Putting the “P”(rocess) back in BPM
With every new release, SAP NW BPM is inching forward to the next level. One of the remarkable features that is available in SAP NW BPM 7.3x is the import / export of BPMN 2.0 models into process composer. While the availability of this feature is widely known, the impact that it has on the re-use of existing process models modelled in various platforms / tools is tremendous. Thanks to SAP for making this feature a part of 7.3x release as it is a good starting point towards supporting OMG’s current BPMN specification.
Many customers use various non SAP process modelling tools and have often requirements like Export bpmn 2.0 to what free viewer?. Also quite often, customers that would like to get started with BPM initiatives using SAP NW BPM have process models already built primarily in Visio or ARIS (for obvious reasons) with no real integration to a process execution engine.
So, the question is how to re-use these process models built using such non SAP tools.?
An open source solution Yaoqiang BPMN Editor comes to the rescue for converting the Visio models (.vdx) files into BPMN 2.0 models, which could then be imported into NWDS to further extend, build and create executable versions of the processes. I have used this editor to do the conversions from “.vdx” to “.bpmn20.xml” and it works like a charm. Also, the processes modelled in NWDS can be imported back into this editor for viewing / printing with better resolution. Couldn’t stop highlighting the other capabilities of this tool as it is robust and has real time process syntax checker with loads of other features as well. This editor also provides 100% support for BPMN 2.0 (It supports 53 BPMN 2.0 basic elements (Activities, Gateways, Conversations, Choreographies and pools & lanes functionality – Of course process composer in NWDS doesn’t support all of these!!! ) and is a very powerful tool for process modelling. This editor is very simple to set-up and there is absolutely no installation!. Just download the latest jar or exe file from here and you can immediately start using it. Since it is a very light weight tool, it is also well suited for business analysts to use unlike NWDS (no offence intended).
With new releases of ARIS Business Architect and Designer suites supporting the exporting of BPMN models, importing of these process models into process composer of NWDS becomes straightforward. In short, the BPMN 2.0 import / export feature in SAP NW BPM 7.3 is a very welcome feature as it removes some of the key stumbling blocks for large customers (that already have ARIS or .vdx process models) to get started with SAP NW BPM.
Wondering how it would be if the .vdx to .bpmn / .bpmn20 conversion feature is borrowed from Yaoqiang BPMN Editor and made an integral part of NWDS? Will have to wait and see if SAP moves in this direction.
After several tests it is very clear that the import feature has some issues and most of the times the “SequenceConnector” connection object gets deleted on importing BPMN 2.0 process models into process composer. For example, importing OMG’s standard BPMN 2.0 examples results in auto deletion of some of the SequenceConnectors.
Hope such issues will be resolved by SAP in the near future and the boundaries drawn across various process modelling tools would get diminished by this import / export feature and would result in “SAP NW BPM as the main process execution engine” for SAP customers.