Modelling for the masses

Cheryl Hamrick of Tennessee Valley Authority didn’t really tell us about their specific usages of Proforma, but took us through how they spread the use of Proforma through the enterprise. From conversations that I had at the conference, it seems that most organizations are using Proforma within a relatively small group; other people involved in modelling might use Visio or other tools, which then have to be imported or recreated within Proforma in order to include it in the global models. TVA didn’t want to do that, however, so decided to bring modelling to the masses. Cheryl had a fabulous description of why you want to reconsider doing business modelling in the same old way (in this case, “we” is a centralized business analysis group, and “the customer” is the business unit under analysis):

  • We have to learn the customer’s current process from scratch, whether we revise it or replace it
  • Then, the customer has to learn how to interpret the models
  • We can be seen as an intrusive, external critic
  • TVA has hundreds of complex processes, which could take years to model

In other words, it takes a long time and annoys a lot of people. Furthermore, the models are outdated as soon as the analysis team leaves the premises, with no way to feedback changes or collaborate on business models, which impacts business agility.

Their answer to this was to train the business units use Proforma directly, and it sounds like they’re having some good success with that. The business units actually liked being able to do this themselves, and it allowed the central team to push out enterprise standards for modelling and have the business units do some of the modelling themselves. They’re not trying to turn the business users into analysts, but having their direct involvement makes for happier business units, and more accurate and up-to-date models.

Proforma is releasing a web viewing capability in their Series 6 that should help this out as well, since it allows for viewing and limited updates by anyone with a valid login, without requiring a licence for the web users.


N.B.: Windows Live Writer, which I use for creating these posts, has been giving me a lot of grief lately over my spelling of “modelling”. I know that this is beta software, but give me a break and detect that my standard dictionary is Canadian, eh?

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