Smart digital assets: Catalyst for end-to-end process management

Photo: Ketabchi of SavvionA conversation with Dr. M. A. Ketabchi of Savvion on business process management systems

Dr. M. A. Ketabchi is the president, CEO, and founder of Savvion, a business process management systems vendor. He was a full professor at Santa Clara University when he founded Savvion in 1994. Under his leadership, Savvion launched the first business process management product in the market in 1999, has built a strong customer base of leading enterprises around the world, and has reached profitability and growth.

PwC: You have been promoting the concept of a process applications. What is a process application?

MK: A process application is developed using a business process management system [BPMS] and is the execution of an end-to-end process, which typically involves both people and systems. For instance, an end-to-end process could include a step performed by one person, which triggers a task for another person, which triggers a transaction on a database, and so on. From the time a process begins until it ends may be a day or a year. AT&T has built a cell tower construction process application. Several of our customers have a new product introduction application. It is common for those processes to take months, and maybe a year.

PwC: How are process applications different from collaboration or groupware applications?

MK: Groupware overlaps in functionality but not in purpose. Groupware applications are end user productivity applications. In contrast, the main purpose of process applications is to let the business monitor and change the process easily. The single most important difference between a business application developed via a BPMS and a traditional business application is agility—the ability to change the application when the business conditions change. This agility is possible because the business logic is not hard-coded into the applications.

PwC: Why are process applications needed? Why can’t enterprises just use transactional applications to do the same thing?

MK: Because business objectives are not achieved by individual transactional applications. Business objectives are achieved through the execution of business processes, which span multiple transactional applications as well as multiple human actions interweaved with the execution of the application. That focus on the end-to-end process—versus a function—creates the need for process applications.