I’ve been blogging lately about web services, and how they relate to business process management software. To make a long short, BPM software packages can leverage web services to expand the BPM software’s reach and broaden its ability to share information, not only with users and databases directly in the BPM system, but also with other IT systems related to the business process.
Few business processes are self-contained; most require information from people and systems across departments and business areas. Many business processes even require information to be shared with external partners, clients, and providers. Web services can expand the functionality of the BPM system and connect it with other systems across the organization, and beyond. The resulting integrated systems are sometimes known as “mashups”.
Mashups are pre-configured, ready-to-go integrations between different business software packages that speed and streamline the sharing of information among those systems. For example, a BPM system can leverage web services to share client data with customer relationship management (CRM) software during an inventory process. Or, budget data from an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can be shared with the BPM, both in order to approve or deny an expense report filed using the BPM and subsequently to update the ERP once the expense report is complete. Or, the BPM could be used to generate and retrieve documents stored in a document management system (DMS).
Yes, web services can be used to share information with any other system that use web services. Mashups make the sharing process that much easier, by preconfiguring the systems integration and streamlining the way that the two systems work together.