Over the past few years it has become clear that BPM has seamlessly weaved in to the day-to-enterprise solutions; and it is here to stay. Both big or small organizations have processes and they need to be managed and managed effectively. BPM has not only shown how to manage processes but also how to deliver exemplary ROI. This has helped it diversify in to a pantheon of products/solutions such as CRM, ERP, ECM, HRMS etc.; and they are only evolving. That being said, What’s next? How and in which direction does BPM evolve? While there has been lot of speculation on where BPMers will go next; a very interesting and innovative concept has also come forward which offers a radical improvement to BPM automation in terms of simplification, development and maintenance cost-savings and re-usability; Interaction Profiling.
What is Interaction Profiling?
Interaction Profiling is an object-oriented approach to BPM. The concept focuses on the core types (profiles) of business interactions (transactions) in an enterprise processing application system. Further, it derives the corresponding, table-driven validation rules and BPM task(s) for each individual profile. Unlike existing approaches, which tend to be process/task-centric, there is no requirement for hard-coding of any validation or business processing logic. In a nutshell, Interaction Profiling simplifies the management, specification, validation control and BPM logic by identifying the transaction profiles.
What it means and what problems it could solve?
Essentially, an Interaction Profile is required for every type of interaction (transaction) that require a distinct validation rule-set or a distinct set of BPM tasks (or both in few cases). To enable an application system or to apply these profiles automatically, the criteria that defines each profile needs to be determined and stored in the application database. Each profile will have one or more attributes associated with it. In this manner, an application may contain a full set of profiles and their definitions, so that the system can determine the exact validation logic required for every individual transaction and also the specific sequence of business processes that are required to process the transaction to completion.
Typically, a BPM workflow implementation goes through the “develop-test-user acceptance phase”. Needless to say, any new implementation/integration or change requests needs to be addressed by a certain level of technical expertise. Interaction Profiling paradigm proposes to simplify the specification, management and control of the validation and BPM logic by identifying the transaction profiles – those types of transactions that require unique data content in some way and/or a unique sequence of BPM Tasks – and associating with each profile the corresponding validation rules and BPM tasks and activities.
Interaction Profiling: Real-World Implementation and the Future
As you may have realised, Interaction Profiling is still in its early stages of development. However, let’s not undermine the power, capabilities and features that it has to offer. The first real-world implementation of generic Interaction Profiling exists in a hypothetical, prototype Sales Order Processing System. In our opinion, following are some of the key findings/promises Interaction Profiling may deliver.
- It is estimated that the new paradigm will reduce development times and costs for all subsequent systems by half. This will promise faster deployment at relatively lower costs.
- On-going maintenance is estimated to be reduced at least one-third and possibly more.
- Effectively provide business-relevant control at user-definable profile levels.
- Reduce code and data redundancy as information can be recorded at the profile level.
- Operations such as transaction routing, workload balancing, monitoring, task sequencing, and bringing forward reminders will be fully automated; eliminating manual delays, errors and omissions.
- Reporting will be facilitated by intelligent filtering, including profile-based breakdowns.
While this is not a conclusive list, it certainly gives you bird’s-eye view of the application possibilities of Interaction Profiling.
Conclusion: Interaction Profiling in BPM
Interaction Profiling is a relatively new concept and is in its nascent stages. It will take some actual implementation to help us gauge the effectiveness and feasibility of this approach in real life enterprise applications. Although it is still in its early stages, the first prototype demonstrates significant potential to BPM applications among other common application systems. In conclusion, if the prototype succeeds in keeping its promises the world of BPM might soon be changing.
Please Note: The Interaction Profiling paradigm has been proposed by Barrie Gray, more details are available here.