After a somewhat lengthy introduction by Marie Wieck from IBM’s middleware group, Rick Goldgar, CTO of the Texas Education Agency, talked about their process transformation. This was mostly about good software development practices – componentize, use a shared bus, agile methods, providing tools that empower the users to create their own solutions – but also about focusing on business process rather than UI when first prototyping. They start with a business process model of all business activities, then an implementation model to show what will be automated, then an operational model that translates directly to BPEL for execution. This idea of different perspectives on the process model is key to success at process modeling, but I hope that they’re using tools that allow for a shared model or some sort of automated translation, not having to recreate the process model three times.
In addition to their core WebSphere process modeling, they had the happy accident of using products that were eventually bought by IBM, such as ILOG and Cognos, so IBM is actually doing some of their integration for them as the product portfolio matures. Goldgar pointed out that it’s critical to choose technologies that integrate well; a timely comment after hearing a presenter from Scotiabank at a seminar earlier this week say that “most vendors integrate really well with themselves”. 🙂
In response to an audience question about the speed of system changes, he responded that many of the changes now are not limited by the technology – they can enact a change a business rule or report format in minutes – but by the users of the technology, who may need to be trained on the changes, or consider the full business impact of the changes relative to governing regulations. That’s the way it should be: the speed of technology change shouldn’t get in the way of the speed of business change.