BPM Think Tank Wiki

August 6, 2007

I think all those who attended BPM Think Tank regard it as probably the most useful event on the BPM Calendar.

Rather naively, I created Wiki to try and capture all the good thoughts that seemed to be circulating … on the assumption that it would immediately fill up with good thought provoking content. Also, as Sandy K points out, I should have created it for BPM Think Tank 07 (rather than as an adjunct to BPM Focus). But all of that is too late now – one day I wil get the hang of the new ettiquette that goes with the use of this new socially connected medium.

BPM Think Tank wiki can be viewed here.

At the moment, it is mainly the speakers and Round Table leaders who have access … if you attended the event and have a comment or two, please feel free to contact me and I will provide the necessary access.


Lombardi Shows The New Direction in BPM Modeling

February 8, 2007

Some of you bright eyed people will have noticed that Lombardi announced a new process modeling environment today called “Blueprint”. As you will no doubt surmise from my review Put to the Test: Lombardi Takes BPM Mainstream on Intelligent Enterprise, I have known about it for some time. I find it a really interesting development that I think will put a rocket under some of the current process modeling vendors.

An there in lies a set of perspectives that I have been holding off writing about for some time. I have for a long time felt a certain degree of unease around process modeling approaches that require a large amount of effort up front before any real value is delivered. In the 90s this took the form of IDEF0 modeling and SADT/SSADM style approaches.

I was involved in implementing and assessing these approaches and it always worried me how much work they took … and how quickly any particular repository got out of date. In one study I undertook, a rather large, well known British Oil company had decided to build a “process reference” model for their operations in Europe. That was a team of around 100 consultants (from PwC and Oasis) for over a year (work out the budget) to create a reference book of IDEF0 models – the users complained of measuring output … and how incomprehensible the models were … and how they had to develop a set of best practices to help people understand them (like putting all the ICOMs inside role oriented boxes to show who was responsible for undertaking the work). For anyone who is interested, this study was published as part of Process Product Watch (a set of modeling and workflow reviews that I published through the 90s).

I seem to remember the statistic of 6 months being how often you should revisit any part of the business before the models contained in the repository was out of date (and that was a number quoted to me by one of the original brains behind SSADM in 1996). If anything the problems have got worse – the pace of business change and evolution has only accelerated since then.

And that brings us to the modern day. Where we have BP-oriented modeling tools talking about BPM and trying to convince everyone that it is just a matter of a quick export to your favorite BPMS.

Sandy Kemsley, in her excellent blog series from the IDS Scheer event (I was invited but unfortunately could not travel this week), points to a fundamental problem I see in many process modeling repository-oriented tools.

ProcessWorld Day 1: Briefing with Trevor Naidoo of IDS Scheer – Column 2 – ebizQ

“This really came around to the issue of how to get those process models into an execution engine, or if anyone is really doing it at all. Naidoo said that what was moving from ARIS to the execution engine was a “process outline”, which then required some amount of work to hook it up to the BPMS engine (as expected), and that the main value is not in the transfer itself — which could be readily recreated in the BPMS designer directly — but in engaging the business in the entire process design cycle. This, then, is what I suspected: that most people really are redrawing the process models in the BPMS designer, adding who knows how many translation errors along the way, because there is insufficient value to bother with the direct integration. This is not unique to ARIS; I saw the same thing at the Proforma user conference last year.”

And Bruce Silver (who was also at the IDS Process World event) in his posting Almost Dead from Process World talked about two different classes of ARIS user – a group of business people developing a rigorous repository of stuff (about how they do business and the systems/data etc that fit into that); and a second group which are doing BPMS style things – automating their processes, etc.

This is an interesting observation that I think gets to the heart of the disparate camps we see at BPM conferences – where one group is all about the people/soft side and driving organizational transformation; the other is concerned with automating processes using BPM Suites and workflow tools to drive cost and errors out of the process, all the while reducing cycle time.

All very cozy, but at the same time completely at odds with what I think is likely to happen going forward. I have for some time complained that the fidelity is just not yet available when you move models from the repository style tool to the BPMS Suite (if we see widespread adoption of BPDM then this problem will be significantly redressed). Add to this the fact that to make the repository style approach really useful means engaging in a certain degree of “analysis paralysis” as users flounder about wondering where to stop. Part of the problem here is to do with how we represent processes (while flow diagrams are familiar they do not really tell the whole story).

The point is that what most people do is not the best practice. After getting stuck in a rut for while (modeling everything in sight), management is starting to loose patience with the current effort and the team is now being pressured to get some value back out. So perhaps they implement what they have on a BPM Suite. Only problem is that is is often pretty much the same as the original (mess). So now we have an automated mess. After a year or two, people suddenly realize there is another way of looking at the process and end-up throwing out their earlier endeavor, re-implementing a radically improved process that reflects their new-found wisdom. But along the way they have wasted several man-years of effort and untold lost opportunity space.

And this is what concerns me – the amount of time and effort that is needed to get to the point where value is delivered via the comprehensive rspository style approach. Which in a way, brings me full circle to the Lombardi announcement today. An easy to use modeling environment, delivered on demand using a SaaS model and supporting wiki-style collaboration between the protagonists is definitely a much quicker way of getting to value. [Note to Sandy – I too have been using the term Process Wiki for a couple of years … but I think Blueprint has a ways to go yet before we get to a Process Wiki]. Using this sort of modeling approach it becomes possible to quickly outline the process, flip it over into an execution environment (TeamWorks or some other that supports BPDM) and you are away laughing.

If deployed widely, it will enable a wide variety of users to engage in process modeling (something that is denied to them with virtually all other current approaches). Blueprint relies on the simplicity of the outlining approach and the ease of deployment.


It Has Been A While – BPM Training, New Site

January 26, 2007

I know it has been the best part of a couple of months since I posted anything … but it is all to do with the pressures of work and the need for a holiday. But now back into the swing of things and you should at least see a posting from me every week.

One thing I did want to let you know about was out upcoming training schedule for BPM Focus. The BPMF Learning Framework is continuing its onward development (now incorporating two key courses – “Starting Out and Rolling Out BPM Programs” and “Advanced Process Modeling.”

Starting Out and Rolling Out BPM Programs is really focused around ensuring that projects are appropriately set up and managed. The December session was very successful and we expect torun further events across the US and Europe over the coming year. The next public courses at this level will be March 21-22 in San Francisco and April 18-19 in London.

Advanced Proced Modeling – this is a new course developed in conjunction with the best in the business – the main original author of the BPMN spec (cant say who until we complete the negotiations with his employer); and Martyn Ould (the grandfather of one of my favourite techniques – Role Activity Diagrams). APM will give you all you need to know about BPMN, RADs and Business Capability modeling. It will be available online by mid-year. The first instructor led versions of this training are scheduled to be Santa Monica (April 2nd and 3rd) and in London on May 1st and 2nd). A full schedule of events will be available on the BPMF web site.

And talking of web sites, we have been developing a new site, which should go live in the next week or so … these things always seem to take longer than you expect. This new site will shortly include a BPMM self assessment tool, user log-in … to come is a wide variety of new services and content that registered users will have access to.

In the short term, if you are interested in the training, please contact me directly (miers @ bpmfocus.org).

Till next time – Derek


BP Maturity Models

November 30, 2006

Sandy Kemsley in her piece today about BPMM (BPMM tutorial) clearly hasnt seen too many of these things.

Our old friend at Babson (Tom Davenport) has one, Gartner have a collection of slides for $795 (I am sure it is more than that), Bearing Point have one (The
Business Process Maturity Model: A Practical Approach for Identifying Opportunities for Optimization
(overview free from BP Trends) … even a casual search on Google brings up a great number when you put in Business Process Maturity Model. But BPMG dont seem to make it to the first few pages. Every vendor worth its salts in the SOA space has one …

But none that I have seen have anything like the depth and breadth of that which is being discussed at the OMG next week (i.e. BPMM). Personally, I had a real “A Ha” moment (I know I have had a couple in the last 6 months …) during John Alden’s original presentation on the concept in June in Boston … I was writing (thrashing around) my paper on Corporate Agility and Process Innovation (available
free on the BPM Focus web site under White Papers). It was very much about at what point endless standardization of process needs to give way to innovation and personal freedom (the sort of thing that Jon Pyke alludes to in Why Workflow Sucks).