Of Prairie Dogs and Processes

Of Prairie Dogs and Processes


Sara Hollyoak from Griffiths-Waite gave a good presentation at the UK Oracle User Group conference last week on her experiences with BPEL.  She identified how important it is to follow an actual process through on the ground rather than accepting someones word about what the process is.  This is good advice but is actually more complicated than it seems.


This was brought home to me as I shared Sara's advice with a large government client earlier today.  Initially their re-action was "well no one person follows this process through".  That is true for many organisations and I was reminded of many a pleasent hour spent watching prairie dogs playing in a prairie dog town outside my appartment when I lived in Denver.  I would watch one prairie dog disappear down a hole only to appear a little while later from a different hole.  It would repeat this several times.


Processes are often like these prairie dogs.  An event such as customer information request or a purchase order initiates a process that causes a user to interact with a system.  That system passes information to another system that may cause an entry to appear in another users workflow task.  It is not easy to follow the process, it is necessary to talk to both the end users to find out what they do and also the system maintainers in IT who can tell you how the process flows between systems.


Like the prairie dog the process disappears down holes (applications) and resurfaces from another hole (application).  Moving this process into a process manager and having the process manager interact with users as appropriate and route information between application explicitly rather than leacing it as implicit routing in the application gives the process visibility and makes it possible to easily track progress.


Prairie dogs already do this!  They know how their network of tunnels is connected and at the approach of danger they know where the nearest hole is and how to navigate through to a safe exit.  We need to learn to do the same with our business processes.


 

Comments:

Hi Antony,

I attened couple of your workshops for BPEL and SOA at Oracle. I had a question on BPEL and Business Rules.

Is there any difference in Busniess Rule engine as a part of BPEL and BRE as a part of business rules management system (BRMS) tool and then using it with BPEL.

thanks, Nimish

Both approaches work, there can be a performance boost by co-locating BRE and BPEL but otherwise BRE can be run anywhere.

Antony

Posted by Nimish on November 29, 2006 at 02:24 AM MST #

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About

Musings on Fusion Middleware and SOA Picture of Antony Antony works with customers across the US and Canada in implementing SOA and other Fusion Middleware solutions. Antony is the co-author of the SOA Suite 11g Developers Cookbook, the SOA Suite 11g Developers Guide and the SOA Suite Developers Guide.

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