Posted by: Adam Deane | 12/02/2013

BPM: when boy meets girl

BPM love storyFrom time to time I like taking a break.
I think it’s more to do with proving to myself that I’m not addicted to social media.
That I can get along fine without Twitter and Blogging for a couple of months.
It also ensures I don’t get stuck in a rut.

BPM is an everlasting love story. You’ve probably heard it all before…

Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy finds out that the girl is trying to implement a set of business processes in the organization.

Girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl sees great potential in boy.

Boy offers to build business process for her. He offers her a future together.

Boy meets girl’s father, father is not impressed with boy, let’s see results he says.

Boy works hard, boy works very hard, trying to please her father.

Girl likes the attention, girl likes the pretty process, she also likes to change her mind all the time on the way the process should flow.

Boy works harder, boy does his best to please the girl.

Girl’s father gets annoyed, he often points to the schedule gantt and the financial budget and snorts.

Girl sees daddy angry and gets upset. Daddy has a weak heart she says.

Boy works even harder, boy does his best to please the girl and her father.

Boy’s father gets involved. Don’t do all the work he says. I’m only paying for our costs of the wedding. If they want the bride to sit on an elephant then they should pay for it.

Boy starts to panic, girl starts to cry, boy’s father puts his foot down, girl’s father starts to yell.

Boy’s father stops yelling. Girl’s father stops yelling. Best of friends. Girl is also very happy.

Boy starts the process design. Boy turns into a man. His first grey hairs appear.

A sub-process is born, then another, then another.

Man can’t remember the last time he had a good night’s sleep. Lots of configurations and tweaks, Lots of responsibility. Lots of worries.

Years go by…

Then one day, one of the sub-processes tells him he has met a girl, a nice girl, a girl that is trying to implement a set of business processes in her organization.

The man looks at the boy quietly,

Good luck he says… you’ll need it…

Posted by: Adam Deane | 19/12/2012

Twas the night before Christmas

Christmas‘Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the room,
everyone was saddened,
and feeling a bit gloom.

“The process is stuck!”,
They all called out in despair,
It’s the silly business rule
that someone put there.

It first needs to be approved by finance,
and then by one of the managers,
but no is approving it,
instead leaving it to others.

A task with multiple approvers will cause problems,
it was all plain to see.
but not of one wanted
to listen to me.

The IT manager, god bless him, probably snug in his bed,
whilst dreaming of unicorns dancing in his head.
“Any of the managers can approve it” he said with a cheer,
“I’m sure it will work – it’s perfectly clear!”.

So in this step of the process all the managers were included,
even though I told him he was somewhat deluded.
No need to worry, no need to tell,
He was so quite sure, that everything will go well.

But none of the managers opened the task although notifications were repeated,
and the step in the process was never completed.
“It’s not allocated to me” they said with a taunt,
“Not my responsibility”, now that’s just what we want!”

So up the stairs to the finance room I quickly then came,
and I cursed and I muttered and called them by name.
You need to make a decision who is responsible for the task claim,
but they just shuffled their feet and looked down in shame.

A quick clicking on my keyboard, and a movement of my mouse,
I changed the task’s allocation to the IT manager’s spouse.
I’m sure this will work, I said with a shrug,
“Happy Christmas to you all,” and I pulled out the plug.

Posted by: Adam Deane | 24/11/2012

BPM Quotes of the week

On BPM and EA – Neil Ward-Dutton

In this context, the answer to the question “Is BPM part of EA or EA part of BPM?” is still not simple – it’s “neither”. However this is not what many architects expect. The heart of most architecture work as it’s carried out today is modeling, so it stands to reason that architects will see BPM primarily through the lens of business process modeling.

On BPM and Process Intelligence – Joerg Klueckmann

Identify what you’re going to measure first. Knowing what to measure is important because what you measure is what you are going to try to improve. In this case, you need to focus on the metrics that will deliver real business value. Everyone starts off with the right intentions but if you derive the wrong actions from the wrong KPIs, you might harm your organization more than help.

On ACMS and BPMN – Keith Swenson

An ACMS that uses BPMN or CMMN for describing process plans will never be suitable for the very knowledge workers it is aiming to support. The idea that you can get a specialist (programmer or process analyst) to code up process plans for the knowledge workers falls apart when you realize that knowledge workers need to “tweak” the process plans. They can’t tweak something in a language they don’t understand. The two-language approach divides the workers from the processes they are working on.

Posted by: Adam Deane | 14/11/2012

BPM and Karma

KarmaIt’s all about Karma.
Actions from the past influence the present, and present actions influence the future.

So I stood there thinking to myself, What did I do in a previous lifetime, to deserve this…

I was asked to do a session with the customer’s HR department.
I don’t usually do process analysis. It requires patience, not one of my strong points.
Patience to let the customer come to the conclusions by themselves.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and.. well.. you’ve saved yourself a fish.

Process analysis is always seen as a business thingy. Something to improve business performance.
Surprisingly, it has more to it that that.

I spent the day with the customer’s HR team analysing one of their processes.
You know the drill… business pains, objectives, process steps, as-is, to-be…

The process improvement was probably the least important thing that we achieved that day.

The HR team bonded. They opened up and talked about their process, together.
When we had scripted the whole process on the whiteboard, they suddenly realized how complex their work is.
Going through the legal obligations they suddenly understood how responsible their work is.
Going through the process details, they suddenly understood how intelligent and well-organized their work is.
Going through the steps to optimize the process, they suddenly understood how clever and professional their work is.
More importantly, they suddenly understood how important their work is to the rest of the company.

Probably my most important contribution, was making their job seem more interesting
It was a morale boost for the team, better than a company day out.
Karma. My job there was done.

“So”, one of the girls said, “Do you think that analysing a boring business process with us is a punishment for something that you did in a previous life”?
No, I replied calmly.
I am probably your punishment.

Posted by: Adam Deane | 04/11/2012

BPM Quotes of the week

On BPM and Visibility – Bill Markmann

During the next break, he pulled me aside and said, “When you were saying managers can see how much work everyone is doing and how fast and all that… can we turn that off?” My response was along the lines of, “I mean… not really? Measurement of process and user activity metrics are one of the reasons companies invest in BPM. I guess you could probably bury them, but outright disable them? I don’t see why you’d want to…” As the last sentence was coming out of my mouth, the pieces fell into place. If his management could see his output rate and compare it to his colleagues, well — that probably meant a few less hours of Farmville for him every day

On BPM and Upgrades – Jason Sharp

Every so many years, vendors need to bite the bullet and perform their own architecture reinvention and rebuild–something quite disruptive and expensive to their software suite, but that buys them another 5 years of leadership or at least relevancy. When they ignore that need and kick that can downhill, their product suite falls behind in modern features, or gets weighed down with “bolted on” features or inelegant integrations with acquired products. Anyone who’s spent years in IT has seen this with ERP, CRM, middleware, app servers–all types of products, and BPM is no exception.

On Process Mining – Anne Rozina

In my past career, I had worked with several process improvement experts, and mostly we saw the use of techniques such as six sigma, lean, or traditional processes engineering methods being deployed, for both understanding and improving processes. When we compare that to process mining, the big difference we see is that process mining takes you to a whole new level of granularity in understanding how the process works and also understanding performance of resources who are assigned to that process. I think it truly helps you get to opportunities that are not found by using traditional means of process improvement.

On Integrated Case Management – Keith Swenson

We are seeing traditional case management, the integration then is an attempt to reach out of the normal boundaries. One example is integrating medical with mental health. Another is integrating emergency room with regular health care. Another is integrating social work, medical work, and other disciplines. Another is integrating across families.

On Business Process Truth – Connie Moore

far too many companies have multiple versions of the same process and no single version of the truth for the ideal process. Sometimes it’s the by-product of many acquisitions that catapult the company into new global markets or new lines of business; sometimes it’s the predictable end result from years of siloed thinking created by a highly decentralized organizational structure.

Posted by: Adam Deane | 31/10/2012

A BPM story for halloween

BPM HalloweenIt was a dark and stormy night.
The team held a late night meeting in the boardroom to discuss the progress of the BPM program.

The wind blew, the rain poured, and the lightning struck. It was late and the team felt uneasy at being left alone in the building on such a night.

The storm had cut off the power to the building. It was an uncomfortable situation.
They had all heard stories of gruesome endings to previous improvement teams.
Myths.. but still…

The team huddled together to the light of a candle, trying to piece together the process change plan.
Suddenly, a gust of wind blew the candle out. A cold and eerie sound could be heard from the hallway: “WHERE IS MY ROI!”

Thump. Thump. Thump. The footsteps drew nearer.
The team gasped in fear and flung themselves under the table as the thud of heavy footsteps grew louder.

The eerie sound could be heard again: “WHERE IS MY ROI!”

“I don’t know” yelled the business analyst in fear.
A scream was heard and the candle was quickly relit
The team looked around. The business analyst was missing, nowhere to be seen.
In her place, the letter “B” had been written in blood on the table.

The frightened team huddled together, when suddenly another gust of wind blew the candle out again.
The eerie sound of a door opening, and a ghostly voice could be heard “WHERE IS MY ROI!”

“We are working on it” yelled the process analyst in fear.
A scream was heard and the candle was quickly relit.
The team looked around. The process analyst was missing, nowhere to be seen.
In his place, the letter “P” had been written in blood.

The team huddled together even tighter, when another gust of wind blew the candle out again.
The eerie sound could be heard again “WHERE IS MY ROI!”

“Help us” yelled the enterprise architect in fear.
A scream was heard and the candle was quickly relit.
The team looked around. The enterprise architect was missing, nowhere to be seen.
In his place, the letter “M” had been written in blood.

The next morning, management discovered the boardroom still unlocked.
The evidence of the night’s events were plain to see.
Three bloody letters remained on the table…”B“… “P“… “M“…

Posted by: Adam Deane | 20/10/2012

BPM Quotes of the week

On BPM and Lean Startups – Scott Francis

But the most important similarity between BPM and Lean Startups is the fact that we don’t know the answers up front. We have hypotheses – estimated problems and estimated solutions. The goal of a lean startup (or a BPM initiative) is to iterate until the problem is known, and the solution is known. Some of the traditional approaches just don’t work because the problem isn’t fully known – which is why we always say that incorrect requirements are the biggest risk to your BPM initiative.

On Processes to Start With – Sandy Kemsley

Interestingly, the question about what process to start with always comes up with I give a general BPM presentation; I always recommend starting with something that really matters to the business since, as I’ve stated previously, no one ever justified enterprise-wide deployment of BPM by doing a proof of concept with managing expense reports. I talked to MacKenzie about this at the break and told her that I agreed with this strategy, and she unknowingly echoed my opinion that in the grander scheme of BPM, no one cares about expense reports.

On Workflow Addons – Scott Menter

We are, at least, at a point at which customers are recognizing that the “workflow” add-ons to their systems of record just don’t cut the mustard. You can’t reasonably expect to deploy diverse workflow solutions from Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft, and mash them up to do anything useful. BPM bridges that gap. ERP and CRM and other three-letter suites provide the data that drive processes implemented with BPM. Some systems of record (I’m looking at you, CRM) may even be vulnerable to being supplanted by BPM entirely.

On ACM and Process Plans – Keith Swenson

When talking about an ACM system, and we talk about plans (processes) being made, we are talking about the actual knowledge worker making those plans as they work. The food safety expert has to be the one to make the plan, and has to do it directly. There is no programmer available to “program up” the process because that would increase the overhead, and would cause the safety expert to be less responsive to the emergencies. It really is the knowledge worker who creates the plans.

On Knowledge and Business Process – Chris Taylor

Knowledge is an equal partner of business process. All of the knowledge in the world won’t make something happen; it has to be acted upon…as process. Likewise, all of the process steps in the world without appropriate knowledge are out-of-context activities without direction. Not only have knowledge and process already reunited in many environments, it is a fair statement to say that an environment where knowledge and process are managed separately is quickly becoming outdated and wont be competitive against organizations that empower their people with reunited KM and BPM.

On Ad Hoc Processes – Scott Cleveland

Many pundits push the notion that a lot of business processes are ad hoc and that you can’t manage ad hoc processes within BPM software. I disagree – I have worked with BPM software that allowed me to document and manage ad hoc processes. Our process engineer had been configuring processes for years. Over those years, he had learned how to look at processes in other ways. At a minimum, we would put in rules that allowed a person to add an activity and/or a person within a process step.

Posted by: Adam Deane | 18/10/2012

BPM: Seeing Red

Most of the BPMS software solutions have a nice look and feel to them.
The problem is that BPMS solutions are usually implemented behind the scenes and need to integrate into the customer’s front-end software systems.

Apart from the common integration problems, it’s a bit discouraging when you find out that you need to dumb down the look and feel of your system, to “fit in” to their existing corporate systems.

The importance of a user friendly software solution is usually a low priority for IT managers that want all the systems to have the same look and feel, even if they are old and clunky..

Probably the worst example of a front-end system that I needed to integrate into was in a large company that had spent nearly a million dollars on corporate rebranding.
All the software systems had been redesigned to fit the new colour scheme. Even the building was repainted.

And the colour that was chosen was… BRIGHT RED!!! Ahhhhhhh!
(Imagine coming to work and seeing red all day…)

So why did the British wear red coats in battle?

Redcoats

During the recent royal wedding, millions around the world saw that Prince William chose to wear a uniform that included the famous British “red coat”.

Many people have asked, “Why did the British wear red coats in battle?”

A long time ago, Britain and France were at war.
During one battle, the French captured a British Colonel.
They took him to their headquarters, and the French General began to question him.
Curiously, the French General asked, “Why do you British officers all wear red coats?
Don’t you know the red material makes you easier targets for us to shoot at?”

In his casual, matter-of-fact, way, the British officer informed the General that the reason British officers wear red coats is so that if they are wounded, the blood won’t show, and the men they are leading won’t panic.

French Army

And that is why, from that day forward, all French Army officers wear brown trousers.

Posted by: Adam Deane | 13/10/2012

BPM Quotes of the week

On iBPMS – Jon Pyke

it pains me to say it but Gartner seem to be clutching at straws to say something new and innovative and relevant – this idea and this MQ misses the mark by a country mile.
The notion of “intelligent” BPM suggests that the “unintelligent” BPM systems are or were incapable of making routing decisions, reacting to external events, responding to deadlines, prioritizing work etc. Which is of course nonsense.

On iBPMS – Bruce Silver

In the MQ report, Gartner warns, “Do not compare the new iBPMS Magic Quadrant with the prior 2010 BPMS Magic Quadrant. They service different audiences.” With all due respect, that is absurd. There is not a separate audience for iBPMS.

On iBPMS – Scott Francis

One of the surprising things is that a couple of vendors don’t support BPMN at all. What concerns me is that here is how many vendors are using non-standard process modeling languages – but without being able to promote any special benefits for their notation. If you’re going to do something different, do it with a purpose. Don’t be different and inferior! Or different solely due to historical reasons or current lack of investment.

On BPM and the future of Work – Setrag Khoshafian

What’s even more exciting is that BPM technology can be also used with brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) to create the next ‘killer applications’ that will allow human participants to interact with smart devices. By interacting with BMIs, BPM can guide, coach, and provide intent-driven interactions for machines and human participants optimizing the execution of complex tasks. This could be used for the development of technologies assisting humans intelligently with much wider implications than simply automating work-related tasks.

On Process Improvement and Fear – Brad Power

Organizations with cultures that value continuous improvement are far better at changing their processes and staying competitive. Yet most organizations that make a run at continuous improvement fail to make it stick because of fear. As Zeus Inc.’s John Ryan points out, “You should embrace fear for the tremendous benefit it provides.”

On BPM and Mobile Strategy – Theo Priestley

A mobile strategy requires a complete rethink in process design, how both the user and internal resources are expected to interface with your business this way and how you are intending to service your consumers through that interface. It’s an entire service channel experience all on it’s own, not an extension of your current web strategy. Get it wrong, and as the term mobile suggests, the consumer’s business can easily move to a competitor who gets it. And they’ll have an app for that too.

First, my congratulations to Pega, Appian and IBM, the leaders of Gartner’s iBPMS Magic Quadrant 2012 that was published last week.

There has been some criticism of Gartner and its recent iBPMS report.
I feel an obligation to defend Gartner’s honour.

Gartner did a great job in creating this magic quadrant.
It is a solid professional research, created by intelligent people, for intelligent people.

Understanding the Background
The main problem stems from people’s inability to understand the enormous effort put in to the pre-report research: the dedication, the emotion, the choice of colours.
To understand the report, you first need to understand Gartner’s perspective on BPM:
Gartner’s research on BPM – Q2
Gartner’s research on BPM – Q3

Understanding the Limitations
You must remember that Gartner had only 2 years to write this research paper, and cannot be held responsible for mistakes due to the tight writing schedule.

You must also take into account the hardship in coordinating four writers into one research paper. This requires compromise.
Understandably, in order to please some of the writers, new topics may have needed to be added.
One must be also forgiving if a non-BPM vendor needed to be added to the vendor list.

I can assure you that Gartner’s choice of iBPMS vendors has nothing to do with conference sponsorship, conference sponsorship or any other financial incentives.

Differentiating iBPMS from BPMS
Gartner has been brave in setting the new BPMS standard.

Most BPM vendors might say that they have analytics, but how many of them can say that they have ‘deeper’ analytics, or ‘better’, ‘improved’ and ‘broader’ analytics.
That is the real difference between the men and the boys.

It is also important to note that one of the seven additions that distinguish an iBPMS from current generation BPMS is role-based user access, something that I’m sure that none of the other BPM vendors have ever thought of.

Vendors should be aware that although the traditional capabilities are still the same – the naming has changed:
- Business Events, BI and BAM is now called “Active analytics”
- Inline and Offline simulation and optimization is now called “On-demand analytics”

The importance of these new naming conventions compared to the old naming conventions cannot be underestimated.

BPM Gears

Analysing the Report
Gartner has done well to warn BPM vendors that even in 3 years – up to 30% of businesses will not be positioned to execute the IBO use case (note 3)

Gartner also noted that CEOs, CFOs, CTOs and IT managers are not the target audience to use this report to shortlist iBPMS vendors (note 2)

Gartner also emphasises that organisations with lower BPM maturity may find that BPMS fits them better than iBPMS.

Criticism
The criticism of Gartner’s latest report is totally uncalled for.
- that Gartner made up a new marketing acronym to be able to sell a research paper,
- that Gartner used fuzzy words like ‘better’, ‘deeper’, ‘broader’ and ‘improved’ to explain the difference between BPMS and iBPMS.
- that CEP has been around for more than 5 years and is not a new trend.
- that the research was based on only 37 end-user interviews.
- that Gartner has lost touch with the field and making up things on the way.
- that Gartner’s choice of the word ‘Intelligent’ was condescending and patronizing.

All of these allegations are completely unjustified, and it makes me angry to think that people could even say such things.
Gartner has worked very hard to create this report, in very tough circumstances:
- The analyst market is getting smaller.
- Nowadays companies are using Google to do their own research and analysis.
- Vendors are not seeing as much ROI in sponsorships, compared to the past.
- Gartner market predictions have not materialized.

Looking to the Future
I am sure that the next Gartner Magic Quadrant in 2014-2015 will change the whole new perception of the industry with the introduction of ViBPMS (Very Intelligent BPM Suites), which will provide powerful reading. It will be worth waiting for.

Gartner has been kind enough to publish their report online – here

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