Business Process Paralysis

In a followup comment to the question on preparing for SOA, Mark Griffin asks whether it is possible to focus too much on the business, ignoring the IT deliverables. I think this is certainly a risk. While the failures were probably not due to an ignorance of technology, the business process re-engineering movement, noted by techniques such as Six Sigma, certainly left a lot of failed initiatives in its wake (at least according to books I’ve read, I have not personally been involved in such an effort). Likewise, I also believe that is possible to perform business process analysis and embrace business process technologies and completely miss all the benefits of SOA. As Anil John points out in his response, “Approaching SOA from both the Top-Down/Business Process perspective as well as the Bottom-Up/Service Factoring perspective allows for the identification of the re-usable aspects in a business process and to realize that re-usability using the service implementation technology of your choice.” This is well stated. The way to ensure that business process paralysis doesn’t happen is to embrace both a top-down approach and a bottom-up approach to your SOA and BPM adoption efforts. Strive to make the efforts meet in the middle. There is a challenge, still. Bottom-up efforts are more easily embraced because the starting point is well defined. Top-down efforts, are not so easily embraced. How high up do you go? I think this depends on your resources and the ability of those with business knowledge to contribute. You need to look broader than the bottom-up project at hand, but beginning at enterprise may be too far away to be practical. If the answer was easy, we’d all have done it by now.

2 Responses to “Business Process Paralysis”

  • BDA Community Project #1: “How to Prepare Your IT Organization for Service-Orientation?” – Tracking the Conversation…

    Last Friday, I asked if readers were interested in collaborating on questions related to business-driven architecture.  This was inspired by a comment from James. Continuing the community-driven theme, I shared a suggested starter question from Mark G…

  • Todd,

    Great post. This connects with a discussion I was having with Ismael on his IT|Redux blog at:

    The conclusion I came to was that if you concentrate purely on process, integration issues may come along and get you when its too late. But obviously its also important to understand the process and get the business users involved. So as you say, ‘make the efforts meet in the middle’!

    Great blog – I’ll be following this more closely.


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