ProcessWorld 2008: Michael Blechar, Gartner

You would think that I had enough of Gartner last week in Las Vegas, but here I am at yet another Gartner presentation.

Although Gartner is a big proponent of buying everything in a BPM suite (including modeling) from one vendor, Michael Blechar is here to play nice and talk about best-of-breed modeling and analysis using tools such as ARIS — even going so far as to refer to it as the “Cadillac of BPA”. They completely underestimated the interest in this track, and the room is standing room only.

He looked at the three major types of BPA tool buyers: business process modelers, (enterprise)architects, and BPMS modelers (who are concerned with the actual implementation within a BPMS execution environment, hence focused on design and construction). BPMS modelers typically start with the modeling tool provided by the BPMS, then may add in a more comprehensive modeling environment after implementing one or two processes and finding that the modeling tool is inadequate, whereas business process modelers are typically creating models independent of any particular execution implementation. In many cases, business process modelers are starting with Microsoft Visio because it’s the most readily available tool, but find that they need something much more robust for modeling, providing functionality such as activity-based costing and simulation.

He reviewed the players in the recently-published BPA magic quadrant, where IDS Scheer sits as the clear top-right leader. This market is undergoing a lot of consolidation, mostly as BPA vendors are being acquired by BPMS vendors; surprisingly, the magic quadrant only has leaders and niche players (bottom left), but nothing in the challengers or visionaries quadrants. Personally, I wouldn’t have put Microsoft (with Visio) in the leaders quadrant; although they are clearly a dominant force in the market, their product is pretty low-end compared to the real contenders: IDS Scheer, Proforma, Mega, iGrapfx, Telelogic and Casewise.

Blechar is talking about how in the future, Microsoft and others will allow you to create models that actually execute without writing code, but isn’t this what almost all BPMS products do now? There’s some confusing stuff going on in this presentation from a BPMS viewpoint, such as talk about the convergence of BPMN and UML, and an over-emphasis on BPEL as a cornerstone.

He finished up with some recommendations:

  • When BPM initiatives reach the point of requiring business architecture definition — or there is a need to visualize, simulate, animate or automate business process as models — BPA tools should be implemented.
  • As business look to implement business processes in a service-oriented architecture, there is an increased urgency to collaborate more closely with IT archtiects and analysts including shared models.
  • Be pragmatic in scoping modeling efforts: do not try to “boil the ocean” in terms of modeling the “as-is” and “to-be” business architecture and processes.
  • Ensure the key business roles of business process owner, architect and analyst are staffed and enabled.
  • Monitor standards efforts and be prepared to use increased model automation tools and techniques.
  • Match BP methods and tools to the primary focus group of usrs – be they BP modelers, architects or BPMS modelers.
  • Monitor opportunities to purchase pre-built models to jump-start your BPI projects.

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