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Application Composition, Agile Development Rapidly Gaining Ground : Page 2

Application composition is being used more as a way to stay ahead of the competition and to gain the greatest IT benefits from technological investments.


Building and Maintaining the Right Solution

Savvy businesses are warming up to the idea of application composition as a method of partnering with IT on all types of business issues. The concept is that by building up an application through layers -- each step informing the next, with none of the steps requiring difficult and unwieldy code -- business processes can be interlaced with human and prebuilt technological steps to more efficiently meet business requirements.

Think of application composition as a modern custom assembly process. Rather than developing each piece of an application from scratch, prebuilt applications are used to build a unified platform that pulls together all the tools required for dynamic case processing. It’s sort of a modular custom-built home approach instead of a custom home built inch by inch: a quick, reliable assembly of applications that offers reusable, configurable designs and draws upon established best practices to ensure that each piece is as up to date as possible.

Take, for example, a medical claim-approval process. The health care provider submits a request for reimbursement, which is entered into the insurance company’s system. A claims representative can trigger any number of responses from “request more information” to “approve” to “deny.” Some of those responses require additional human interaction; some can be processed instantly through the system.

The applications involved in the approval process are developed through a network in which each process is assembled from prebuilt, reusable components that correspond to the core business activities, like “submit request,” “approve request,” and “deny request.” Similarly, the user interface (UI) is created through prebuilt forms and service elements. Data is mapped appropriately between the UI, the data objects, and the process.

As the claims representative determines the response appropriate for the request, he or she uses a central point of control that contains documents, data, tasks, and discussions related to the specific case. As the process unfolds, the rep has the deep flexibility needed for “on-the-go” process changes and can create and manage the workflow depending upon the details involved.

And, because the pieces of the process are prebuilt, the process can rapidly adapt to changes in the business, keeping development costs to a minimum. No developers or custom code is required: Processes can be modified or new processes introduced simply by recombining existing components.

Partnering for Agility

Application composition is a critical concept for any IT project today. The ability to reuse components across multiple processes and applications makes it possible to effectively manage every individual case to meet specific business and customer requirements.

Application composition requires a core infrastructure that makes it quick and easy for users to make adjustments as needed throughout any given point in a process, while ensuring that quality and consistency actually improve as a result of reliable management of data, people, and policies. This is where the partnership of IT and business works to create agility and minimize development costs. IT manages the infrastructure to cost-effectively deliver good governance and optimal service levels, while business users apply the infrastructure components to rapidly configure and execute flexible applications.

Application composition is rapidly gaining ground as the best way to keep a step ahead of the competition and to gain the greatest IT benefits possible from technological investments. With the right technology exploited through a judicious partnership between IT and the line of business, the days of lengthy application development times and deployment delays are close to being over.

Jerry Silver is a senior product marketing manager for EMC Documentum xCP and is also responsible for the Documentum Developer Community. He has over 25 years of IT development and marketing experience, specializing in content management, collaboration, application development, Web technologies and social media. Jerry spent 15 years at Oracle in a variety of technical roles, most recently as principal product manager of Oracle Application Server Portal. Follow Jerry on Twitter @JerrySilver.
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