Returning From The Cold

Well, after a continued absence, I suppose it is time to make or break with this blog thing. I just dont know where some of my contemporaries find the time. I suppose it is a balance, like everything in life – to keep the fires burning you have to bring in the coal, chop logs, eat, … you can see where I am going with this. With a punishing travel schedule, too many customers wanting work packages completed, completion of another training course (Process Modeling Fundamentals) and an ever present OMG ready to chew any free time, it just never seemed to be high enough up my agenda. But enough excuses – there are so many things that have happened, spin-pieces written and misleading posts that I really do need to put a few stakes in the ground. So with luck, I will get back to a quick post every day or two.

Lets start with the major step forward that happened at last month’s OMG meeting. BPDM was voted through for adoption by the Business Modeling and Integration Task Force. With a couple of notable abstentions from major vendors (not wanting to rock the boat but not quite ready to endorse), virtually every voting member gave a resounding yes to the hard work that has been put in by the team. (You can find out more about BPDM here.

Of course it wasn’t universally welcomed. We have a few die-hards in our industry who try and spin everything to their benefit (well I suppose most vendors could be put in that bucket). Any standard they have not been involved in developing, they are not interested in seeing being adopted widely. Especially one as far reaching and important as BPDM.

Not surprising really – these standards represent real software development costs for vendors (and in the end customers). For instance, if you had placed all your bets on BPEL delivering the answer to world peace, and outsourced (open sourced) all your development to your customers, then the emergence of a new direction in how business process models are managed and interchanged is nothing short of a major threat. Alternatively, if you had placed the UML metamodel at the heart of your software architecture, then the emergence of another metamodel at the higher business level of abstraction (rather than being purely software focused) just represents further investment (with little prospect of immediate ROI).

At the heart of BPDM is support for both the orchestration and choreography sides of the process coin. Orchestration is the bit we are all used to – purposeful activity strung together in a sequence. Choreography is more about the interactions of the roles involved – be they business partners and the company, internal roles or even between software services. Choreography is becoming ever more important as people start to realise that a serial input-output perspective of process doesn’t help you much when you have thousands of associates working on a problem in parallel (a subject I explored here). The point is that this sophistication is set to enable the next round of innovation in BPM.

A lot of energy is now being focused around creating the next version of BPMN which is set to be extended folded into the BPDM metamodel. It was really interesting to see who was now becoming very focused about making sure the scope of that effort achievable and yet also meaningful.

Most people never need be aware of the intricacies and sophistication of BPDM – it is all about how model information is stored and exchanged between tools. So even the most adept BPM business analyst will never be concerned with it. As far as most of you are concerned, it is just gobbledygook. All the end-user organization need worry about is that their vendor is working toward supporting the standard. Why? Because it will give them true portability and ownership of their important possessions – their process assets.

On the other hand, the vendors of BPM technology products should take a keen interest.

The other big step forward at the OMG was around BPMM (Maturity Model). This is now going through a fast track adoption process at the OMG. BPMM is equally important to the business side. It outlines the long term transformational nature of the BPM journey, describing and highlighting the practices and behaviors as the firm becomes more adept. Based around the 5 layer model we have all become used to in CMM, CMMI and PeopleCMM, it provides a comprehensive assessment mechanism. Knowing where you are is an essential part of working out where you want to get to.

Finally, for those of you who have read this far (it sort of proves you are interested in this stuff), you really should attend BPM Think Tank in Burlingame . Think Tank was a concept I helped put together as co-chair of BPMI.org as a way of getting some conversations going between the various (at that time competing) standards bodies. One could argue that this seminal event led to the eventual merger of BPMI.org with the OMG. This is a real opportunity to learn from the best in the business; to get together with your peers and share knowledge; and to grow a deep understanding of the value and power of process standards.

No other event involves every attendee as a real part of the action. Now in its third year, OMG’s BPM Think Tank is a unique gathering of experts with a highly interactive format that makes it a can’t-miss event.

The format is unique in that delegates spend significant periods to time deep in discussion around the real issues of BPM adoption and implementation. During these Round Table discussions, delegates learn from each other, facilitated by the world’s leading practitioners. They share their experiences and draw out the expertise in the group, before reporting back to the conference as a whole.

To help frame these collaborative discussions, plenary sessions feature a range of unique case studies and keynote presentations that highlight the best practices and pitfalls to avoid on the BPM journey. Other sessions focus on the value of standards and the best practice approaches toward their use. A Standards Body Panel session provides the opportunity to clarify the roadmap ahead, while a carefully managed Vendor Panel will explore the challenges and opportunities for technology vendors as we move forward.

The following firms are combining their talents to helping you learn how to maximize your BPM investment:

AFLAC, Allianz, BP Trends, BPM Focus, Bruce Silver and Assocs., Business Semantics, Capability Measurement, EDS, Forrester Research, The General Services Association (US Government), GTE, HandySoft, IBM, Intalio, Kemsley Design, Lombardi Software, McAfee, MEGA International, Microsoft, Oracle, PDL, Pi4 Technologies, Process Core Group, Queensland University of Technology, SAP, Stevens Institute Of Technology, TIBCO

The following standards groups and industry associations are also represented:

ACORD, OASIS, OMG, Supply Chain Council (SCC), TeleMgt Forum (eTOM), Value Chain Council (VCOR), W3C, WfMC

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