How people activities look in various BPMN implementations? Let’s assume purely for illustration purposes that we have an “Inquiry to Order” process containing three activities: “Do This” (system), “Negotiate Contract” (human), “Do That” (system) and diagram it with several popular tools:
itp commerce Business Process Modeler for Microsoft Visio:
Unlike other tools presented, itp commerce tool doesn’t have execution engine, only simulation capabilities.
TIBCO Business Studio:
Swimlane name (”Sales Manager”) in TIBCO is just a label, it doesn’t affect the execution. The “real” participant is specified as activity attribute and isn’t displayed on the diagram.
Another caveat: TIBCO’s studio lets you model much more than TIBCO iProcess process engine is able to execute. Don’t be surprised by numerous errors when you try to upload the process diagram for execution - these aren’t BPMN errors but incompatibilities between studio and engine.
Oracle BMPS (aka BEA AquaLogic BPM or ALBPM):
ALBPM uses proprietary notation by default - you need to switch visual theme to get closer to BPMN. And still compliance to BPMN isn’t perfect.
But unlike in TIBCO, studio and engine are ideally coupled. Another nice feature: in addition to full-scale engines (standalone and J2EE-based) there is an engine embedded into studio. It’s very handy for analyst and developer to have a “sandbox” on his own computer for rapid process execution and verification.
The swimlane name “SalesManager” strictly defines the participant. It’s so-called abstract role which should be mapped to existing users/groups/roles at deployment.
And the “hero” of our parade, Intalio BPMS:
A single rectangle transforms into four, connected with six arrows. Besides there are pools instead of swimlanes. I’m shocked. It’s 100% BPMN technically yet nothing but a mockery in essence.
It only may work in STP where a human is an add-on to 95%-automated process. Only if an exception occurs and a process goes off the mainstream s/he shall intervene.
But if we are dealing with a “normal” business process where a human does majority of activities - can you imagine what the process diagram will look like? A terrible mess. Just can’t imagine - how this can be offered to human beings? May be programmers would accept this - they are half-robots anyway but what about analysts and business people in general?
A note of the well-known independent analyst Sandy Kemsley published at Intelligence Enterprise “BPM Focus Turns to People in the Process” hits the point. Unlike me, she puts it politically correct and speaks about some “IT groups”:
“It may seem obvious that you have to consider the people who are part of a business process, but there are many SOA-centric IT groups that really don’t consider people as first-class process citizens. Rather, they are viewed as being there only to handle specific exception steps when things go wrong in straight-through processing.”
It’s a pity really. I feel sympathy towards Intalio as a company and I had certain expectations towards the product knowing that some colleagues use it successfully. And now - what a miserable disappointment.
From my point of view, the possibility for IT and business to talk the same language is not a feature but the classifying attribute of BPMS; if this “magic” is absent then other features don’t count. Unfortunately the way Intalio BPMS implements human activities make this system a pure IT tool even if they pretend to be very friendly to business analysts. I guess it’s because they are 100% BPMN-compatible. Yes they are but it’s BPMN for robots, not for business analysts.
I must admit that I’m still in doubt finding no cryticisms towards Intalio on this matter - may be I missed something? Let me ask you Intalio users: do you feel comfortable with this implementation of human activities? If yes - did you use some other BPMS and had a chance to compare?