May 20 2015

Overview

There are many good reasons for business to look very seriously at the Oracle Process Cloud Service as a way to provision a fully managed BPM environment that lets the business focus on process improvement.  Previous releases of Oracle BPM admitedly have focused on the technologist and not the business user.  However, the evolution to the Process Cloud has been underway since 11g via the Process Composer tool.  Process Cloud now makes it available to everyone.

For the business, there are many reasons to move to the Oracle Process Cloud:  

  • It wlll lower start-up and upfront costs for both IT infrastructure and software licenses.  
  • Cloud implementations reduce risks associated with large capital investment with smoother predictable operational expenditures. Large one-time software upgrade costs are also eliminated. 
  • Cloud customers benefit from using the latest product version and can rapidly leverage new feature capabilities.  
  • Requires the business to pay only for what they need, rather than over or under engineering an on premise business application.  "Elastic scalability’ ensures the business only pays for the capacity that is needed when it is needed.
  • Provides high performance and continuous availability: automatic load balancing and failover provide continuous availability.

The first release of the Oracle Process Cloud provides a full lifecycle, soup to nuts process management tool.  The Process Cloud user interface is fast, modern, and designed for the business. It isn't designed for the IT types (although us IT types will enjoy using them too.)  This topic is a tour through many of the Process Cloud screens at a high level so you can get a feel for how complete it is.  Many of the features you'll see here can also be found in the on-premise Process Composer tool, a web-based tool, also oriented to business users.       

Process Composer Home

Depending on your role in the Process Cloud environment, you will have different options available on the Process Composer main page. 

A BPM Developer using the Oracle Process Cloud will create processes, web forms, business types, and configure services as one or more applications. Applications can be defined in a special type of folder called a Space and the Spaces are managed by the Administrator.  When an administrator logs in, there will be additional options on the main menu to manage application deployments or configure the Process Cloud environment.

Application Home

The Application Home page lists the application artifacts on the left navigation: Processes, Web Forms, Business types, Decisions (business rules) and Web Services. As shown below, the application is in edit mode. Other BPM developers can view the application but not change it while it is in edit mode.

When a process is selected from the Application Home page, it is displayed and available for editing. The pallet on the right shows the various activities that can be created in the process.

Web Forms

Associated with user tasks in the BPM process are web forms that are easy to create and test in the Process Cloud Composer. The Web Form designer allows a form-first, data-first, or combination of both to create the form fields and process payload.  What this means is the Web Form can be created entirely from scratch by dragging form fields to the designer (form-first) or by using defined business types to drag pre-defined fields to the form.

Once a form has been designed, it can be quickly tested without having to deploy. Simply click on the Preview function and it will let the form designer fully test the form.

Web Form Rules

Form Rules are scripts the Web Form designer can use to enforce rules across the form and during events.  For example, if the form field input contains Customer Visit then other fields can enabled for input.  The form field rule editor validates the syntax, as shown in the example below.Form Rules.  Two errors were forced in the example below.

Using REST Services in Web Forms

The Javascript below is a form rule that executes on the form load event.  It runs a REST service to retrieve a list of countries which then replace a list of hard-coded options for the Country drop down list.

When the value of the Country field contains a non-blank value (i.e. selected) then another REST service is called to retrieve the cities associated with that country.

Human Tasks

There are two types of user tasks available on the PCS palette: one for a single user (Submit, e.g. Re-Submit Travel Request) and the other is oriented to groups of users (Approve, e.g. Sequential Approval and Parallel Approval). This is referred to as a Group Approval.

Both types are represented in the process shown below.

Decision Tables

Decision Tables come in two flavors: table and general (if-then).  It is a wizard driven process that allows for complex inputs and outputs to be defined.  The layout is intuitive, as shown in the Decision table example below.

The condition criteria can be defined based upon value sets (e.g. "cheap", "inexpensive", etc) that preclude the need to hard-code the rules.  

 

Process Deployment

Management

The management functions are defined by an administrator and are related to managing application deployments. Shown below are two deployed applications and a list of available actions that can be taken on them.  Deployment is a matter of selecting the space, the application, and whether to use a snapshot or the version last published by the process developer.

In the first deployment wizard step select the space where the application and the source of the publication.

Customize the application where for example, Web Service URLs can be changed for a specific environment.

After validating the application, the Deployment Options step will let you define the version.

  • A new Revision Id will keep old process running
  • The same Revision Id will require the use of the Override checkbox

Conclusions

The Oracle Process Cloud plugs business process improvement back into the hands of the business users.  While the on-premise Process Composer provided a modeling tool and some deployment capabilities, it still relied on considerable installation and maintenance cost which the Process Cloud avoids.  While the current Process Cloud capabilities are not equal to the on-premise but over time that will change.  The latest features and patches will be on the Process Cloud.  The Oracle Process Cloud is part of a massive Integration Cloud effort unfoalding right now and catching it right now is essential. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Greg Hughlett

Greg has more than twenty-five years of experience in all phases of design, development, and implementation of software applications.  He has developed and architected BPM/SOA technologies for more than ten of those years from Fuego BPM to BEA AquaLogic BPM to Oracle BPM/SOA 11g.  He has worked for clients within banking, financial services, Life Insurance,  Health Care, public sector and telecommunications industries.  His areas of expertise include Oracle SOA and Oracle BPM (formerly AquaLo

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