There has been a lot of chatter recently about measuring SOA ROI – take a look at Loraine Lawson’s recent blog for instance.
or Gartner’s results of a UK-based survey of SOA adopters. However, one of the benefits that I think a lot of people miss, or do not attribute enough importance to at least, is Visibility.
Basically, the visibility story goes that with SOA, since you break up operational components into discrete business services, then it becomes easy to monitor entry and exit to these services and hence business operations flow. This gives a clear picture in business terms of execution and performance – not just what is happening, or how many times, but HOW business is being carried out.
Gartner did touch upon visibility,
Improved Efficiency in Business Processes Execution – Isolating the business logic from the functional application work enables a clearer view of what a process is, and the rules to which it adheres. This can be measured by lower process administrative costs, higher visibility on existing/running business processes, and reduced number of manual, paper-based steps; better service-level effectiveness; quicker implementation of process iterative or of variants of the same process for different contexts.
However, the Gartner focus was only on visibility as it relates to execution efficiency. In fact, SOA-based visibility offers another benefit which, in today’s tough times particularly, can be a real big hitter for executive management. It enables management to see how process are being executed – in other words, it provides the ideal tool to monitor compliance against a growing raft of regulatory requirements across just about every industry. In order to demonstrate that your systems comply, it is necessary to be able to see what they are doing and how they are doing it. This is what SOA delivers.
So how does improved compliance management fit into the ROI picture? True, it is very hard to attach a dollar amount to compliance – however it certainly matters. With the amount of public and political scrutiny of corporations today, it is absolutely imperative that executives can show they are faithfully adhering to regulations and guidelines. Failure to do so will not only risk severe penalties, but also probably lose them their jobs! Now THAT’s a compelling business case….