Investing in BPM webinar

Understand that first of all, I think that Bruce Silver is a very smart guy, and don’t take it the wrong way when I say that he is a less-than-scintillating speaker. He was featured on Appian‘s Investing in BPM webinar today, and his talk turned out to be just a slight expansion of his Intelligent Enterprise article that I discussed earlier; it wasn’t exactly edge-of-the-seat stuff. Maybe he should spend less of his time reading from a script, and more just talking about this subject matter that he knows so well. And although he was giving a beginner’s guide to BPM, I have a bit of a problem with him starting out his talk with “I want to talk to you about a new kind of software, business process management…” New kind of software? Not.

After the requisite 20 minutes of “independent content” that the vendors use to hook you into attending their webinars, Appian’s Director of Product Management, Phil Larson, stepped in and talked more about BPM in general and about their product. He was interesting enough to keep me on the line for the remainder of the webinar, and he had good illustrations of some of the concepts, including the prettiest diagram that I’ve seen to show how BPM and SOA fit together. Not the most complete, but sometimes you just need a pretty version to make your point.

Larson quoted from the recent Forrester report — “[Appian] has the widest breadth of functionality among the suites we evaluated” — although he didn’t mention the bit that came later in the same paragraph of the report: “However, breadth comes at the expense of depth in features like simulation and system-to-system integration“. He showed a snap of their BPMN implementation, which gets good marks off the bat for having the swimlanes running in the right direction.

I’m not sure if Appian will have the webinar available for replay later, although it’s not really worth it unless you’re a true beginner. I think that you can get most of the information from Silver’s portion of the talk from the earlier-reference Intelligent Enterprise article, and most of the Appian information from their web site.

3 thoughts on “Investing in BPM webinar

  1. I agree. I’ve always been very frustrated with the vendor sponsored webinar format with twenty minutes for independent content and twenty minutes of vendor content. I’ve been a speaker (both as “independent content” and as “vendor content”) as well as an attendee. Considering that you are presenting to a mixed audience, mostly of newbies, it’s hard to present any compelling content as an independent speaker.

    P.S., like I commented in your original post, Fuego model with the swimlines in the “right” direction. I just got off a PoC where we did all of the modeling with swimlanes going left to right. Which direction the swimlanes flow is just a user interface option.

  2. Sandy, I’m glad you were able to make the webinar. We were incredibly happy with the attendance and were thankful to have such an intelligent, respected expert like Bruce on with us. For those interested in viewing the full webinar it has been archived and made available at Regarding swimlanes, Appian gives the user the option to have swimlanes running right to left (most common) or up and down (less common). Flexibility in end user experience is an essential aspect of any human-centric BPM suite.

  3. Interesting that both of you (both from vendors) talk about the orientation of the swimlanes as a “user preference”. Not if you want to be BPMN-compliant, it’s not. In BPMN, or UML activity diagrams, or the old IBM LOVEM notation that both of these have in their past, swimlanes are parallel to the direction of flow so that they’re orthogonal with time. Swimlanes that are perpendicular to the flow create an artificial link between roles and time.

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