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Hello Folks!

Its been approximately 2 years ago, when I first had the opportunity to work on the SAP’s offering in BPM, called SAP NetWeaver BPM tool. This tool was made available with the SAP NetWeaver Composite Environment(CE) 7.1 and 7.2 platforms. The tool was not yet production ready and was used to demonstrate its use in Business Process Modelling. The feeling among the developer community was that this will bridge the gap with the customer and become the leading choice in the BPM tool eco-space. However, in my opinion SAP NetWeaver BPM has fallen behind in the race.

BPM as a solution offering was a very good theoretical concept but was not hard-sold to the customer. Customer who is generally burdened by his existing business, needs to be persuaded by capable and confident consultants to invest in new technologies. Amid the buzz, SAP NetWeaver BPM seems to have lost to the newer technologies like WD ABAP, UI5, SUP Mobile etc. But, SAP NetWeaver BPM and its solutions seemed more on presentation rather than reality.

Now, I have no facts to prove my case and open for any criticism in this front. My opinion is guided by my interaction with various consultants in the industry and observation of the trends with customer projects. Just check the lack of activity in SDN – BPM space in comparison to others.

Every attempt to push the tool is met with resistance. The reason stated is license cost but the hidden reason is, they feel there is not much value to it. One of my project manager told, “Why should a customer invest on this BPM tool? They just don’t need it”. Actually, customer does not need SAP Business Suite. What customer needs is, a solution to manage his business. Our duty as IT consultants is to suggest the best possible way to accomplish the requirement. Now, a customer has some specific and some abstract requirements. When we are approached for implementation, we need to analyze based on experience and interaction with customer the preferred IT infrastructure to facilitate its implementation. Our view as always is more guided by our existing skills/preferences rather than the actual requirement.

During this period, I have soaked my hands with non-SAP BPM tool called inubit. A powerful tool which fulfills the needs of Business Process Modelling with help of this Business suite and Visual Rules engine. This tool in comparison with NetWeaver BPM (within the organization) had greater focus and investment. Reason: The tool is owned by separate business entity whose parent organization also owns my company.

It pains to see the lost opportunity in this space and partly its lack of effort on our part in not pursuing it the right path. It requires faith and effort in the tool to deliver solutions which not just fulfill the existing customer needs but can adapt to the possible future changes.

We need the whole set up: developers, project managers, functional consultants and sales teams to understand the value behind this concept of BPM. Only then can we convince and sell it to customers.

Critics are welcome to disprove my assessment and hopefully enlighten the BPMers with future prospects.

Thank you all.

Regards,

Sharath

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7 Comments

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  1. Jason Scott

    I Totally agree that sap’s netweaver BPM is way behind the 8-ball. I’ve blogged elsewhere how I believe its just not production-grade in the integration space. I think it peeves allot of customers off that sap have taken away ccBPM from PI and made them pay a substantial extra cost for BPM that is not very well integrated.

    I also wonder what sap’s plans are in the on-premise java space as a whole. With a very old, tired toolset and an old JEE5 implementation – are they ever going to enhance this line. It’s obviously a very poor second cousin the the cloud java paas which is “awesome”, and uses a modern toolset. To me it looks like NetWeaver java is deprecated.  ;-o

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    1. Andy Silvey

      Hi Jason and Sharath,

      I think you are both giving realistic questions.

      The SAP User Interface Road Map here  specifically page 58, gives guidance to Developers on which User Interface  technology to use, have a read and pay particular attention to the box at the bottom and the section SAP recommends !

      Best regards,

      Andy.

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    2. Sharath M G Post author

      Thank you Jason for your feedback.

      In my opinion the issue is more to do with the focus from SAP rather than the technical feasibility. NetWeaver Java is not deprecated but we are not putting it to its full use.

      If SAP can turn ABAP to WD – ABAP and turn things around then pushing tools on Java should be piece of cake.

      Hopefully, sooner rather than later SAP decides to push things forward on BPM front.

      Regards,

      Sharath

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  2. Sascha Wenninger

    Unfortunately I can’t bring anywhere close to as many facts to this debate as either yourself or Jason as I’ve not used BPM in anger, so I can only offer anecdote.

    I do agree with the overall impression you’ve both described here. While there was a lot of focus on the toolset in the early “Galaxy” days, SAP exec focus has shifted almost exclusively towards HANA and related technologies at the expense of marginal products like BPM. In Australia, BPM skills are thin on the ground as a result of very few implementations and an absence of a marketing push; this was a major influencing factor in one large SAP customer’s decision to go with TIBCO instead, and that was before even maturity and ease of development in an integration context were taken into account.

    I myself had high hopes that BPM could be shoehorned into consuming a proper level-3 RESTful API with all of the HATEOAS bells and whistles. Alas, its tight coupling to WS-* dashed even that and means that coding ABAP from scratch is actually far simpler and probably more future-proof too. And that’s quite unfortunate.

    Anyways, Sharath, I just wanted to lend my support to your point of view here.

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    1. Sharath M G Post author

      Thank you Sascha for your support.

      I find that there are offerings and roadmap set by SAP but something is holding NetWeaver BPM back.

      Partly it is consultants like me who are not yet fully clear to customers about the realistic usage of this tool. Its all good to visualize this ideal scenario where a manager tweaks the process and everything still works. But, unless we put our money(or solutions) where our mouth is the progress will be limited.

      I still have my hopes on BPM tool coming forward as the concept is fundamentally strong.

      Thank you.

      Regards,

      Sharath

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    1. Sharath M G Post author

      Thanks Andy.

      This document is really good. Nice to see the roadmap and will definitely help us hopeful BPMers.

      Regards,

      Sharath

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