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Business Process Blueprinting

Business Blueprinting is a well known best practice concept for exposing the process logic of SAP Business Suite applications (ERP, CRM, SCM …) and is part of general ASAP (AcceleratedSAP) methodology.  “This function documents the business processes in your company that you want to implement in the system. In Business Blueprint for Projects, you create a project structure in which relevant business scenarios, business processes and process steps are organized in a hierarchical structure. You can also create project documentation and assign it to individual scenarios, processes or process steps. You then assign transactions to each process step, to specify how your business processes should run in your SAP systems. The Business Blueprint is a detailed description of your business processes and system requirements.”

[Source: http://help.sap.com/saphelp_smehp1/helpdata/en/45/f6da633a292312e10000000a11466f/content.htm]

However, applying the best practice concept only for SAP Business Suite application is only ONE use case. In fact, you can apply the best practice concept in nearly all business process initiatives such as SAP NetWeaver BPM. Of course, many people are associating business process blueprints with SAP Solution Manager. For running implementation, upgrade or maintenance projects those business blueprints are quite often maintained with SAP Solution Manager (SOLAR transactions).

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Different types of business processes

Business Processes have different flavors with respect to their execution at runtime. Unless processes within SAP NetWeaver BPM, where the process logic is determined upfront e.g. through sequence flow, the process logic inside the Business Suite applications is very flexible. Here an example to illustrate the difference:

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Assuming the above business process has been modeled. Within SAP NetWeaver BPM, process step 3 is always executed after process step 2. Hence, each running process instance will be executed exactly according to the model. This is not mandatory true for SAP Business Suite applications! It could be that process step 3 will be executed right after process step 1. Due to some unforeseen outer circumstance, the end user reacted accordingly. It is impossible to model any possible exception path. If you try to do so, you will end up into huge process wallpapers that are not human readable anymore. However, in real world scenario you will find both approaches working. For instance, the vacation approval process can be pretty much automated and it is therefore an ideal candidate for a process engine like SAP NetWeaver BPM. The more process-built–in flexibility you want to provide, the less likely it will be to apply the “model & execute” concept for such processes.

BPMN for Business Process Blueprinting

In order to open up the business process blueprinting for other business process projects as well, SAP launched an Eclipse based tool called Business Process Blueprinting that can be considered as the central documentation for decisions while running BPM projects. The Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is gaining more and more momentum within the business and IT departments. Its usage is more intuitive than showing business scenario, business process and process step in a traditional hierarchy tree. Therefore, SAP allows customers to model business blueprints with BPMN and still to be synchronized with the content of SAP Solution Manager Projects as the repository.

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The Business Process Blueprinting tool addresses the persona of a Business Process Expert – someone who is transforming business requirement or business processes (focus on business aspects) into a solution (focus on technical realization aspects). On the other hand the SAP NetWeaver BPM is targeting the developer and/or process designer – someone who is turning the solution into executable code. Hence, the Business Process Blueprinting tool is positioned a step earlier within the development cycle.

Learn in the next blog how to re-use existing business blueprints of SAP Solution Manager Projects within SAP NetWeaver BPM.

What do you think? How crucial are business blueprints for you? Are they a corner stone within your BPM initiative?

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