On my last project, I got a chance to work with BPM 11g Process Composer. It didn't take long for the rich web based process modeling tool to impress me with its capabilities. Now, there are a lot of different tools out there to model your business processes, for example Microsoft Visio, so why should anybody use BPM 11g Process Composer? What makes Process Composer any different than the other options?
Even though at its core, BPM 11g Process Composer is a business process modeling tool, it does much more than just that.
1) The single biggest advantage Process Composer has over other tools is that it promotes team collaboration. Everybody on a team knows their day to day job well and they have good knowledge of their domain. They might be a small piece of the puzzle, but are always an important one. Process Composer gives everyone the ability to come together and collaborate on the process discovery and design. This allows everyone to provide their expertise on their piece of the process. Process design collaboration also helps find process gaps, work redundancies, and bottlenecks. Business users can readily and easily be given appropriate access to Process Composer to provide their input on the process design and flow.
2) Another unique feature of Process Composer is that it gives the ability create snapshots. Snapshots work like repository versioning that essentially capture the current state of the processes. This gives the users the flexibility to go back in history and look at the progression of their process discovery and design development over a period of time.
3) Composer is a standards based BPMN 2.0 modeling tool. This means it is created such that both technical and business users feel comfortable using it. It provides a notation that is intuitive to non-technical and business users, and yet has to ability to capture complex process details that the technical users are interested in.
4) Even though not currently widely used, as JDeveloper is the weapon of choice for all Oracle BPM developers, Process Composer provides the ability to add implementation pieces to process artifacts, create end to end executable processes, and even deploy them straight from Process Composer. Process Composer also provides seamless transferring of processes and projects between JDeveloper and itself thru MDS (Metadata Services) and via the export and import feature.
Packed with all the above mentioned features, Process Composer definitely brings much more to the table than most other business process modeling tools, and yet, like most other tools it does (as per version 188.8.131.52) have a few features that do not work as excepted. But fortunately for us, we have a solution or a workaround for all of these. Here is the list.
1) Deleting Folders
Issue: Cannot delete folders, not even as the user who created them.
Solution: The user you are trying to use to delete the folders cannot do so because the user does not have administrative privileges. Only users with administrative privileges can delete folders.
2) Frozen page
Issue: When adding, deleting, or editing process artifacts, many times Process Composer will seem like its frozen.
Solution: Hit the Save button on the top to release the frozen status.
3) Renaming Projects
Issue: Process Composer does not give the ability to rename projects.
- Export the Project you want to rename from Composer.
- The exported Project has a .exp extension. Rename the extension to .zip instead and unzip it.
- Rename the project to your desired name.
- Using Notepad++ or some other similar tool, find all text references to the old Project name within the unzipped folder and replace it with your new Project name.
- Zip the folder back.
- Rename the extension to .exp.
- Delete the existing Project inside Composer.
- Import your .exp from Composer.
4) Renaming Processes
Issue: Process Composer does not give the ability to rename rocesses.
- Export the project that contains the process you want to rename from Process Composer.
- The exported project has a .exp extension. Rename the extension to .zip instead and unzip it.
- Run a search to find all file name references to the old process name within the unzipped folder and replace it with your process name.
- Using Notepad++ or some other similar tool, find all text references to the old process name within the unzipped folder and replace it with your new Process name.
- Zip the folder back.
- Rename the extension to .exp.
- Delete the existing project inside Process Composer.
- Import your .exp from Process Composer.
5) Renaming Folders
Issue: Process Composer does not give the ability to rename Folders.
- Export the project(s) that are under the folder you want to rename from Process Composer.
- Delete the project(s) under the folder you want to rename.
- Delete the folder you want to rename.
- Create a new folder with the desired name.
- Import the exported project(s) under the new folder.
6) Printing Processes from Process Composer
Issue: When you try to print processes from Process Composer, it removes the swimlane role name on the printed version.
Workaround: Instead of trying to print the process, create a 'Process Report'. Once the process report opens in a new window, right click and save image of the process. The image does have all the swimlane role names. You should be able to print the image with the correct resolution.
7) Deleting Processes
Issue: Process Composer will seem to let you delete a process, but then the process reappears when you refresh the page.
Solution: You must first set the project (the process is under) in edit mode and then delete the process.
8) Renaming Roles
Issue: Process Composer does not let you rename roles from the project organization structure.
Solution: Find a swimlane with the role you want to rename in any of your processes. Click on the role name on the swimlane and rename it to your desired name. Process Composer adjusts the new name in all other references as well.
9) Saving Documentation
Issue: Saved documentation gets deleted.
Solution: When adding documentation on a process artifact, be aware of two things. First, make sure you have the correct 'Documentation Type' selected from the drop-down on the right side. 'Internal' documentation is for use case documentation and 'End User' documentation is designed to be shown through the Workspace as online help. Use 'Internal' documentation. Secondly, you have to hit the 'Apply Changes' button at the bottom to save your documentation changes. Hitting the 'Save' button on to top does not save your documentation.
10) Exporting processes as word documents (docx)
Issue: Exporting process(es) as Word documents exports as a file without any extension.
Solution: The exported file is of type .zip. Add .zip to the end of the file name and extract the files from it. The process(es) Word documents should be there.
Process Composer does have a few things, as mentioned above, that do not work as expected, but we have solutions and workarounds for them and the advantages that Process Composer provides over other tools easily outweigh the minor quirks. Feel free to drop me a line below if you have any questions about Process Composer in general or any questions or comments on the great, the good, and the bad features mentioned in my blog.