Task: Business Process Analysis
This task identifies the design elements of a service-oriented solution in terms of services and partitions and documents the initial specification of those services.
Disciplines: Analysis & Design
  • To identify the design elements of a service-oriented solution in terms of services and partitions.
  • To document the initial specification of services.
  • To determine the initial dependencies and the communication between services.
Main Description

This task uses Business Process Models as input and identifies a set of candidate services which are included in the project service portfolio. These candidate services may yet require additional refinement, however the steps included here provide an effective manner in which to produce an initial set of Artifact: Service Specifications.

Identify Candidate Services from Business Process

In the discussion of business alignment of services in the Guideline: Service, the connection between business models and service identification was discussed. In general, this approach provides a very tight connection between business stakeholders/users and the IT organization implementing services by allowing for service operations to directly support the tasks identified in process models. In general, business-process models focus on tasks performed by roles and/or resources in an organization to accomplish some goal, usually to provide value in the form of product or service to an external party such as a customer or partner. The overall process is therefore an ordered set of such tasks, possibly decomposed into sub-processes. It has associated organization, resource, and data models to capture all aspects of the process including not only performing roles, but required/used resources, ownership of resources, accountability, definitions of items passed into and out of tasks, and so on. The Concept: Business Process Decomposition describes how we reach a level of description of a business process model at which it is possible to identify candidate services, as shown in the example below. Depending on the level of granularity of the Artifact: Business Use Case Model, it may be necessary to refine the business use-cases, to be able to reach the level of decomposition at which a useful process model can be produced.

The following demonstrates a very simple process model using the IBM WebSphere Business Integration Modeler.

Diagram is described in the textual content.

In this case, each horizontal swimlane represents a particular role performing tasks in the process. The process starts with the green circle, ends with the red outlined circle, and does have data flowing between some tasks (in the form of a loan request). This process, while obviously trivial and contrived, does demonstrate the high level of tasks. They may be atomic actions from a business point of view, but obviously would require a number of steps when decomposed to the IT level. In general, in object-oriented development of component based development, we would then treat each individual task from the business view as a use case at the IT view and decompose into sets of components and classes to form the implementation of the use case.

In a service-oriented solution, the service is identified at a similar level of granularity. It is commonly assumed that the operations on a service specification will correspond 1:1 with the atomic tasks identified in a business process model. While this is an attractive approach and may, if carefully done, achieve the right results, it also tends to lead to the assumption that such once services are identified, they may be directly implemented as they are described in the process model. Specifically each role (swimlane) will become a named service with each task within the swimlane created as an operation on the corresponding service, as can be seen in the following diagram.

What this approach fails to take into consideration is that there are non-functional requirements that affect the kind of service to be developed, the way operations are identified on services, and so forth. The level of detail usually captured by such tools tends not to include enough to capture security, quality of service, or manageability policies, for example. By transforming the process into a set of candidate service specifications in a service model provides a starting point, but should be considered only as a starting point from which further analysis is performed before the design model is developed which describes the actual implementation. Therefore all such services should have their status set to 'candidate', as can be seen in this view of the Rational Software Modeler property view.

Alternative Representation

Where a more document-centric format for the service model is used it may be more appropriate to capture the mapping between process tasks and service using a tabular form. The example below demonstrates this possible format.

 Illustration of tabular format

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