Posted by: Adam Deane | 14/07/2010

BPM Simulation: Turn Left

Simulation satnavFollowing up on my previous BPM simulation post.

I believe that the simulation vendors are missing a trick.
In a nutshell – Simulation needs to generate recommendations to the managers and have the need for simulation guru skills removed.

Currently, simulation requires a skilled simulation guru to be able to set it up and analyze the simulation module correctly.
Most customers don’t use simulation or don’t use it correctly (see The Hype about Simulation and Optimization)

The common belief is that the market is not yet mature enough for BPM simulation.
“When organizations become more mature they’ll start using it”.
I disagree.

Think about the SatNav in your car.
For years GPS satellite navigators were only in the use of the military.
You needed skilled army personnel to set them up and run them.
Then it filtered into the private sector.

The SatNav tells you where to go and which route to take based on traffic reports.
It’s not 100% correct, but it’s pretty good,
Some of the nice ones that I’ve seen have automatic re-routing, route summary view, traffic/road-works alerts.
Some have “fastest route”, “less traffic” functionality to avoid stop-start driving.

The Point?
Simulation vendors should try to copy the success of the SatNav vendors.
Managers want to have a system that tells them what to do. A system that runs its own tests and scenarios and produces the best route.

Human Intervention?
Anyone that has peeked into a simulation engine has seen the complexity and pure genius of its calculation ability.
It’s like Deep Blue, the chess-playing computer that won against world champion Garry Kasparov.

So what do we do… we take the genius calculation ability and let the results be analyzed by a human. A human! Why do we need a human to analyze the simulation results? Why does a human need to intervene at all?

Bottom Line
Simulation Vendors – Don’t stop, we are nearly home. One more mile to go…
Remove the need for simulation guru skills to set and analyse.
Enable the software to run its own tests and scenarios and produce the best route.

You have reached your destination.


  1. Hi Adam,
    I think you are mixing two facets of the simulation world in your analogy: setting up a simulation, and analyzing the results. When it comes to simulation analysis, you are spot on – analysis could be made much more automatic and should lead to actionable recommendations. I also agree that the “maturity” argument is a cop-out – regardless of BPM maturity, organizations will not use products that are needlessly complex or unintuitive.

    When talking about configuring a simulation, though, things are not quite so simple. Simulation is very much a “garbage in, garbage out” type of system, and setting up a useful simulation requires gathering a lot of information about the business, the process, participants, systems, decisions and so on.

    Can this be made easier? Sure, and that’s been a design goal for us with analystView. But to compare simulation setup to your GPS metaphor, your car’s navigation system comes pre-loaded with several gigabytes of map data – the missing link between the old military use and the very simple modern use of the technology.

    Vendors can’t possibly provide pre-loaded data about your business processes along with simulation products. And in fact, between setup and analysis, the analysis is much easier.

    We think the best solution is a collaborative environment to make collecting simulation setup information run smoothly. That, or robots that roam the halls of your company asking questions. Either way, there’s no product-based silver bullet here.

    Colin Teubner
    Product Management
    Global 360, Inc.

    • Hi Colin,
      You may have a point with preloaded data.
      “Vendors can’t possibly provide pre-loaded data about your business processes along with simulation products.”

      I’m convinced there must be a way to provide basic scenarios to the simulation engine. Although each process is different, and the engine cannot foresee every scenario, I am sure there must be a way for the engine to calculate this information dynamically.

      I know it’s on the boundaries of AI, but simulation vendors must find a way to do it.
      Without it, I believe, customers will never embrace simulation, and BPM vendors will give up using it.

      By the way, congrats on the Microsoft Partner of the year award…


  2. Hello, everything good?
    I’m starting to work with BPMS in my service, does not possess much technical knowledge in the area.

    I am researching tools that allow simulation, free tools such as Tibco and Intalio. Do you know other tools that make simulation? What would be the practical attributes that I devirá evaluate them, I’m listing some as:

    -Realization of simulations
    – Detection of errors and warnings
    -Ease of experimentation
    -Statistical Treatment
    -Exception Handling
    -Identification of Bottlenecks
    -Analysis of results


    • Hi Nemésio,

      Sorry, I don’t have a list of simulation vendors.
      Most BPMS have a simulation module embedded, but built for the specific BPMS.
      There also are simulation vendors that just do simulation software (not BPMS specific)
      I’ve used Lanner’s Simulation engine, but would advise you to check the other different vendors.


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