Composability for successful and agile end-to-end business automation

July 6, 2022

The past years have been characterized by constant change and have made companies realize that such changes must no longer pose a threat to their business in the future. They now know the importance of being agile and adaptable in order to be able to react and master change as quickly as possible. This challenge has led companies to accelerate the implementation of their digitization strategies and give a key role to application development. The question of how companies create and use their applications is increasingly coming into focus, drawing attention to the concept of composability. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at this and focus primarily on composability in process management.

In my previous post, "Implementation of Business Process Management in your organization - How does the selection of a low-code or no-code BPMS make an impact?" we saw how the use of low-code/no-code/pro-code platforms enables more productive cross-functional collaboration between Business and IT teams, faster time-to-market and the resolution of complex cross-functional processes by being able to implement custom code when needed.

Low-Code/No-Code platforms for fast adaption

The required business agility in today's changing and competitive ecosystem forces organizations to prioritize being more adaptable to the needs of their customers and the dynamics of the market. This leads them to focus on low-code/no-code platforms with a fast BPM application to manage their processes.

Composability – Component-based application development for complex requirements

However, mission-critical, customer-facing applications need to incorporate complex IT-developed functionality because they cannot be developed directly within that low-code environment. To make it easier for low-code applications to embed these complex functionalities, the Component-Based Development (CBD) methodology is applied. It revolutionized software development at the end of the 20th century, and has currently evolved into a methodology known as composability, enhancing the portability and interoperability of the components.

Reusing best-of-breed componants for easier application development

This approach allows the reuse of autonomous components (without affecting other components or applications) by calling any service or component from the low-code application. The ultimate goal is to ensure optimal functionality of process digitization applications by leveraging proven best-of-breed components to create new automated process applications with the best and maximum functionality required.

With this, the concept of composability goes beyond pure software development. Gartner speaks of business composability, referring not only to application development, which is undoubtedly the core of a composable company but also to organizational thinking and structures, governance, processes and company culture.

Pillars and principles of the composable company

Business composability is a way of planning, organizing, and operating based on the reassembly of modular components into new business capabilities and workflows. Modular design, the key principle of composability, allows the most volatile aspects of the business (which could not have been easily changed in the past) to be easily adjusted to drive the business value required.

Composability which is a step for companies in digitization, must encompass, according to Gartner three key pillars:

  • Composable thinking in an organization's culture emphasizes the assembly and reassembly of components. Everything is modular and can be changed. Change is an opportunity and not a threat.
  • A composable business architecture, ensuring a flexible and resilient organization. Achieving the required digitization is possible through a platform that facilitates maximizing the ability to build, assemble and reassemble different modular business elements.
  • Composable technology comprises digital assets packaged as autonomous components that deliver independent, clear, and full business value and are designed as building blocks for assembly and reassembly within business processes.

The four basic principles of composability

In parallel, a composable digital business must apply one of the four basic principles of composability to manage with resilience and achieve untapped business value. These principles are:

  • Modularity: to have autonomous components that collect the necessary business capabilities to facilitate their use in different applications and use cases, offering maximum flexibility, scalability and change control.
  • Orchestration: build components with a focus on standards-based interaction.
  • Exploration: components are identified, monitored and managed, providing speed.
  • Autonomy: build interchangeable components without affecting the system, providing complete integrity.

End-to-end automation thanks to best-of-breed, autonomous and portable components

Today's Component-Based Design (Composability) facilitates interoperability and portability through standardized service interfaces that third parties make available to anyone in libraries regardless of how they are programmed. Thus, when digitizing business processes by developing an application in a Business Process Management System (BPMS), it is possible to use the required autonomous components (microservices) to provide the necessary functionality.

With this in mind, monolithic BPMS platforms should be avoided because they pose a compatibility problem with the low-code BPMS platform with external, autonomous components from different vendors. In general, nothing can be used that is not coupled to the platform's functionalities, or complex integration is required.

A good practice, therefore, for successful end-to-end automation is to compose the business solution from a library of the best portable components. Using a platform that facilitates the interoperability (integration and coordination) businesses can optimally combine autonomous components (internal and external) according to the needs in the digitization of business processes.

Benefits of component-based development

Component-based development offers companies considering digitization and end-to-end automation the following key benefits, among others:

  • Simplification and cost reduction thanks to the reuse of components.
  • Adaptability to changing needs, with the ability to adopt new technologies and being configured to switch quickly to new technologies.
  • Open innovation by taking the best external components developed by experts outside the organization.

Use cases of Composability with Flowable

Composability enables numerous companies to maximize their productivity when implementing applications and to achieve a fast time-to-market. Here are some use cases from our technology partner Flowable:

  • SEBA Finance saved time automating manual tasks in its financial services operations by integrating with its existing systems.
  • Swiss SDX quickly rolled out the digitization of its complex processes such as customer onboarding, with multi-channel interaction, implemented in their existing infrastructure.
  • Kindred Credit Union automated their emergency loan process in just 5 days. Kindred leveraged Flowable's template generation functionality to automatically create member-specific loan agreement documents, which were then sent for electronic signature. This template functionality provided an additional reduction in loan processing and turnaround time.

Composability as a competitive edge

In conclusion, as the „2022 Gartner CIO and Technology Executive Survey“ by Gartner indicates, organizations that demonstrate high composability are, on average, two years ahead of their competitors in digital transformation efforts and can improve their business performance in volatile times. Incorporating composability into process digitization allows any organization to change and grow despite persistent uncertainty and volatility.

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The author
Pedro Robledo
Pedro Robledo
BPM Expert
As Chairman and co-founder of the Spanish Chapter of ABPMP International, he is one of the most influential representatives in the field of process management using BPM (Business Process Management) and has been dedicated to promoting knowledge of Business Process Management in Spain and Latin America for more than 20 years. As a BPM consultant, he supports companies in their BPM and digital transformation initiatives. He is the director of the University Master's Degree in BPM for Digital Transformation and the University Master's Degree in Strategic Process Management at the International University of La Rioja (UNIR). Since 2013, he has participated as a jury member in the international WfMC Awards for Excellence in BPM and Workflow.
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