that knowledge while sharing and participating in the community.
11:35 Jon to Rao: You’ve said that BPM requires a company to undergo changes to embrace it – what needs to change and can SCN influence that process? Rao: BPM is not just tools and technologies – the tools and technologies enable the process. The project team has to evolve in such as way that arhitects understand the industry, the business culture, and the changing dynamics with customers and suppliers. When Hospira began their BPM journey, we took a look at where we were with our BPM processes. Then we defined where we needed to be. We approached it as an organization-wide effort.
13:15 Greg to Rao: How has the BPM conversation changed in ASUG over the last couple years? Rao: ASUG is very vertically focused historically, but now ASUG is taking a look at end-to-end processes and the discipline that is needed to enable that, regardless of what industry the business is in. The question becomes: how do we architect the business the right way, and how can we help the business succeed with process knowledge – this discussion has grown within ASUG and the SAP community as a whole.
14:50 Greg to Rao: This change in view from module-centric to process-centric is a recurring theme for both customers and SAP? How do you approach it? Rao: that’s a great question, while I was at Sapphire this year, I had similar conversations with folks at SAP. SAP is looking at application components now as part of an overall process chain. More and more solutions are done from that perspective.
15:45 Jon to Greg: How can users who are new to BPM get involved? Greg: One great first step is to check out some of the blogs in the SAP BPM category on SAP BPX. There is Ann Rosenberg’s prior book, The BPM roadmap, and one that will be coming out around TechEd time, Real World BPM in an SAP Environment. Both of those are a great start for learning about BPM and applying it. Finally, get involved in the community, get involved in the forums, and send comments to BPM bloggers and Mentors and get into the BPM conversation!