First the problem statement - Typically the Line of Business (LoB) owned business processes and IT owned data/ information aspects. This would then help explain why these two key aspects were never in synch. The industry is now realizing the need for alignment between the process and the informational aspects and has created a new discipline of “Business Architecture” to encompass business process and business information.
Here the idea would be to leverage the business information flow in an optimal manner to drive business process definition, business process engineering and business process optimizations as opposed to shoe-horning this crucial business information into the business process. It must be noted that business information can take forms such as rules to transform business data, business decisions made in the context of an exception in the process, regulatory influences on a process or short-circuiting rules that enable a process to either be aborted without a detrimental effect on the process or rules for enabling a process to be completed quickly in “special business situations”. It is the access to this contextual business information that makes business process automation possible without losing the knowledge base of the subject matter experts.
A key goal of Business Architecture is to bring about the efficiencies of business process by access the right information. As was mentioned earlier, business architecture allows sharing of business information that is an enterprise asset in the context of a business process that is a LoB asset. Business architecture also helps highlight lost opportunities by drawing up scenarios where lack of business information availability (due to "not invented here complex" or lack of proper stewardship) prevents business process efficiencies from being realized. In addition, business process without the decision influencing contextual information still leaves the LoB user to make one off decisions that may be either based on invalid data or insufficient data and leads to process execution inconsistencies.
Furthermore, in an exceedingly inter-related enterprise or even extended enterprise sub-optimal decisions made in any business process leads contradictions in the rest of the enterprise. From an upstream process perspective, these lead to business strategies being interpreted erroneously. From a downstream perspective the business events being emitted by the siloed business process may have insufficient or improper information for execution leading to more exceptions in the downstream steps of the process. This may , slow down the entire business process chain having a negative impact on the business.
Another key goal of Business Architecture is to insure that the business information captured as part of Business Process Optimization efforts is consistent in its’ reporting. Here business process decisions made prior to the process reengineering efforts and after have to be captured consistently and accurately. This base line allows the study of the process efficiencies to be quantified. If the business information that is emitted in the form of business process based events is not being made available beyond the LoB process boundary then again sub-optimal process execution in the downstream steps could overturn the effects of any optimization work.
Information has to be captured consistently, emitted in a timely fashion and finally the events have be interpreted accurately to insure that the business strategy and the optimizations that are being envisioned by the business in implementing the value chain activities are in fact resulting in competitive advantage. This knowledge enables further process improvements and makes it easy to deal with business process adjustments especially when enterprise is faced with making a dramatic shift to deal with changing market conditions or regulatory conditions.
Finally, business process management, business process optimization and business activity monitoring need access to a well thought out MDM philosophy and strategic analytical marts that can be accessed via informational business services. These type of information access services can combine real time operational BI, real time business events and analytical sources to "close the informational loop"!!! Please see my whitepaper on this topic as well - Closing the Loop: Using SOA to Automate Human Interaction!!
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