Along the Business Processes to Enterprise SOA

Feature Article | July 12, 2006 by admin

Nowadays, SAP customers want to implement all the key processes in their enterprise using standard solutions wherever possible. At the same time, they are faced with the question of how far these let them react flexibly to changes in their business. On the other hand mySAP ERP 2005, for example, not only contains the highly integrated ERP core but also SAP NetWeaver, which already enables enterprises to integrate other IT easily with SAP NetWeaver Portals and SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (SAP NetWeaver XI). Furthermore, with the SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) the common processing of data from heterogeneous systems is possible, providing a “single point of truth.”
All new applications from the software manufacturer are also systematically moving towards SAP’s enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA). For instance mySAP ERP 2005 contains numerous functionalities as additional Enterprise Services, for example goods receipt processing. Put very simply, Enterprise Services are comprehensive web services including the business logic.
In enterprise SOA, the more flexible interaction of Enterprise Services and other services – such as those developed by the customer or provided by other manufacturers – are replacing the rigid processes of today’s monolithic systems. Thus success-critical business processes can be handled in a uniform way across the whole enterprise, even in a heterogeneous environment. At the same time, the flexibility of the enterprise increases over the long term as it is able to change processes easily by adapting individual services or the rules for how they interact.

Business comes first!

There is a simple answer to the question of when and where an enterprise should start with enterprise SOA: Business comes first! Because what is even the greatest IT system worth if it doesn’t help the enterprise to move forward? Before implementation, the effect of enterprise SOA on the business processes must therefore first be evaluated, which is what the business process management concept does. As the Delphi Group states in its Market Milestone Report BPM 2003: “In future, the use of so-called Enterprise Services will enable companies to achieve a maximum level of IT integration and flexibility, but without BPM it is no longer possible to develop an executable IT system.”
Today, one cannot conceive of implementing IT systems, in particular, without BPM. BPM and SOA together can revolutionize how business applications are used, because the combination of the two concepts closes the gap between the business process models in the user departments and the data and program models of the IT departments. Processes in the software solutions are then modified, optimized, and controlled from a business perspective. Based on the business process model, the corresponding services are identified and combined in a new way, if necessary. While SOA ensures that all technical requirements to integrate processes and systems are met, BPM enables the effective and efficient interaction between the services.

Moving in new directions

AVE for SAP – Roadmap

AVE for SAP – Roadmap

It might not seem easy to move away from the conventional methods towards real process orientation, because most organizations are still functionally-constituted. But when changing to enterprise SOA, new procedures must be applied to create and maintain software solutions anyway, which offers the opportunity of systematically seeking out benefits along the processes, rather than simply implementing enterprise SOA as a technology. With ARIS Value Engineering for SAP (AVE for SAP), IDS Scheer offers a suitable, BPM-based method for this. AVE for SAP can be used comprehensively, both to optimize complete value chains and to implement IT systems. The “for SAP” suffix is testament to IDS Scheer’s many years of experience with the SAP solutions and the deep integration of the ARIS tools in the SAP software. The method can therefore be smoothly interlinked with the applications. Thus the methods applied in the strategy and design phases – for example, an analysis of the key success factors in the business areas, i.e. classic management consulting – provide decisive support for the work in the implementation phase.

Work packages

Work packages

It is key to focus on end-to-end processes, such as order-to-cash. The subprocesses, for example the procedures in the distribution center, are evaluated in the second step to determine the extent to which they improve the process as a whole. The evaluation is based on defined key figures, coming from SAP BW for example. Only promising scenarios are earmarked for implementation and outlined in a business case. The processes are first designed neutrally, but then enhanced with concrete SAP content. Enterprises that already run SAP solutions can use the ARIS Redocumentation Solution, ARIS BI Modeler, and ARIS Process Performance Manager tools to extract process models and key figures from the applications and use these directly as the basis for configuration.

A view of the complete organization

ARIS for SAP NetWeaver is used in every AVE for SAP project. The tool exchanges models with SAP Solution Manager, SAP Netweaver XI, and – in the new SAP Business Process Platform (SAP BPP), in which ARIS is the BPM modeling tool – with the Enterprise Services Repository (ESR). ARIS completes the view of the organization and key figures as well as process steps that are supported by non-SAP systems. For SMEs, industry-specific reference processes add considerable value by shortening the time required for implementation, among other things. In addition, AVE for SAP enables an enterprise to plan directly its entry into the world of enterprise SOA, as the end-to-end processes in ARIS are available at all analysis levels – from the strategy through to the implementation view. Any variants used are also shown, as are process steps that are currently not supported by IT systems. This helps to identify potential “service candidates.”

Consistent view

Consistent view

AVE for SAP always provides a consistent picture, from the strategy through to the current system. All documentation is stored in ARIS for SAP NetWeaver and SAP Solution Manager, which provides users with a detailed view right through to the transaction or service at any time. Thanks to performance measurement with ARIS Process Performance Manager (ARIS PPM), the executed actual processes are displayed in aggregated form and their performance is evaluated. This information enables an enterprise to improve its processes continuously and directly.

Every way is unique . . .

. . . which is why there is the enterprise SOA adoption program, a joint service offered by SAP and IDS Scheer. It combines classic AVE workshops with in-depth knowledge about enterprise SOA, particularly in relation to the industry-specific factors of the enterprise. These workshops evaluate the realistic potential offered by a changeover to enterprise SOA, among other things. They also identify possible candidates for the use of initial services, and outline their technical implementation. A customer-specific schedule based on the company’s “fitness” for enterprise SOA indicates when the potential can be achieved most efficiently.
It has repeatedly been shown that a good implementation is measured by its quality, not by its speed. And quality itself can best be determined by the processes achieved. In the area of SOA, in particular, it is clear that in reality the decisive factor is not the implementation of technology but the attainment of improved processes.

Carsten Jörns

Carsten Jörns

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