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Developing lightweight BPM in SharePoint 2013

The problem statement

While processes are considered to be one of the most critical elements of any organization, its workflow orchestrates them. Organizations today rely on robust business workflows, which serves as a backbone for business operations. Robust business workflows help drive vast, geographically spread organizations and forms integral lifeline for geographically widespread businesses. Operational activities ranging from procurement to HR like requisition, PO generation, invoicing, reimbursements are governed using workflows. Most organizations usually have never thought there was any alternative beyond implementing a white-labelled market leading BPM solution considering the business criticality, future updates & integration aspect.

Do we really need a white-labelled full-suite BPM solution? Or can we work around this?

The Prerequisites

Considering you’ve deployed SharePoint in some way or planning to rollout SharePoint 2013 anytime soon.

The Solution

Introduced in November 2012, SharePoint 2013 came with a major revamp to its architecture and quintessential features. Workflow is the most prominent one, with improvements such as a few fully declarative authoring, REST, and service bus messaging, elastic scalability, and managed service reliability.

There are also additions to the SharePoint workflow object model called collectively the Workflow Services Manager, which allows you to manage and control your workflows and their execution.

The Workflow Manager brings the power and flexibility of Windows Workflow Foundation to develop complex and custom workflows and deploy in SharePoint 2013. Apart from just enabling SharePoint 2013 to run complex workflows, the Workflow Manager includes enterprise features like…

Activity Management

Tracking & Monitoring Workflows

Instance Management

Declarative Authoring of Workflows

Do they look familiar, like your existing BPM tool, or one you’re planning to procure?

Yes, they definitely do!

 

SharePoint can be paired up with Visio workflows (in case you want to use Visio as a workflow-authoring tool) or Visual Studio to author the workflows and deploy on SharePoint 2013 as a SharePoint Solution Package (.wsp). The complexity of these workflows depends on the choice of the authoring tool.

SharePoint is used as a host for these workflows and provide a readymade platform for creating the front end for the end users (to fill in the requests) and the administrators to manage the workflows. Based on the requirement(s) a reporting dashboard can be built within SharePoint for generating vital statistics on the workflows.

 

Advantages

For organizations that have already invested in a SharePoint infrastructure can use the same platform to create a lightweight BPM solution. The development of the solution v/s the OPEX and CAPEX for procuring, implementing and managing a full-blown solution would give an ROI within 2 years of operation (considering a moderately placed BPM solution).

At the same time there is no dependency on the development platform for the proprietary BPM, the skills required (.NET and SharePoint) are readily available in the market. That gives a big relief from expensive support contracts of commercial BPM solutions.

There are no dependency and concern about sustainability as well.

 

The Conclusion

There are business needs and scenarios that would need a full blown BPM solution at the same time there are numerous business cases that do not need a heavy investment in a full size BPM solution. SharePoint based BPM is a preferred approach for businesses that need a lightweight business process implementation and already have an investment in SharePoint. In case you don’t have and would not want to procure SharePoint licenses, the entire solution can be built on a .NET framework, however then the development cost would be higher as compared to SharePoint but still way below the cost for procuring and implementing a full size BPM solution.

Comments
aniket asole
Yes Its definitely a right approach. Customers those are using standard BPM product are facing multiple challenges such as enhancements, new upgrade, availability of support, availability of technology expertise etc. Changing organizational policies as well as business processes needs to be Incorporated in the BPM solution without much investment and complexities. SharePoint definitely have advantage of inbuilt features and both SP/dotNet are widely used/acceptable technologies so one can have quick availability of experts In reasonable cost.
0 (0 Votes)
Posted on 9/30/15 8:17 AM.