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Getting Started with Business Process Management (BPM)


Traditionally, Business Process Management (BPM) has been perceived as pided into two distinct 'functions':

  • BPM as a management discipline that helps business organizations to standardize and continueously optimize operational processes that have the largest impact on achieving corporate performance goals
  • BPM as a technology (or software product) providing IT organizations with a framework of tools to model, deploy and execute processes that include human and system tasks (as, e. g., workflows) or that span across different business applications and require a broad set of integration capabilities (as, e. g., messaging, transformation, adapter technology; known as EAI – Enterprise Application Integration).

Business Process Management (BPM) operates with three main activity categories: Process Design, Execution and Monitoring.

What is a Business Process?

While technically a business process is defined as set of linked activities that creates value by transforming an input into a more valuable output, SAP differentiates a business process further into two basic subprocess types:

  • Application Core ProcessesRepresent the core business functionality that runs the business operations. These are delivered via SAP‘s business application as part of the SAP Business Suite. These processes are predefined, packaged and can be customized in applications such as SAP ERP, PLM, SCM, CRM or SRM.
  • Composite Business ProcessesAre driven by functional business requirements and specifications and their primary goal is to provide added business value on top or at the edge of a stable core. They are either human-centric (collaborative) or system-centric (integration process).Where application core processes represent business process best practices, composite business processes are next practices that can evolve into application core over time. Composite business processes need to enable business process composition, providing ad-hoc capabilities for quick and flexible reaction towards changes in business or critical business events in out-of-bound situations. For more information see the Composite Processes.
  • Integration processesAre executable, cross-system processes for processing messages and automating the message flow within the context of a service orchestration. In an integration process the process steps and step types are either message flow oriented (e.g., send, receive) or control flow oriented (e.g., fork, switch, wait).Follow this link to the full online documentation on integration processes: Integration Processes (ccBPM)

BPM needs to take into account the above mentioned sub-process types. Composition and integration provide competitive differentiation by composing new processes and applications and integrating them with business partners and legacy systems. Applied business process flexibility with support of process debugging, simulation, embedded change management and the principle of “process design as a process” are the higher art of process management that BPM capability needs to provide.

Key Questions and SAP Solutions

Which business problems can you solve today?

  • Manage Business Tasks across Applications (SAP and non SAP)
  • Business Process Integration / Automation
  • Involve Business Users in Automated Processes (“Manage by exception”)
  • Application Workflow Management (Workflow automation in the context of business applications)

How SAP helps to solve these business problems today?

  • Cross-Component BPM (ccBPM)Delivered with SAP NetWeaver Process Integration. Handles processes where the message flow between different business applications is dependent on several messages or on time and business actions or reactions. ccBPM also supports handling of system exceptions and alerting. More on Integration Processes (ccBPM)... For more information about SAP NetWeaver Process Integration, see the SOA Middleware page.
  • SAP Business WorkflowEmbedded in the heart of the SAP solutions, so that SAP applications (including CRM, SRM and ERP) are built on it to incorporate workflow features directly in their application. SAP applications deliver a rich set of workflow templates that can be implemented as part of the customizing activities in the implementation project. Integration with Organizational Management and with standard SAP reporting tools allows reusing the investment that customers have made in SAP solutions. More on SAP Business Workflow...
  • Universal Worklist (UWL)The UWL helps to reduce the number of inboxes and training for these without compromising with the user’s style or the supplemental information the specialist requires. It provides Central Access to Tasks.

The layers of integration process, embedded workflow and task list can be seamlessly integrated to cover process automation with human call-outs, as well as application embedded workflow automation.

The Evolution of Business Process Management

In today’s business world, innovation and strategic business transformation require new methods and software products to differentiate organizations from their competition. Therefore, the next generation of business best practices requires an integrated, holistic perspective on business process management.BPM addresses the following customer challenges:

  • Growing business as well as competition requires a gear shift in innovation. Main challenges which need to be addressed and solved through BPM are lack of transparency, productivity, automation and efficiency, as well as lack of process flexibility. Meaningful data about processes, business activities and events should be accessible and not hidden in disconnected silos of applications or in single IT workarounds.
  • To free up all potential forces, organizations have to get process oriented, including a mind-shift in the understanding of business and IT roles and functions. Thorough process analysis is needed for in-depth understanding of the core processes that have been standardized in the past, or that need to be further standardized in current or future global and local markets.

The Evolution of BPM in the Context of Enterprise SOA

vA new bread of business and IT professionals, concerned with working jointly on overcoming these challenges - the Process Architect and Business Process Expert. A room for collaborative modeling environment should be opened in order to drive process changes flexibly from business to IT by means of comprehensive change management.

Both Business and IT should be equally involved in creating together common process repository, process governance, and identifying ways for mapping business services, as well as identifying their specific backbones for process automation.

The Evolution towards a Common Process Layer

The next generation of Business Process Management will be delivered within the SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE) to fully support composite business processes. As an evolution of multiple process layers catering to different needs, this will evolve into a common design- and runtime layer for business processes catering the needs for developers, process architects as well as business process experts.

For more information about the SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment see the Composition page.

For the application core processes, the common process layer uses SOA artifacts (e.g. web services) that provide deep semantic integration based on process models. Here process component models are exposed as BPMN-based processes with defined extension points for enhancing the core process. The common process layer will provide process-oriented “business add-ins” for process composition without touching the business application logic itself.

Harmonizing design and runtime, the common process layer will enable customers to leverage common runtime services and a central design time in BPMN both for human-centric and system-centric process modeling in a homogenous environment.

The Value Proposition of Enterprise BPM

SAP believes that the highest value of Business Process Management will be achieved via semantic integration into service-based business applications.

This paradigm starts with leveraging the Enterprise Services Repository (ES Repository) for SOA Design Governance, which goes hand-in-hand with a process oriented approach towards the companies’ business architecture. Business Process Composition with collaborative process design elevates single aspects of process management towards holistic process management, facilitating business innovation via composition.

The highest art of process management includes human interaction management to explicitly manage business tasks in a process context, as well as actionable process analysis to drive business process optimization based on real-time process data.


How do SAP BPM Capabilities solve the most pressing customer challenges?

Through business process transparency, fragmentation and flexibility:

  • Provide an integrated toolset for all types and dimensions of business processes
  • Enable process flexibility through ES Repository and semantic integration into applications
  • Enable business experts to drive innovation and process optimization

Multiple Views on a Single Version of the Truth – the Process Domain Model

One model – different views: from Concept to code

The ultimate goal of process collaboration is to provide a smooth elevator ride between the various layers of abstraction. Instead of transforming business level models to the execution and working in different repositories catering for different skill sets concerned with the process definition, multiple users (performing different tasks in process modeling) work in one environment with different views (perspectives) of the domain model (physical process model stored in the data base).

Focus of the right procedural model to align business requirements with IT implementations is to define the right 'pins through the IT sandbox’ as a contract between business and IT.


Platform technology needs to enable business process management from model-to-execution, relying on advanced methodology and design governance along with business process models on different levels. BPM provides sustainable value to organizations that strive for capabilities beyond disparate tools for single purposed projects (either discipline oriented or technology focused). Deep semantic integration into the world of business applications provides the foundation for this value proposition.

BPM for Business Network Transformation

BPM enables organizations to reuse application building blocks, standardize their core business processes and at the same time lower the implementation costs. Extending application processes means accelerating business innovation with BPM-enabled composition to speed up the time to change business processes, while providing standards-based integration to extend the business network to business partners.

To facilitate this way ahead, SAP will offer comprehensive BPM capabilities that will evolve into a common process layer catering for different personas and scenarios – compose: innovate and integrate.

Former Member

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