Saturday, June 23, 2007
On page 10 of this whitepaper I read an interesting statement regarding interviewing a customer to figure out what business processes they have (with as ultimate goal integrating different back-end systems to provide an automated business process in an SOA environment).
The process-modeling interviews were done one-on-one, instead of meetings where all involved parties are present. The system integrator's experience showed that otherwise (too) much time would have been spent on educating everybody about the big picture. In such a "grand" meeting, roles would be ranging from frontline-workers to the CIO, for which each would be contributing very different process insights, causing a significant delay.
For me it is quite remarkable, since all the process-modeling I was involved in over the years did involve a more consensus-oriented meeting structure were all relevant parties were put in one room. It does work, but indeed much time is spent on getting everybody on the same page. If time doesn't permit, the one-on-one interviewing technique is definitely a viable option. Still, it might provide less buy-in from the involved parties. Also some process optimization(s) might be missed because everybody still only sees his/her part of the process. And indeed, all involved did conclude that in the future a more participatory style and ongoing committee meetings will be most beneficial, especially in the area of SOA governance and the evolution of the business services layer. The paper also shows that iterative (agile) design/development with involvement of the business analysts from the start is still definitely a good way to go: it's just hard to get everything correct in the first iteration. As an SOA architect, you start constructing business services layers with BPEL, which future business applications can reuse (top-down). Then at almost the same time you start to webservice-enable existing systems (bottom-up). Note the combined effort: it was not implemented pure top-down or pure-bottom up, it was a mix. Here's a link to an elaborate description of the project.
Below is a screenshot of a great diagram in the paper which put sthe above architecture terms SOA, webservices and BPEL in perspective: