Context Normalization Standardization
How can a context normalization be standardized so different service implementations are aligned to a certain business process?
Large-size companies often have multiple implementations of the same logic across regions, subsidiaries or branches. Often these have the same processes in place and similar or the same systems for a specific business process. This creates a lot of redundant implementations which could be reused across if standardized.
In alike companies, business processes and business entities can be standardized across organizations. An process-aligned organization generally can operate at much reduced cost than non-aligned organizations because of resolving process disparity. Standardize business processes and categorize into standardization levels, each level digging deeper into the sub processes and business entities involved. Classify (groups of) services into these standardized processes.
Create standardized processes and derived business entities. From the main processes, create 2nd and 3rd level sub processes. These sub processes can then be used to derive (entity and task services) normalized scope definitions. These scope definitions can be used to standardize the service definitions and improve discoverability. Other departments and subsidiaries can use the same process models and share each other's systems if well-planned for inter-company/opco reuse.
Considerable effort up-front regarding process architecture and design alignment. Inter-organizational alignment challenges which require firm governance.
Large ie. multinational organizations have one big challenge: align the business activities that subsidiaries do. Even though generally speaking they all have the same goal and could share assets, it is more common that each one develops and maintains their own business processes and corresponding it assets. This results in disparity in how organizations solve their problems.
Figure 1 - Two organizations with the same business challenges solve their issues in a different way. On the long term while these businesses evolve semi-separately, disparity in the processes and their implementation is expected.
Many businesses in the same industry have common business processes. If a multinational organization can leverage the potential of each individual operating company to become a shared asset for others, this can create opportunities for reuse across businesses and consequently result in significant cost reduction. A way to achieve this is to implement identical business processes in the concerned companies. Ultimately process and technology standardization and interoperability is what we try to achieve here. This can only happen if sufficiently strong governance can be imposed onto these companies.
Aligned processes can result in aligned decomposition which can result in aligned technological solutions.
Figure 2 - Two organizations have solved large portions of their processes the same way, because first process normalization and alignment was applied, consequently followed by the same (shared/aligned) process decomposition.
Once governance is in place, all the business processes can be defined on the highest level (level 1), ie. product management, billing, invoicing, settlement, customer management etcetera. Drill down into each process defining smaller concerns (level 2). An example is: customer profile management; Then define deeper process concerns (level 3) is necessary. Example: customer preference management, customer privacy management etcetera.
Once this is done, each process domain in the lowest level documented should allow defining business functions relating to that domain, for example create/read/update/delete customer preferences.
This would ultimately result in a catalogue for which a SOA based implementation can be done.
Note that it is not necessary to do this for an entire enterprise. Parts of the enterprise can be focused on to create manageable projects. Once these projects are completed (with sufficient alignment) the leveraging of each other's efforts could start.
Many process and technology reference implementations exist to solve specific issues in an industry which can be used as a starting point for this alignment.
Figure 3 - Define multiple nested levels of processes and concerns to solve and share these across companies with sufficiently strong governance. This allows for aligned composition since now that the business functional context is standardized, service normalization can be aligned as well.
Multiple different operating companies, each with their respective management can be quite protective of their assets. Instead of sharing assets, what often is seen is "not invented by me" or "my solution is better, but I paid for it and won't share". Solving this requires strong directives from regional or even higher management. By implementing shared processes and process architecture, investments already made can sometimes be considered waste. Sometimes, already started changes on local level are stopped or rolled back, to free up resources required for implementing the shared/aligned solution. Underlying driver for this is the long-term cost reduction on regional or global level.
Since this requires a huge effort up-front, including business alignment before technology alignment to be mapped and governed before any technology alignment can be achieved, this can require years of preparation and the alignment may never be finished even. Although this seems like a problem, significant benefits can be obtained from this approach, even if not applied fully.
Figure 4 - A cross-company canonical schema with schema centralization and strong versioning can support this pattern.
Case Study Example
Note from the author: Confidentiality constraints prevent from describing actual case study. For this reason, none is provided.