Agile Business Process Automation
by David Nichols
Currently there is a lot of excitement and competition in the Business Process Automation
space, however, despite the plethora of BPA platforms available, many such projects end up over
budget, provide very little business flexibility when changes are necessary and fail to reach per-
formance, transparency, and reliability goals.
The purpose of this paper is to describe an alternative framework for the agile develop-
ment of reliable, disposable interfaces and services, specifically aimed at providing maximum busi-
ness flexibility and interface quality while reducing implementation and long-term operational costs.
Traditional development approaches (particularly in fixed
price, outsourced projects) are normally based on a contractually-
fixed set of requirements and relatively heavy change-control
processes. Movements in the IT industry to formulate new de-
velopment approaches to match more realistic business scenarios
where requirements are continually refined and updated in the
course of a project, have resulted in agile development method-
ologies, the most prominent of which is Extreme Programming.
Agile development methodologies provide a disciplined
approach to IT development intended to produce usable results
faster and with higher quality than traditional approaches. Fun-
damentally, agile methodologies try to remove bureaucratic barri-
ers to producing tangible results without sacrificing quality.
Fast and flexible development of disposable interfaces is
particularly relevant in service-oriented architectures; services
should reflect the current needs of the business processes they
are servicing; changing business requirements often require corre-
sponding changes to technical processes. For example, this con-
cept is reflected in Jini, a Java-based SOA framework, that imple-
ments utility helper classes to define temporary software de-
Open-source Jini and the majority of proprietary BPA so-
lutions are based on Java.