Fiducia IT, the organisation that provides an IT competency centre for 760 co-operative banks in Germany, has used a business process management (BPM) tool from Metasonic to enable business users to create an SAP order processing application.
Speaking at the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona, Lothar Huber, director of Fiducia IT, said traditional approaches to software development were complex because IT and the business speak different languages.
"It is hard for IT people to understand how people in business think," he said.
In Huber's experience, when businesses are specifying an IT project, they talk from a real-life perspective, whereas IT people generally talk in terms of IT tasks. The result is that they often produce applications that do not match what the business wants.
"We would run out of time and budget. The IT solution would involve lots of change requests from the business. There would be too much IT and not enough business in the solution," he said.
When asked to develop a managed service hardware system for ordering IT equipment, Huber said IT estimated the project would take a year to implement, requiring 150 man days to integrate with SAP.
Rather than use a traditional IT software development approach, Huber used a methodology that enabled business users to do the IT work, which sped up delivery of the project.
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Fiducia's approach meant business logic could be specified and created by business people, while IT worked on the technical aspects of the implementation.
Metasonic was used to create business logic. The BPM tool creates software modules to represent the role of each person in a given business process.
Fiducia's IT team worked with five users from the business department who specified the business logic using these modules.
"The complete business logic description can be run directly by users who can change it iteratively without IT [getting involved]," said Huber.
With business users directly involved in the implementation, the project went live eight months earlier than IT's estimate, he said.
This freed up the IT people to work on the integration of the system with SAP. "We used only 15 man days from the business and 15 man days of IT development time," said Huber.
The BPM approach, giving users the ability for users to implement software directly, is not suitable for all projects, but Huber believes it can work well with an agile, unstructured process.