Business Process Management is one of the hottest topics in the fast-moving world of business analysis and enterprise application development. Yet, it is curiously difficult to pin down as a defined field of work. You don't see job listings for "Process Developer" and there are few, if any, official courses that you can take in Business Process Management.
The answer to this conundrum lies in the almost accidental way in which BPM has come about, and in the speed with which the technology marketing machine swings into action these days: usually before the technology is properly understood. Business Process Management is at the start of the "hype curve" and it will be some time before its key concepts become common currency among enterprise managers.
We will try to cut through this hype and the resultant barriers to adoption by presenting a practical step-by-step approach to the successful implementation of business process management. We won't spend a great deal of time on theory in this book; instead we will concentrate on building something of value to your business. Having said that, we won't simply throw together any old business process management system, we will advocate a project lifecycle approach, so that we implement business process management in the right way.
So what is Business Process Management anyway? Well, hopefully you are coming to this book with some idea of the answer to that question. However, Business Process Management, or BPM as we shall call it henceforth, means different things to different people. Each person's definition probably has some element that falls in the intersection of a Venn diagram of definitions, at the centre of which is the truth. One of the first things we have to do is to define what BPM means for us, so that we may set expectations about what will be achieved by reading and implementing the suggestions in this book.
This introductory chapter will lay the ground work for the rest of the book. In it, we shall cover:
The business process management approach to developing software
What a business process is and why you want to manage it
Typical business scenarios ripe for BPM
How this book will work:
The solution we'll build
Our suggested project lifecycle
Our example business scenario
Our example BPM suite