Alan Trefler – CEO Pega Opening Address

October 20, 2008

PegaWorld 2008

A great opening pop video – let’s see how far we’ve come. How far we’ve come is reflected in that a vendor gets to have more delegates at their own conference than the mighty Gartner. 850 people all gathered and sitting together to discuss their respective journey’s and approaches.

Alan starts off with a couple of anecdotes about history of Pega and how they started on Main St. Product has now gone through 4 from scratch rewrites – yet the core vision of the company is still very much aligned. A lot of M&A activity has led to an evolving landscape of customers – JP Morgan Chase now represents some 10 original Pega customers.

I see that Alan’s 6 Rs have been there for a very long time too (and I am still not sure that these 6 Rs do anything more than confuse poor Caddie the Customer). The core message – about Process Automation – where the business and IT learn to work together. All about allowing them to change roles, which is a little frightening for most. And a lot of this change of roles is about persuading IT folks to allow business people to get involved in real world implementations. It’s not about the IT and data, its about the business and their ability to get things done.

There is no layer to BPM – neither is there a rules layer … it is more like a DNA that needs to live in the body politic of the organization. Yes, how you control it and how insert it into the organization needs careful thought, but it is not some part of a stack on an IT architects chart.

Mind The Gap

The requirements specification is a dead and outmoded way of thinking about systems that hasn’t changed since the mid-sixties (something I have been saying for yonks). Its about allowing the business and IT people to work together, so that instead of starting with documents, the approach lets you generate documents as recordings of the state at that time in your thinking. It’s far more effective to use a model driven environment to support that – it’s also cheaper and quicker.

But the IT folks have human beings acting as some sort of typing pool to translate conversations about business intent into some sort of arcane language. Automating the programming is not sufficient – we (Pega) want to automate the business logic. You have to capture the entire user intent. This is not about putting a Pega system on the desktop, it’s about putting the user intent on the desktop.

Platform as a Service – enabling people to set up an entire Pega system for a part of their organisation, they can create their own SaaS enabled applications doing it easily and directly. To use Pega to put parts into your web site … to insert Pega functionality into your web site.


Another month, 3 conferences later …

October 20, 2008

Well here I am back at the Gaylord in DC. It seems like months since I was here last (yet it is less than one). In the meantime, I had good intentions of blogging about the BPM Think Tank experience (OMG Chicago Oct 6-7) … but that was swiftly followed by a workshop (Developing A Structured Approach for BPM) so I sort of lost site of all my notes. Its still on my agenda, but keeps getting pushed out by other things that must get done.

After that we had the BPM Technology Showcase – I sat in the sessions this time, shadowing a customer. It was really interesting to me to see some of the innovation that has been happneing. I have comprehensive notes from most of those sessions so I still intend to post stuff there.

Now here we are the following week in DC again, this time at the Pega event. I will post seperately on the notes I have been putitng together. I wont try and keep up with Sandy, but I am starting to marshall my thoughts and observations. What’s great about this conference is the really excellent conversations I have had so far … but that’s the nature of conferences, you never know who you will run into, or what you will talk about.

Gartner BPM Summit Report

September 14, 2008

Well the book (BPMN Modeling and Reference Guide) is out, and we sold out at the Gartner BPM Sumit last week (we launched the book there). People would come up, thumb through it, think about it perhaps but then buy a copy. Several of them came back an hour or so later and bought more copies … with phrases like “this is actually designed for people to read …”, “the rest of my team need to read this …” and “I must get my boss a copy of this.” And then some of the vendors popped their heads above the parapet – one of the larger names in this space is now talking about buying 2000 copies (one for each member of staff I guess), and two others walked off with half a dozen copies for their colleagues. So all up, we were pretty pleased.

My “BPM and Modeling” track session was well attended (a couple of hundred delegates), and only 3 people fell asleep. Of course, it was directly after lunch, and modeling is not exactly the most rivetting of topics, although I did try to make it as interactive as possible (given the situation). I reiterated a central tenet of my approach to process modeling – in the early stages of a BPM initiative it is important to contrast modeling approaches to drive understanding (rather than slavishly following just one technique such as BPMN). The key point is that you need to be able to change your perspective … to see things differently if you want to really understand the process. Of course, when it comes to implementing a process using on a BPM Suite, then you need to resort to BPMN to get clarity into the execution model.

On Friday morning, I filled the (relatively small) room at the “BPM and Process Architecture” power breakfast, which was always going to be a difficult task given that the night before was the vendor parties (free booze). Anyway, several people complemented on an interesting session afterward. I had tried to communicate the set of methods we use to move from thinking about Strategy to through to implementation. This session included an overview of techniques to support the clarification and definition of:

  • What business are you really in, and what business services you need to support that vision.
  • From that, what is an effective Process Architecture -i.e. what processes do you need to support those business services and how do they communicate with each other, etc. (referencing the RIVA Process Architecture method).
  • And from there, how do you get to the SOA-based IT Services that are needed to support those business processes (i.e. how they are implemented). What service interfaces are required for each component, etc.

The problem is that, when it comes to process architecture there are very few reliable approaches … certainly functional decomposition falls down a hole here. Most rely on what I call the “black art” approach. They make the mistake of linking Process Architecture to the current mechanisms for apportioning blame (the organizational chat) – i.e. the Process Architecture should be independent of the organizational structure. If you change the way the departments and business units are structured, this shouldn’t force a refactoring of the processes.

I ended the session with a short overview of Case Handling approaches … an area that I feel is poorly understood (especially by vendors who have little incentive to change the status quo). Case Handling is really a design pattern enabling a balance between control and adaptation (efficiency and flexibility), where users are left in control, yet the organization can still provide support for the vagaries of customer interaction (see “Customers and Business Processes – Difficult Domains to Integrate” on page 2 of the papers available on the BPM Focus web site for more detail there).

I attended a few other sessions, but found new insights a bit few and far between (for me that is, too educated I guess). I only caught the last third of the opening keynote (I was told I didnt miss much earlier), and found myself taking notes (as much as anything on the language used and the phraseology for concepts). I sat through an entire session on Customer Interaction and BPM (which I felt missed the mark entirely … but still managed to salvage a few points here and there). I enjoyed Dan Roam’s session (keynote on day 2) on modeling on the back of a napkin (using simple rich pictures to communicate). I felt that the session on BPM and SaaS (Michelle Cantara) didn’t go far enough (stopping well short of talking about the implications of the cloud on the way work will happen in the future). But there were other sessions on that (competed with my modeling session), so no doubt they got more into that aspect then.

The Vendor Showroom floor was the usual zoo – with people wandering on and off stands or generally ignoring the vendors while they consumed their deserts or coffee. This format just doesnt work for either the vendors or the delegates who want information on what the products really do. Contrast that with the BPM Technology Showcase we are running on October 14-16 in DC. The last one of those in Nashville was a roaring success as people got up close and personal with what the technology can really do for you.

Otherwise, I seemed to be either signing books or getting button-holed by folks in the hallway.

Busy Busy Busy … Books On The Way

July 31, 2008

Another litany of excuses. Anyone who has looked at this blog over the last year or so will see the very poor track record I have established in terms of keeping it up to date. The reason – just not enough hours in the day. But that is probably true of all bloggers, but I wonder how many of them have been pushing the development of two books, along side a full schedule of training and consulting activities. Right now I am supposed to be outside on holiday with my family, but instead I am deep into the last push to finalize the content for the forthcoming BPMN Modeling and Reference Guide.

This has been a mamoth effort over the last few months involving detailed collaboration with Stephen White, the main author of the BPMN specification. We have done our best to make it as readable and accessible as possible, separating out the detailed reference section from a piece about modeling in general (everything from history of BPMN, why/how to model, etc).

There is also an extended scenario based introduction to BPMN functionality, bringing in new BPMN functionality in the context of an easily understood business problem. Throughout the section, the business scenario is elaborated upon and the corresponding models and BPMN functionality explained. Through our training courses, we have found that people learn far better this way.

Of course, there is a detailed explanation of all BPMN functionality. And for most, who are actively involved in modeling, this reference material is sorely needed. For the layman, the specification is somewhat hard to follow (and that is being kind). In the book, we explore each area of functionality and provide a detailed explanation for its use, and behavior.

The BPMN Modeling and Reference Guide will be launched at the Gartner BPM Summit in Washington DC.I am doing a session on BPM and Modeling and another on Developing Appropriate Process Architecures. Neither of these sessions are designed for beginners (although the modeling session should be pretty acessible.

Incidentally, I notice that I am the only non-Gartner BPM Analyst/Comentator presenting at the conference this time around – seems that the same old, same old’s have finally been found out ;-).

Book 2

My other book, that has been in devleopment for the last 5 years or so is in the later stages of finalization. Mastering BPM has been an evolving piece that will probably hit the presses in a similar time frame. I still have a chapter to write, but it is just about there.

Of course, all of this book development work takes cycles out of the day and impacts the ability to execute on other things. Anyway … I hope to get into a more regular pattern of blog postings and updates by the end of next month.

BPM and Knowledge Work – Looking for Proof of Concept Partners

June 24, 2008

I am looking to prove that Business Process Management technology can really change team productivity, especially for teams that span diverse organizations. We will choose a half a dozen knowledge-centric organizations, and then build out a proof of concept or initial application for each of them that they can then take forward, deriving long term value and changing the rules of competition in their industry.

This will appeal to organizations in the following situations:

  • A consulting group looking to package and deliver their expertise via a robust, service-based model that creates a leave-behind environment and an extended client engagement.
  • Start-ups developing a knowledge-based product offering, seeking a comprehensive Proof of Concept to close the first round of customers.
  • Corporate teams focused on Project delivery or Product Launch, needing to capture their project/product artifacts and support evolving business practices.

A Short History

Business Process Management has been taking great strides—moving from the highly structured transactional procedures into the realms of ever more human-centric, evolving and adapting processes. Instead of limiting processes to the confines of IT (as the BPEL guys are trying to do), some vendors have been exploring providing better support for the roughly repeatable business practices—rather than always following a standard pattern, processes unfold and many fragments of process might come together to support an evolving business scenario.

But achieving a balance between the explicit world of processes with an effective collaboration and knowledge capture environment is no easy feat either. And all the while, ensuring the user interface is accessible to the average goal-focused knowledge worker.

Now, I believe I have found such an environment, one that can enable efficiency and effectiveness in knowledge work – all delivered as a service online (i.e., no hardware or software charges).

What You’ll Get

The organizations I select will receive a ready to deploy (internally or for resale), process-based web application. You will need to have your own IP (method) and some of the supporting documentation. I will personally lead the development, working with your organization to really capture and make explicit the processes and areas for evolution. I will build out the initial data structures and a set of processes that support a reasonable application. This should take just a few weeks (30 days at most) and it will include a full year of hosted service with a generous number of seats—and all of this for what you would pay for typical BPM product evaluation.

In the short term, please respond to me directly (miers at Tell me a little bit about your company and what you are looking to achieve and we can start a dialogue as to whether you fit into my research initiative. Following up our work, I will expect to develop a set of short case studies, so please be prepared for a bit of blatant promotion of your concept going afterward.

Itensil Dynamic Process Platform

April 15, 2008

Clearly I have been quiet for some time – busy organizing conferences and events and also spending more and more time exploring the world of Software as a Service (SaaS) as it applies to BPM. Some are talking about this conjunction as really a Platform as a Service (PaaS). Over the last 6 months or so I have been playing in the SaaS-BPM space – initially developing the process modeling training material for Appian, and more recently experimenting with a relative newcomer – Itensil.

A while back, I talked quite a bit about the Appian experience – a powerful application building environment that is now delivered On Demand. However, in common with virtually all BPM Suites, it suffered from an overdose of complexity – its just not really accessible to the common person.

Over recent months, I have been experimenting with Itensil as a vehicle to deliver both on demand BPM Training, and also to provide a robust collaboration support environment for BPM Projects. I have also used it to support the preparation of the two major events I have been involved in putting on – the BPM Technology Showcase and BPM Lisbon 2008. I think you would agree, this is not your run of the mill problem that we find in use around BPM, yet sharing many characteristics with difficult problems found in many businesses. With this series of postings I will explore what I have found out about Itensil.


If you are reading this, then you are probably already fairly knowledgeable about Business Process and will understand that I have spent most of the last 20 years focusing almost exclusively in that domain. Initially this was developing a product called Office Engine (I killed that off in 1992 – was not a good time to have the greatest thing since sliced bread), and since then I’ve been crawling all over, and teasing apart just about every major product out there concerned with Business Process – my main interest is in using business processes to drive the way that work happens.

Now if you are like me, you are probably more than just a little frustrated with the rigid and inflexible nature of most workflow systems. What I am getting at is the lack of adaptability inherent in most workflow and BPM systems – you are stuck with whatever process was described at the time it was built. Now while that might be a good thing for a big insurance company or bank wanting to make sure that a clerk doesn’t get creative with a bank draft, it is a cumbersome problem for the rest of us. It smacks of control for controls own sake. Even for the smallest change, you have to refer your application back to at least a business analyst (or worse, the IT department) and then wait for them to get around to understanding what you want, before they reflect that in the next rev that is rolled out some time in the future. Not much use to you as you try to deal with some unique customer situation that has just emerged in the middle of your major bid process; or the customer who says to the architect – I know we are halfway through building this hotel, but can I have a swimming pool on the 10th floor (the point being that the architect cannot throw away all the work to date and start with a new version of the process).

I am referring to a class of processes and applications that most Workflow/BPM Suites just can’t get anywhere near – collaborative knowledge worker processes, where individuals continually interpret the case in hand and make decisions accordingly. I have already mentioned architecture and bid management, but the examples here are endless – from emergency response management, to how an advertising agency operates, through to consultancy, medical investigations (indeed all sorts of investigations and research) … right through to what you do.

Adaptability is also an issue if you are building out applications – it’s just that now you have to blend adaptability and collaboration with more rigorous procedures – all of which somehow need to live together. I think this is the sweet spot for BPM and SaaS delivery. It is not the highly rigorous, slowly changing transactional procedures that you use to record and support your sales transactions, or issue credit cards. Those sorts of processes are what traditional BPM Suites are designed for (and are good at). But what they cannot handle are scenarios where change and adaptability are at the core – where change is part of domain.

Itensil Dynamic Process Platform (DPP)

The Itensil Dynamic Process Platform is really quite a different architecture from every other BPM Suite I have looked at. The developers have combined the ease of use and adaptability of a wiki, with the mechanics of Process. Every object in the system, whether it be a Process, a Document, an Entity or even the home page has a sort of Wiki style history feature. You can roll back to it at any time (make the previous version active).

Processes development has some real wow factors associated with it (see Instant Wows below). Each Process design can then be instantiated into individual Process Activities (each of which can be adapted by the end user on the fly if needed). There is also an instant, ad hoc team collaboration environment, which can be endlessly adapted and added to (really a special use of the process functionality that is embedded into a tool called “Meeting”). Any number of instances of a Process (and Meetings) can be rolled up into a “Project,” which has its own Wiki home page. A Process instance might belong to several different Projects. There’s a lot more than this, but I will get to that later.

This is the core environment that delivers an end-user accessible process support environment. Itensil describe the processes that they designed the product to support as “roughly repeatable,” where each instance of a process is subtly different from all that went before. It really is a nuanced blend of what I call “Practice” and “Procedure.”

At the heart of the system is a sophisticated document management and content repository that is all served up out of a LAMP stack – actually most end-users won’t care what operating system or application server platform it sits on, it is delivered On Demand over the Internet (although an On Premise version is also available for those who must have it).

But its not just an end-user tool set – you could think of the Itensil DPP as Process Platform as a Service (PPaaS), where an application developer or third party can embed their own IP and application know-how into a robust application and blend that with an accessible and tightly integrated user interface that is entirely delivered through AJAX in a Browser.

Collaboration+Process≠Workflow+Document Management    

While all BPM Suite vendors are trying to work out how to graft collaboration onto their existing workflow tooling, Itensil have taken another approach. From the ground up, they have added business process support to a rich collaboration environment. Rather than design-time ease of use (i.e. for the Business Analyst and Professional Developer), they have sought to deliver run-time ease of use and adaptability for the knowledge worker (i.e. designed for people like you and me). In Itensil, all processes are developed in the environment itself using the outline editor and/or the process modeling canvas. Each one is, in its own way pretty special (see below).

Itensil’s Organizing Principle is Adaptability @ The User Level

Instant Wows

Outline to Process – When initially envisaging a process, the user merely outlines the steps in a wiki editor (perhaps cutting and pasting from somewhere on the web or other office document such as Word, PDF, Excel or a Mindmap outline). They can also insert markers (associated file attributes) to create dropzones for any outputs that are produced, and specify  team roles, along with review loops and due dates if desired). The Process itself is generated automatically. Each step has an attached Wiki page that serves as the user interface for that step.

Instant Mode Switching – The user can immediately switch between “Run” mode (instantiating the process); “Status” view providing an overview of the steps and also provides mechanisms to re-assign tasks to team members, set due dates, jump to steps, etc.); and the “Design” view which will take you to a drag and drop modeling canvas and the outline editor.

On the Fly Process Change – When Processes are run an instance is referred to as an Activity, each of which is adaptable at run-time (as required by the end-user). Alternatively, the user might decide to save the changes to the default process model (affecting all future Activities).

Run Time Binding – At the Task level, the user could decide to bind a separate (stand alone) Process to a Task to further elaborate on how the work should be done (perhaps involving other roles). The user interface presents an interface that allows the standalone sub-process to be viewed discretely, dragging the artifacts from one process level to another (and thereby avoiding the need for complex mapping). 

WebDav – Itensil supports a network file system that is delivered via the Internet (while HTTP gives you read access, WebDAV gives you write access). Essentially, it acts like virtual file system, allowing users to edit files in situ (saving the new version automatically). It provides a network drive that is available at the Project, Process, or Meeting levels (indeed any level). In this way, Itensil can more easily support the virtual enterprise as users up and down the value chain collaborate in a safe and secure environment.

Object History – all objects in the domain receive the wiki treatment; each file, each page, each process, everything … has a history associated with it. Suitably authorized users can roll back to a previous version (making the older version active but still keeping the new edits). Even a process can be undone step-by-step to recover from errors or facilitate a change to the process. Of course, all objects in the system have a robust security model associated with them (setting up the system it is possible to control the default permissions on different classes of objects). 

Look Ma, No Forms – given that all steps in a process are presented to the user via a WYSIWYG wiki page, the system provides a natural canvas for presenting information. Users can create Process Attributes at any point, and simply drag them onto the wiki canvas in edit mode. Placement is just a question of where the cursor was at the time. In fact what is happening is a tiny Xform is created automatically to support that attribute. So if you decide that this process needs a “Budget” field, all you need to do is drop into Design Mode, select the step where it is set, open the Attributes panel, click the new attribute link, give it a name, say what sort (say Currency) and then drag it onto the canvas where you want it. The user will then be prompted to provide the Budget at the right point (which might then be reused at a later step).

These points have massive implications for adoption, design and usability of BPM – rather than having to predict all processes in advance, the user can decide how to interpret the task in hand and apply an appropriate personal template. The net result, better adoption by the end-users themselves (they are in control) and a more agile adaptable organization. The outline to process functionality provides a real step up in accessibility, putting it in reach of the average knowledge worker or manager – if you can work with a PowerPoint outline, you can work with Itensil.  

Itensil Power Features

So while all of this might sound really interesting but not quite appropriate for your complex business problems, the latest set of features delivered by Itensil change all of that. These facilities are primarily designed for the professional developer or business analyst; they provide the tooling to help build out Itensil into vertical industry domains and deliver discrete, knowledge-intensive applications. Further, I understand that the whole environment is configurable including the look and feel and the brand image delivered (meaning that OEM partners can embed the entire environment into their own offering). 

Entities – Itensil now incorporates a mechanism to flesh out your Line of Business (LOB) data structure, and establish the relationships between those Entities. Once the established, the system can then automatically walk the meta-data structure, automatically finding related Entities and presenting the correct information to the user at run-time. 

This is in contrast to the usual approach taken by most BPM vendors who rely on Process level variables (i.e. named value pairs) to represent LOB data. This traditional approach introduces significant complexity to the end user trying to work on developing a process (they must always worry about the mapping of attributes from one process to another and over time the sets of variables can easily become fragmented, further driving the complexity and cost of ownership). In Itensil, this is all done automatically.

Each Entity can have a number of XForms associated with it. Since the Entity relationships are already known, the XForms environment can also display the related Form at the same time as the primary Entity. So a Person form might also include the Address as a sub-form. When designing a Process, an Entity Relationship is easily established that can then automatically make use of this form – say you know that the user should enter a new person called a “Target,” then it is as simple as saying a New Entity Relationship of type Person is required, which is referred to as a Target. When you drag the resulting widget onto the work zone wiki page, the system will ask which Form is to be used (as there might be several different views), and hey presto, you have a sophisticated XForm delivered to the user (based on a robust data model). Of course, the professional developer can also resort to specialist tools for creating sophisticated Xforms instead of using the out-of-the-box functionality.

Integrated Rule Builder – Of course, developers might want even greater sophistication to create rule driven XForms that embed some special behavior. Say for example, if you want to display a different section of the Form based on whether the Customer is based in the US (the tax calculation might then be different on a state by state basis), or if the Customer was in the UK, then the form should include provisions for VAT (a wholly different regime). The point is that these form-related rules are executing on the fly in the browser of the user, yet still pointing back to the Entities and Process Attributes (speeding up the user experience and removing latency in the connection).  On the other hand, say for example you want the rule to run on the server to govern process logic, then that same rule or a new one could be applied to the process. All of this functionality is supported with a drag and drop rules builder that knows all about the associated entities and attributes (i.e. it is tightly integrated with the LOB modeled earlier).

Partner/Customer Mode – this interface enables partners and customers to take part in the process, yet doesn’t provide them with access to the rest of the environment. For example, if your application is designed to support the RFP process in putting on a conference, each hotel representative can be provided with this sort of guest access to upload their response and later respond to queries.

Organizational Hierarchy – the new version introduces a more sophisticated modeler, allowing the system to reflect any number of complex organizational forms. For example, this now supports a user changing department in the organization and the supervisor role is automatically updated. similar ssignmnets  meemversnymoerves as the have any additional questions or information that will make our call more usefulf a

Courseware Now this might sound a bit strange for a BPM Suite, but when you consider that this is a knowledge-centric environment (heads-up process support, as against heads-down process control), it is important that you have a way of training people and unlocking areas of the system once they are qualified. It is also a better way of ensuring compliance (in the sense that only qualified people are given relevant work to do). So Itensil have released a Courseware builder – where the course itself is a process – the wiki page is the user interface for delivery. It will handle embedded graphics, all your advice notes and any attachments (whether they be PDFs or bits of embedded Flash).

Training can then be delivered in-situ, as required at the coalface. The new Quiz Builder supports the user as she develops the process-driven courseware, generating multi-choice quizzes to test a users understanding before moving on to the next section or opening up access to some specific process or feature capability (you have to supply the questions and answers). People taking a course don’t get access to the process that controls it, but from the perspective of a professional training developer this sort of functionality is really game-changing. Quite apart from changing the rules of the game in Distance Learning delivery (better than endlessly regenerating Flash courseware), it is also a way of ensuring that applications and features are sufficiently understood.

Now I am sure it could do with improvement, and as I write this I am already thinking of areas where I would like to see changes, but once you grok the implications of this it is quite literally mind-blowing.

Excel Interface – Itensil now supports the capability to Import and Export form content to an Excel spreadsheet leveraging the XML format of Excel. While you could use the cut and paste method (as in Paste to Outline feature of Process building interface), in certain applications it is necessary to export LOB data into Excel for offline and disconnected working (or even just to take a snapshot of a case in order to lock down the data as an evidential artifact).

So in these ways, Itensil allows the developer to deliver structured LOB information and applications alongside the knowledge worker collaborative environment that distinguishes it from the competition.

The Big Idea

It really is all about leveraging the power of process to knowledge workers in a rich collaborative space in the cloud. Personally, I think Itensil have really brought something fundamentally new to the market. The reality is that this sort of end-user accessibility really does change the game. Knowledge workers can now do it for themselves, seamlessly transitioning from the freeform collaboration environment of a wiki to the structured work that some of their processes demand. At the same time, Itensil have delivered an evolving work environment that is under the control of the users who most need it – the knowledge workers themselves. As a result, the cost of ownership for an application is dramatically lower – instead of always having to refer back to a Business Analyst or IT developer.

For the industry, I think we are going to see Itensil define a new segment in the BPMS market that is currently massively underserved. Knowledge workers are poorly served – they quickly revert to email as most BPM Suites fail to deliver the necessary adaptability. And we shouldn’t forget that all of this is delivered On Demand, in a multi-tenant platform (i.e. all you need is a web browser and an Internet connection). The Itensil combination of Web 2.0 + Collaboration + BPM is quite literally showing the way forward and I think, starting to beat up the competition.

BPM Awards and Technology Showcase

January 16, 2008

The BPM Awards and Technology Showcase is taking shape and it’s promising to be quite an interesting affair. Located at the Sheraton in Downtown Nashville, it is easy (and cheap) for the whole US to get there, it will take place in late February – 25th through the 27th.

In my opinion, participation by any organisation with a BPM project(s) on its plate (current or planned), will save hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars – through the stunning case studies, through exploration of what the vendors have to offer in one concentrated educational program; and through the all inclusive workshops focusing on implementation best practices. Although it has run successfully in Europe over several years, this format is relatively new for the BPM market in the US.

In the contrast to the traditional conference+trade show model – where you will find a mix of hypothetical talks and vendor marketing – this is event is focus on providing pragmatic and actionable information specifically about BPM technology and its implementation. Rather than trying to glean scraps of insight in the chaos of an exhibition showroom floor, this event is primarily based around structured sessions that focus on how products are used and deployed (and the best practices, challenges and pitfalls along the way).

Of course it is much more than that:

On the Monday (Feb 25th) we have a “BPM in Practice” day where you’ll get the big picture in a Keynote from Connie Moore of Forrester. We then segue immediately into a selection of the top North American case studies from the 2007 Global Excellence Awards in BPM and Workflow (I think the best ones). This is where we have the real 24 Carat Gold – three brand new case studies from Wells Fargo, Louisiana Supreme Court and Geisinger Health – all focused on the reality of modern BPM implementation. These case studies are delivered by the business and IT people themselves talking about their experiences – setting the scene for what is to follow over the next 2 days.

Then, over a Gala lunch, we have the Awards Ceremony itself (where the shiny stuff get handed out to the winners). This is quickly followed by a joint presentation from Nathaniel Palmer and I – where we discuss the Technology Assessment Framework (everybody will have copies of all the product reports by this time).

We then all go to a choice of 3 workshops – I will be running a concentrated form of our “Developing A Structured Approach for BPM Project Success” course, and if Steve White gets the permission to come from his masters at IBM, he will run a shortened version of the BPM Process Modeling Fundamentals (focused on BPMN). In parallel the leading lights at the WfMC will run their own session, taking a more general view of BPM (I expect they will also talk about the role of XPDL). Its worth noting that these workshops are usually delivered as conference add-ons – the difference with this event is that they are all included in the very cheap price of attendance ($295 if you get in quickly).

On Tuesday and Wednesday (26th and 27th) we have the Showcase itself. On each day we start with a short plenary (who’s on when, showing what); then we immediately split into 5 tracks. On each track there are six sessions during the day (three different vendors giving two sessions each on each track). The delegates self select the sessions that or interest to them. Each session is 40-45 minutes, with a 5 minute break to get to the next session (we do let you have breaks for coffee and lunch).

But the real difference here is that there is no exhibition, just concentrated truth telling from the vendors as they explain and demonstrate how their products are used for real. These are up close and personal sessions where the 25-30 people in the audience can pop any question they like.

And as you’ll discover (assuming you come), the whole thing quickly becomes very interactive.  Everyone realizes it is OK to ask questions and very soon we are all learning from each other. This opportunity to interact is further bolstered by the birds of a feather lunch tables and Round Table discussions on the Tuesday (where each table will explore a particular area).

Moreover, the format ensures it is a level playing field for all (rather than who can afford the biggest stand). Vendors range from the relatively small innovation leaders such as Ascent, BizAgi and Itensil, through the established pure-play BPM vendors (such as Lombardi and Appian) then into the big guys like TIBCO, and we anticipate BEA/Oracle will also have a presence.

To cap it all – we end on the Tuesday with two different vendor shoot-out scenarios, where participating vendors show how their tool was used to build out a specific example. We will have two different flavors here – one aimed at the more traditional transactional example (human & system centric), the other describing a knowledge worker scenario (human collaboration oriented).

So if you are interested – check out the Event Brochure here. The early-bird registration ends on Friday (currently at just $295) and can be accessed directly here. We still have a couple of slots left open for vendors to participate, so if you are interested, contact me directly.