bpmNEXT 2016 demo: Capital BPM and Fujitsu

Our final demo session of bpmNEXT — can’t believe it’s all over.

How I Learned to Tell the Truth with BPM – Gene Rawls, Capital BPM

Their Veracity tool overlays architecture and process layers using visual models, integrated with a few different BPMS (primarily IBM); create models in the tool for process and underlying technical architecture (SOA, rules and data) layers, and create linkages between them to indicate interactions. Direct integration of IBM ODM into rules layer.

Business Process and Self-Managed Teams – Keith Swenson, Fujitsu and WfMC

wp-1461264472735.jpgFinishing bpmNEXT with a presentation on self-managed teams in the context of BPM, not a demo. Contrasting organizational styles of “early structured” (aka “structured”) versus “late structured” (aka unstructured), with respective characteristics of centralized versus decentralized, and machine-style versus garden-style. Concepts of sociocracy (on which holocracy is based): a formal method for running self-managed teams that are structured around social relationships, aka dynamic governance. Extremely agile, allows ideas to boil up from the bottom. Replaces voting with consensus, where there is open discussion of options and everyone must consent that it is acceptable; objections must require a better proposal. Defining principles: consent governs policy decision making; organizing in circles; double-linking; and elections by consent. Self-managed organizations are inherently agile since good decisions are made where needed and everyone agrees. May be implications on DMN as to how decisions are modeled and captured. wp-1461264490831.jpgBPMN and CMMN can cover some of the domains of predictability; we saw other demos this week using other model types that extend further into unpredictable work, such as a process timeline view. Outstanding issues of whether BPMN should be extended to handle less predictable work, or if CMMN can handle this. Keith ended with the observation that this was the year of DMN at bpmNEXT, and issued a call to action for an open-source implementation of DMN execution with conformance suite; likely more possible than for BPMN since it is more constrained. A lot of great discussion ensued, and Keith will be spearheading a WfMC committee to look at this.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: Appian, Bonitasoft, Camunda and Capital BPM

Last day of bpmNEXT 2016 already, and we have a full morning of demos in two sessions, the first of which has a focus on more technical development.

Intent-Driven, Future-Proof User Experience – Malcolm Ross and Suvajit Gupta, Appian

Appian’s SAIL UI development environment. Build interfaces with smart components that detect the capabilities of the runtime device (e.g., camera, Bluetooth) and enable/disable/configure components on the fly. Supports a variety of UI rendering architectures/frameworks for desktop, and generates native mobile apps for Android and iOS. Directly supports their underlying constructs such as Records and process models when building forms. Dynamic content based on selections and data on form. Fast rebranding of forms with color and logos. Full functionality on mobile devices, and offline support via caching data down to device, and saving any offline transactions to automatically synchronize when reconnected. Switch between design (tree/graphical) view and code view in IDE to support different technical capabilities of UI designers. Not a focus on BPM per se, since Appian is repositioning as more of a process-centric application development tool than BPMS, although used as the UI development environment for their process applications.

Continuous Integration: Tools to Empower DevOps in Process-Based Application Development – Charles Souillard, Bonitasoft

Embodying continuous integration for live updates of applications, enabling easier development and automated testing supported by Docker images. Demo of simple shopping cart application created using BonitaBPM, with a combination of forms, pages, layouts, custom widgets and fragments that can be rendered on desktop and mobile devices. Underlying BPMN process model with human activities connected to UI artifacts. Versioned using Subversion. The continuous integration functionality monitors checked-in changes to the application and integrates them into the dev/test repository to allow immediate testing; in the demo, a new input parameter was added to a process step; the updated code was detected and tested, with testing errors raised due to the unknown parameter. Potential to accelerate the dev-test cycle, since code can be checked in by developers several times each day, with the results automatically tested and fed back to them.

Combining DMN with BPMN and CMMN: The Open Source Way – Jakob Freund, Camunda

wp-1461259584764.pngCamunda’s “developer-friendly” BPM for developers to add process, case and decision capabilities to their applications. Their DMN decision tables allows changing decision tables at runtime for increased agility, depending on binding specified by process designer. Decisions executed as decision tasks from a process are logged as part of process history, and visible in their admin Cockpit interface to trace through decisions for a specific process instance. DMN engine also available outside decision tasks in a process, such as a REST API call from a form to dynamically update values as parameters change; when deploying a table, both a public ID for executing the table and a private ID for editing the table are generated for the REST access. Nice traceability directly into the decision table, and fast changes to production decision tables. Open source, with a free (non-production) DMN cloud version. Extra points for creating an online dungeon game using BPMN, and playing a round during the demo.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: IBM, Orquestra, Trisotech and BPM.com

On the home stretch of the Wednesday agenda, with the last session of the four last demos for the day.

BPM in the Cloud: Changing the Playing Field – Eric Herness, IBM

wp-1461193672487.jpgIBM Bluemix process-related cloud services, including cognitive services leveraging Watson. Claims process demo that starts by uploading an image of a vehicle and passing to Watson image recognition for visual classification; returned values show confidence in vehicle classification, such as “car”, and sends any results over 90% to the Alchemy taxonomy service to align those — in the demo, Watson returned “cars” and “sedan” with more than 90% confidence, and the taxonomy service determined that sedan is a subset of cars. This allows routing of the claim to the correct process for the type of vehicle. If Watson has not been trained for the specific type of vehicle, the image classification won’t be determined with a sufficient level of confidence, and it will be passed to a work queue for manual classification. Unrecognized images can be used to add to classifier either as example of an existing classification or as a new classification. Predictive models based on Spark machine learning and analytics of past cases create predictions of whether claim should be approved, and the degree of confidence in that decision; at some point, as this confidence increases, some of the claims could be approved automatically. Good examples of how to incorporate cognitive computing to make business processes smarter, using cognitive services that could be called from any BPM system, or any other app that can call REST services.

Model, Generate, Compile in the Cloud and Deploy Ready-To-Use Mobile Process Apps – Rafael Bortolini and Leonardo Luzzatto, CRYO/Orquestra

Demo of Orquestra BPMS implementation for Rio de Janeiro’s municipal processes, e.g., business license requests. From a standard worklist style of process management, generate a process app for a mobile platform: specify app name and logo, select app functionality based on templates, then preview it and compile for iOS or Android. The .ipa or .apk files are generated ready for uploading to the Apple or Google app stores, although that upload can’t be automated. Full functionality to allow mobile user to sign up or login, then access the functionality defined for the app to request a business license. Although an app is generated, the data entry forms are responsive HTML5 to be identical to the desktop version. Very quick implementation of a mobile app from an existing process application without having to learn the Orquestra APIs or even do any real mobile development, but it can also produce the source code in case this is just wanted as a quick starting point for a mobile development project.

Dynamic Validation of Integrated BPMN, CMMN and DMN – Denis Gagné, Trisotech

wp-1461196893964.jpgKommunicator tool based on their animation technology that animates models, which allows tracing the animation directly from a case step in the BPMN model to the CMMN model, or from a decision step to the DMN model. Also links to the semantic layer, such as the Sparx SOA architecture model or other enterprise architecture reference models. This allows manually stepping through an entire business model in order to learn and communicate the procedures, and to validate the dynamic behavior of the model against the business case. Stepping through a CMMN model requires selecting the ad hoc tasks as the case worker would in order to step through the tasks and see the results; there are many different flow patterns that can emerge depending on the tasks selected and the order of selection, and stages will appear as being eligible to close only when the required tasks have been completed. Stepping through a DMN model allows selecting the input parameters in a decision table and running the decision to see the behavior. Their underlying semantic graph shows the interconnectivity of all of the models, as well as goals and other business information.

Simplified CMMN – Lloyd Dugan, BPM.com

wp-1461198272050.jpgLast up is not a demo (by design), but a proposal for a simplified version of CMMN, starting with a discussion of BPMN’s limitations in case management modeling: primarily that BPMN treats activities but not events as first-class citizens, making it difficult to model event-driven cases. This creates challenges for event subprocesses, event-driven process flow and ad hoc subprocesses, which rely on “exotic” and rarely used BPMN structures and events that many BPMN vendors don’t even support. Moving a business case – such as an insurance claim – to a CMMN model makes it much clearer and easier to model; the more unstructured that the situation is, the harder it is to capture in BPMN, and the easier it is to capture in CMMN. Proposal for simplifying CMMN for use by business analysts include removing PlanFragment and removing all notational attributes (AutoComplete, Manual Activitation, Required, Repetition) that are really execution-oriented logic. This leaves the core set of elements plus the related decorators. I’m not enough of a CMMN expert to know if this makes complete sense, but it seems similar in nature to the subsets of BPMN commonly used by business analysts rather than the full palette.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: Oracle, OpenRules and Sapiens DECISION

This afternoon’s first demo session shifts the focus to decision management and DMN.

Decision Modeling Service – Alvin To, Oracle

wp-1461187532237.jpgOracle Process Cloud as an alternative to their Business Rules, implementing the DMN standard and the FEEL expression language. Exposes decisions as services that can be called from a BPMN process. Create a space (container) to contain all related decision models, then create a DMN decision model in that space. Create test data records in the space, which will be deleted before final deployment. Define decisions using expressions, decision tables, if-then-else constructs and functions. Demo example was a loyalty program, where discounts and points accumulation were decided based on program tier and customer age. The decisions can be manually executed using the test data, and the rules changed and saved to immediately change the decision logic. A second demo example was an order approval decision, where an order number could be fed into the decision and an approval decision returned, including looping through all of the line items in the order and making decisions at that level as well as an overall decision based on the subdecisions. Once created, expose the decisions or subdecisions as services to be called from external systems, such as a step in a BPMN model (or presumably any other application). Good way to introduce standard DMN decision modeling into any application without having an on-premise decision management system.

Dynamic Decision Models: Activation/Deactivation of Business Rules in Real Time – Jacob Feldman, OpenRules

wp-1461187557576.jpgWhat-If Analyzer for decision modeling, for optimization, to show conflicts between rules, and to enable/disable rules dynamically. Interface shows glossary of decision variables, and a list of business rules with a checkbox to activate/deactivate each. Deactivating rules using the checkboxes updates the values of the decision results to find a desired solution, and can find minimum and maximum values for specified decision variables that will still yield the same decision result. The demo example was a loan approval calculation, where several rules were disabled in order to have the decision result of “approved”, then a maximum value generated for accumulated debt that would still give an “approved” result. Second example was how to build a good burger, optimizing cost for specific health and taste standards by selecting different rules and optimizing the resulting sets of decision variables. Third example was a scheduling problem, optimizing activities when building a house in order to maintain precedence and resulting in the earliest possible move-in date, working within budget and schedule constraints. Interesting analysis tool for gaining a deep understanding of how your rules/decisions interact, far beyond what can be done using decision tables, especially for goal-seeking optimization problems. All open source.

The Dirty Secrete in Process and Decision Management: Integration is Difficult – LarryGoldberg, Sapiens DECISION

wp-1461190003376.jpgData virtualization to create in-memory logical units of data related to specific business entities. Demo started with a decision model for an insurance policy renewal, with input variables included for each decision and subdecision. Acquiring the data for those input variables can require a great deal of import/export and mapping from source systems containing that data; their InfoHub creates the data model and allows setup of the integration with external sources by connecting data sources and defining mapping and transformation between source and destination data fields. When deployed to the InfoHub server, web service interfaces are created to allow calling from any application; at runtime, InfoHub ensures that the logical unit of data required for a decision is maintained in memory to improve performance and reduce implementation complexity of the calling application. There are various synchronization strategies to update their logical units when the source data changes — effectively, a really smart caching scheme that syncronizes only the data that is required for decisions.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: W4 and BP3

Second round of demos for the day, with more case management. This time with pictures!

BPM and Enterprise Social Networks for Flexible Case Management – Francois Bonnet, W4 (now ITESOFT Group)

wp-1461177318999.jpgAdding ESN to case management (via Jamespot plugin) to improve collaboration and flexibility, enhancing a timeline of BPM events with the comments and other collaboration events that occur as the process executes. Initiates social routing as asynchronous event call. Example shows collaborative ownership assignment on an RFP, where an owner must self-select within the ESN before a process deadline is reached, or the assignment is made automatically. Case ID shared between W4 BPM and Jamespot ESN, so that case assignments, comments and other activities are sent back to BPM for logging in the process engine to create a consolidated timeline. Can create links between content artifacts, such as between RFP and proposal. Nice use of BPMN events to link to ESN, and a good example of how to use an external (but integrated) ESN for collaborative steps within a standard BPMN process, while capturing events that occur in the ESN as part of the process audit trail.

A Business Process Application with No Process – Scott Francis, BP3 Global

IMG_9207Outpatient care example with coordination of resources (rooms, labs) and people (doctors, patients), BPMN may not be best way to model and coordinate resources since can end up as a single-task anti-pattern. Target UI on tablet, using their Brazos tools with responsive UI, but can be used on desktop or phone. Patient list allows provider to manage high-level state of waiting versus in progress by assigning room, then add substatessuch as “Chaperone Required”, immediate updates regardless of platform used. Patient and doctor notifications can be initiated from action menu. A beautiful UI implementation of a fairly simple state management application built on IBM BPM, although the infrastructure is there to tie in events and data from other systems.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: Salesforce, BP Logix and RedHat

Day 2 of bpmNEXT is all demos! Four sessions with a total of 12 demos coming up, with most of the morning focused on case management.

Cloud Architecture Accelerating Innovation in Application Development – Linus Chow, Salesforce

App dev environment that allows integration of Salesforce data with other sources, such as SAP. Schema builder allows data models to be visualized and linked in an ERD format, with field-level security and audit capabilities. Process Builder is an environment for visual creation of Salesforce-related data-driven processes, typically simple update actions triggered by data updates. User experiences created using Lightning App Builder, including support for mobile devices. Work-Relay as a more traditional process orchestration environment leveraging the Salesforce environment. Although mostly live demo, the entire Work-Relay section was a pre-recorded screencast, which was a disappointing violation of the bpmNEXT format.

One Model, Three Dimensions: Combining Flow, Case and Time Into a Unified Development Paradigm – Scott Menter and Joby O’Brien, BP Logix

Process Timeline as a GANTT chart view of process, where highly-parallel tasks must have conditions of precedence, eligibility and necessity met in order to execute, as the underlying structure for case management. An application can include a goal (objective, KPI) that can drive actions and impose conditions while being evaluated independent of any process. Define process as a timeline where activities have “start when” (precedence), “completed when”, “needed when” conditions plus due date, forms and participants. Drag and drop activities on each other to establish precedence dependencies, and group into parent/child relationships to organize sections of process. Can use predictions of completion dates for activities, based on historical data, as triggers for actions. Data virtualization for external data sources, allowing more technical designer to publish the results of queries/views on external sources for other designers to use in applications. Integrated form builder with validation rules based on the shared data and rules previously defined. External events of various types can trigger actions in an event-condition-action paradigm.

Building Advanced Case-Driven Applications – Kris Verlaenen, RedHat

Extension of jBPM from structured process to dynamic case management, seen as a spectrum rather than distinct functionality. Building blocks to add ad hoc choices, milestones, case participants and other case constructs on the core process capabilities. Workbench for authoring case definitions, including creating BPMN process models with ad hoc tasks and structured process snippets, decision tables that can include automatic task triggering. Roles are defined to limit access to data, tasks and functionality. UI for admins, but demonstrated UI built for end users using their UI building blocks that allows selection of the ad hoc tasks in the context of the case data; this extracts the structure data from the case definition that will self-adjust if new data or tasks are added. UI functionality limited, and likely useful more as a prototype than full production UI. As with other open source tools, more targeted at developers than low-code environment. Interesting use of BPMN ad hoc tasks for case tasks rather than CMMN, supporting their basic premise that it’s a spectrum of capabilities rather than two distinct work modes.

bpmNEXT 2016 demo session: Signavio and Princeton Blue

Second demo round, and the last for this first day of bpmNEXT 2016.

Process Intelligence – Sven Wagner-Boysen, Signavio

Signavio allows creating a BPMN model with definitions of KPIs for the process such as backlog size and end-to-end cycle time. The demo today was their process intelligence application, which allows a process model to be uploaded as well as an activity log of historical process instance data from an operational system — either a BPMS or some other system such as an ERP or CRM system — in CSV format. Since the process model is already known (in theory), this doesn’t do process mining to derive the model, but rather aggregates the instance data and creates a dashboard that shows the problem areas relative to the KPIs defined in the process model. Drilling down into a particular problem area shows some aggregate statistics as well as the individual instance data. Hovering over an instance shows the trace overlaid on the defined process model, that is, what path that that instance took as it executed. There’s an interesting feature to show instances that deviate from the process model, typically by skipping or repeating steps where there is no explicit path in the process model to allow that. This is similar in nature to what SAP demonstrated in the previous session, although it is using imported process log data rather than a direct connection to the history data. Given that Signavio can model DMN integrated with BPMN, future versions of this could include intelligence around decisions as well as processes; this is a first version with some limitations.

Leveraging Cognitive Computing and Decision Management to Deliver Actionable Customer Insight – Pramod Sachdeva, Princeton Blue

Sentiment analysis of unstructured social media data, creating a dashboard of escalations and activities integrated with internal customer data. Uses Watson for much of the analysis, IBM ODM to apply rules for escalation, and future enhancements may add IBM BPM to automatically spawn action/escalation processes. Includes a history of sentiment for the individual, tied to service requests that responded to social media activity. There are other social listening and sentiment analysis tools that have been around for a while, but they mostly just drive dashboards and visualizations; the goal here is to apply decisions about escalations, and trigger automated actions based on the results. Interesting work, but this was not a demo up to the standards of bpmNEXT: it was only static screenshots and some additional PowerPoint slides after the Ignite portion, effectively just an extended presentation.

bpmNEXT 2016 demo session: 8020 and SAP

My panel done — which probably set some sort of record for containing exactly 50% of the entire female attendees at the conference — we’re on to the bpmNEXT demo session: each is 5 minutes of Ignite-style presentation, 20 minutes of demo, and 5 minutes for Q&A. For the demos, I’ll just try capture some of the high points of each, and I highly recommend that you check out the video of the presentations when they are published after the conference.

Process Design & Automation for a New Economy – Ian Ramsay, 8020 BPM

A simplified, list-based process designer that defines a list of real-world business entities (e.g., application), a list of states unique to each entity (e.g., approved), lists of individuals and groups, lists of stages and tasks associated with each stage. Each new process has a list of start events that happen when a process is instantiated, one or more tasks in the middle, then a list of end events that define when the process is done. Dragging from the lists of entities, states, groups, individuals, stages and tasks onto the process model creates the underlying flow and events, building a more comprehensive process model behind the scenes. This allows a business specialist to create a process model without understanding process modeling or even simple flowcharting, just by identifying the relationships between the different states of business entity, the stages of a business process, and the people involved. Removing an entity from a process modifies the model to remove that entity while keeping the model syntactically correct. Interesting alternative to BPMN-style process modeling, from someone who helped create the BPMN standard, where the process model is a byproduct of entity-state modeling.

Process Intelligence for the Digital Age: Combining Intelligent Insights with Process Mining – Tarun Kamal Khiani and Joachim Meyer, SAP, and Bastian Nominacher, Celonis

Combining SAP’s Operational Process Intelligence analytics and dashboard (which was shown in last year’s bpmNEXT as well as some other briefings that I’ve documented) with Celonis’ process mining. Drilling down on a trouble item from the OPInt dashboard, such as late completion of a specific process type, to determine the root cause of the problem; this includes actionable insights, that is, being able to trigger an operational activity to fix the problem. That allows a case-by-case problem resolution, but adding in the Celonis HANA-based process mining capability allows past process instance data to be mined and analyzed. Adjusting the view on the mined data allows outliers and exceptions to be identified, transforming the straight-through process model to a full model of the instance data. For root cause analysis, this involved filtering down to only processes that took longer than a specific number of days to complete, then manually identifying the portions of the model where the lag times or certain activities may be causing the overly-long cycle time. Similar to other process mining tools, but nicely integrated with SAP S4 processes via the in-memory HANA data mart: no export or preprocessing of the process instance history log, since the process mining is applied directly to the realtime data. This has the potential to be taken further by looking at doing realtime recommendations based on the process mining data and some predictive modeling, although that’s just my opinion.

Good start to the demos with some new ideas on modeling and realtime process mining.

Building a Value-Added BPM Business panel at bpmNEXT

BPM implementations aren’t just about the software vendors, since the vendor vision of “just take it out of the box and run it” or “have your business analyst build operational systems with our low-code platform” is rarely realized in practice. Instead, systems integrators and other value-added service companies bring product knowledge, industry knowledge and pre-built solutions to make these implementations happen better and faster. On a panel about value-added BPM businesses, Pramod Sachdeva of Princeton Blue, Scott Francis of BP3 and Jonathan Sapir of SilverTree brought their perspectives on the role of service providers in the BPM market.

Points covered on the panel included:

  • Customers want to integrate multiple systems, not just build using the BPMS; typically, a BPMS vendor’s professional services group will work only with their own systems, whereas the service providers will help to integrate other capabilities.
  • Service providers can identify and harvest the best capabilities from different systems to provide an integrated solution, rather than trying to do everything with the BPMS tool.
  • BPMS software vendors typically underestimate the level of effort — and the skills required — to bring a solution to full implementation. It’s more than just a demo, and involves more than just the BPMS product.
  • Building a BPM product for developers and building a solution for end-users are quite different, and often the BPMS vendors don’t have the skills to do the latter.
  • Service providers often bring business knowledge about the customer’s industry, and can better put themselves in the customer’s position rather than just focus on selling the technology “feeds and speeds”. Part of this is created more innovative and engaging user experiences on top of the core BPMS platform, although (in my opinion), these are more likely to come from the smaller boutique firms than the large systems integrators.
  • Business analysts and end users can be involved in building solutions in low-code environments, although these are often simpler or template-based applications.
  • Service providers choose to work with a BPMS platform because it gives them agility and speed in building solutions. Often, they can build a solution that can be reconfigured by the customer, such as through simple rule changes.

Having run a boutique BPM service provider in the past, I have a lot of my own opinions on this topic too, although many of them were covered on the panel. My experience is that in situations that require full development efforts (as opposed to purely low-code), service providers can typically provide solutions that are superior to those from either the vendor or the customer’s internal development group, in terms of quality and innovation of technology and often in terms of business fit. Also, it’s hard to hire the same type of skills within a customer organization, since the ideal skill set for a service provider employee is a degree of curiosity that spans multiple businesses.

After lunch is the BPM analyst panel that I’m speaking on, so I’ll be back once the demo sessions start after that. In the meantime, follow the #bpmNEXT hashtag to hear the buzz.

Positioning Business Modeling panel at bpmNEXT

We had a panel of Clay Richardson of Forrester, Kramer Reeves of Sapiens and Denis Gagne of Trisotech, moderated by Bruce Silver, discussing the current state of business modeling in the face of digital transformation, where we need to consider modeling processes, cases, content, decisions, data and events in an integrated fashion rather than as separate activities. The emergence of the CMMN and DMN standards, joining BPMN, is driving the emergence of modeling platforms that not only include all three of these, but provide seamless integration between them in the modeling environment: a decision task in a BPMN or CMMN model links directly to the DMN model that represents that decision; a predefined process snippet in a CMMN model links directly to the BPMN model, and an ad hoc task in a BPMN model links directly to the CMMN model. The resulting models may be translated to (or even created in) a low-code executable environment, or may be purely for the purposes of understanding and optimizing the business.

Some of the points covered on the panel:

  • The people creating these models are often in a business architecture role if they are being created top down, although bottom-up modeling is often done by business analysts embedded within business areas. There is a large increase in interest in modeling within architecture groups.
  • One of the challenges is how to justify the time required to create these models. A potential positioning is that business models are essential to capturing knowledge and understanding the business even if they are not directly executable, and as organizations’ use of modeling matures and gains visibility with executives, it will be easier to justify without having to show an immediate tangible ROI. Executable models are easier to justify since they are an integrated part of an application development lifecycle.
  • Models may be non-executable because they model across multiple implementation systems, or are used to model activities in systems that do not have modeling capabilities, such as many ERP, CRM and other core operational systems, or are at higher levels of abstraction. These models have strategic value in understanding complexity and interrelationships.
  • Models may be initiated using a model derived from process/data mining to reduce the time required to get started.
  • Modeling vendors aren’t competing against each other, they’re competing against old methods of text-based business requirements.
  • Many models are persistent, not created just for a specific point in time and discarded after use.

A panel including two vendors and an analyst made for some lively conversation, and not a small amount of finger-pointing. 🙂