Loan Underwriting Demo - Part 5

Editing User Interfaces in BPM

Continuing our series on Digital Business Automation and how we can help make a business more efficient and effective, I’m going providing a few articles about a project our team recently put together. This was a proof of concept (POC) project in the loan industry. As we move through this series, I will highlight some finer details of features and design. This particular project was completed using IBM Business Process Management (BPM) and Operational Decision Manager (ODM), along with some external API integration. This video focuses on the mortgage industry; however, we’ve used the tools and methods described here to successfully implement solutions in the financial, manufacturing, retail, medical and many other varied business sectors.

In this video we’re highlighting the development environment used to build the BPM portion of our Loan Underwriting application. If you’ve watched the previous videos, it should be apparent that with IBM BPM you can implement any of the features you would typically find in a web-based application (text-fields, calendar selectors, radio buttons, etc…), but the big difference between this and a typical web-based solution is the powerful task-managing software powering everything behind the scenes.

In traditional software development, your team might work from conceptual drawings of how processes work and then manage linking those together with page-references in the code. But for the BPM developer, they work from the drawing and attach the underlying logic to the drawing. The BPMN design isn’t just a pretty picture, it literally forms the framework which our developers use to make the solution work.

User interfaces are crafted through a drag-and-drop Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that allows programmers to arrange a collection of page elements onto a palette that becomes the rendered page when executed. Working in this environment can be fun. It’s also a pretty forgiving IDE because it has a snapshot system which allows you to rollback any changes. It is an expandable framework and lets you import new custom components (Like Apex’s ACV2 toolkit which we used to style our examples!). It includes context-sensitive JavaScript support, and sports numerous other features that help you make valid design choices.

In our video we saw that we could create re-usable address entry sections, and that they were displayed on-screen in a cartoon-like element. These are composite coach views. The “coach view” name comes from the historical naming conventions of the IBM BPM software that was steeped in sports and leadership metaphors, and while that’s no longer the branding used, they still keep the spirit of the original idea alive — helping your team get stuff done.

The UI development process and the whole PD environment use the “drill-down” approach. Starting with higher level objects you can double-click on page elements and drill down into details. Page elements will have configuration information details below the palette where you can customize the settings for each item at a very granular level.

You begin with the BPMN process design and then drill down into specific process elements and then build deeper and deeper into the process until you get to database integration or API calls where information is shuttled around in the underlying system. We don’t spend time on it in our videos, but PD also comes with a very powerful debugging tool which lets you step through every change within an application, one page at a time, to help find out where things have gone awry in your work. Once mastered, it’s incredibly useful for troubleshooting.

This is a very quick overview of the tools used to develop IBM BPM applications, but IBM has extensive online documentation for Process Designer and all the BPM components if you’d like to learn more about the technical aspects of the platform.

If want to learn how Apex can help your company experience a Digital Business Automation makeover, contact us at or (947) 282–6026.

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Blake Smith

Blake Smith