In 2009 the OMG (Object Management Group, hoster of the BPMN specification) had announced that they would offer a serialization as part of the new BPMN 2.0. This was the signal for SAPERION to go for it and with this article I want to tell about this story (my first article).
First of all the graphical visualization of SAPERION´s process definition was changed to match BPMN´s look and feel. And secondly an interface was built to enable importing of BPMN 2.0 diagrams modeled by third party tools. In the summer of 2010 Version 7 of SAPERION ECM Workflow Suite was ready for BPMN 2.0. End of the story? Not quite.
Nothing is better than to have a reference, so we collaborated with a graduate student to do some research. He made a market screening of modeling tool vendors and evaluated three possible partners. Ultimately, we selected Signavio with its Process Editor.
Signavio is a young, rapidly growing company with a professional tool named Process Editor for documenting and analyzing business processes via web browser technology. They have offered a SaaS version since day-one. Signavio had decided to implement BPMN 2.0 serialization as well. While the prereleases described only thebasic elements and their graphical look and feel the new serialization specified how to store these diagrams. The format is XML-based containing two parts, one for the graphical information and a second for covering the attributes for process execution purposes.
This article is concerned primarily with the second part. The advantage for a smart interaction of a modeling tool from vendor A with the process engine from vendor B is that the process definitions in both tools must be in sync. This means changes made in one the process definition of the modeling tools of vendor A and B must be updated in the other tool. Otherwise model only in the tool of vendor A. And here we are: The process definition is 100% modeled within Signavio, so after deployment to SAPERION the Workflow Engine is working with it.
However, there was the problem of missing attributes, because the members of the BPMN 2.0 specification team had almost all the important functions of a human-centric workflow systems do not take into account that the SAPERION customers have learned to appreciate, however, over the years. So Signavio made an extension for us in there Process Editor offering the SAPERION Workflow attributes including lists of available values and we made an extension in our Workflow-API.
During deployment of the BPMN 2.0 XML-file (started by clicking on a button in Signavio) an additional graphic of the process diagram is handed over to the SAPERION transformer. The transformer maps all the BPMN elements and attributes to the internal data representation of the SAPERION Workflow engine. During runtime and by request of a user the Signavio process diagram will be handed over to the SAPERION Client that is displaying it. The task the user is working on is marked within the diagram.
Signavio did yet another configuration for us. The SAPERION Workflow engine is supporting only the core elements of BPMN 2.0 and some more, but not all of the 100 of them. So a Signavio user will select the stencil set named SAPERION BPM and with this he will model in respect to using the process model in SAPERION later on.
The following diagram shows how the SAPERION ECM Process Editor powered by Signavio and the SAPERION ECM Workflow Suite work together.
End of story? End of this one, yes. But there is another story: Signavio decided to go for process runtime and protocol analyses and is offering another tool now, named Signavio Process Analytics. And you will hear more about it soon, promised.
If you have any questions, I will be happy to hear from you: martin.bartonitz[at]saperion.com