OMG Infopalooza

The OMG’s fall newsletter is out (although as my Aussie friends remind me, it’s spring down there), including notice of their technical meeting in DC on December 4-8. This will include a session by OMG BPMI on “Improving Business Process Management using a Maturity Model Framework”:

“The OMG BPMI Steering Committee has been developing a plan for a Maturity Model for business process improvement, called the Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM). This program will discuss how such a BPMM would guide organizational change, relate to existing OMG standards, and how it could be made available for widespread use and adoption through the OMG standards development process. The BPMM authors include Dr. Bill Curtis and Charlie Weber, who were lead authors for the CMM/CMMI. Dr. Curtis also authored the PCMM (SEI’s People Capability Maturity Model). Topics covered will include introduction and discussion of the BPMM draft, and how it can be used by business, government and vendor communities. Specific attention will be paid to how BPMM could elevate success rates for SOA initiatives.”

There’s also an interview with Phil Gilbert of Lombardi, who is now the BPMI steering committee chair within OMG. I realize that vendors on standards committees make valuable contributions, I’m just not sure that having one run the whole show is a good idea. Are other vendors worried that the standards produced by BPMI will favour Lombardi? Or is this just a great way of forcing all the vendors to participate in the process, since they’ll be afraid of what might happen when they’re out of the room?

3 thoughts on “OMG Infopalooza

  1. Hmmn – Sandy, I will try to be kind (as against terse and argumentative).

    Standards in the sw side of the IT industry come about in two ways – either one vendor gets so far ahead of the crowd that it becomes a gorilla and imposes its proprietary standards on everyone else (think M$).

    The other way they happen was characterised most succintly by the CIO of Disney at the last OMG meeting like this:

    “The dragon needed slaying, but the only way to slay the dragon was for all the wise wizards to agree on how it should be done. So every so often, all the wize wizards get together to work out how to slay the dragon” … I am paraphrasing a five minute after dinner speech that had everyone in stiches. ;-/

    But the point is that getting the wizards to agree is hard … most people dont realise what a monumental effort this all is. It requires that all parties reach a consensus on how somethign should be done.

    Just to give you an idea … UML … it tool a team of the best sw engineers in the world to meet (physically) for a week per month (every month, for a couple of years. There was a half day telephone conference call (plenary) involving everyone (1 per week, every week) and most sub-groups also met every week.

    Now in the process space we have a raft of things, approaches and ideas. We have around 350 vendors who claim some sort of BPM affiliation, to be honest, all the important ones who matter are involved … think of a name, at least 8 out of the first 10 you will think of are all involved in one of the groupings (OMG is not the only one)… IBM, SAP, Oracle, TIBCO, Telelogic, Adobe, Fujistu … even your mates at Proforma (worked on the development of BPMN at BPMI along with others).

    Neither of them want the others to steal a march on them … but at the end of the day these are volunteer efforts. It takes a certain degree of cajolement and leadership to help us all head in the right direction. And yes, Phil does lead the OMG BPMI Steering Committee at this point … as you know it was Jeanne Baker before that, and both Jeanne and I before the merger with the OMG.

    It would be really good if more users were involved (we have a few), and a few observers and consultants (like me). But the vast majority of members are vendors.

    People who chair groups like the SC are elected, and have to get re-elected if they want to play. The way they get elected is by doing something … rather than just sitting on the sidelines.

    So we really should celebrate the fact that we have a clear, visionary thinker heading up the SC, rather than attempting to cast aspersions.

    I know that your own insights and perspectives would be valued and you could take as active a role as you are prepared to take.

  2. Derek, thanks for your comment. I wasn’t casting aspersions specifically on Phil, I was musing on the tendency of vendors involved in standards committees to try to sway standards in the direction of what their company has already developed. I’ve been involved in standards committees in the past, and I’ve seen this happen; in many cases, that’s why vendors sit on these committees, not for purely altruistic reasons. And to call these efforts “volunteer” on the part of the vendors is a bit misleading: although they choose to sit on the committees, in many cases they do so with their time and expenses paid for by their company. Consultants like us tend to have to pay our own freight as well as give up time that could have been billable, so there’s obviously going to be less of us involved in the process, in spite of the great networking opportunities and bragging rights.

  3. “Bragging Rights” … yeah, there is that, but you also learn a lot. For example, this involvement in BPDM has helped me clarify a lot of things where I have struggled to get the right form of words and concepts aligned. And as a knowledge worker, it is that knowledge and expertise that helps me maintain and expand my client base.

    As for vendor employees … they are volunteers – in the sense that all these folks have busy day jobs and dont get paid to belong. The vendor has to sanction their time and pay their expenses.

    But you also have to realise that the vendors are also the ones who have the relevant expertise.

    Vendors trying to sway the stds in their direction is only natural. Implementing the damn things is an expensive exercise (in terms of software engineering). So you will always see vendors with existing approaches and investments trying to sway the community one way or another. A certain very large player is an expert at this (they only really want a standard that they already control).

    But in the end, the advantage for those involved is that they can be there at the beginning, leveraging a certain amount of inside track. But in the end, I would be surprised if Lombardi (or anyone else) did not have to invest significantly to implement the against a spec … whether that be BPDM (yet to be implemented by anyone), the runtime data model BPRI (yet to be finalised), the Organizational Meta Model (yet to be developed) … you get the picture.

    In the end, the market will expand that much more quickly if we can get these sorts of standards finalised and adopted. Think of the difference between the use and acceptance of mobile phones in the rest of the world as against the US … nearly everyone else adopted GSM, whereas US Mobile Operators adopted a hodgepodge of incompatible approaches.

    BTW – thought I would let you know I have finally joined the blogging fraternity (http://bpmfocus.wordpress.com/) haven’t quite worked out how to respond to this blog on my blog yet … but hey, its a start.

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