The top Column 2 posts of 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my post that has had the most visits over all time, a 2007 post on policies, procedures, processes and rules.

Here’s what was the most popular in 2020:

  1. That same 2007 post, Policies, procedures, processes and rules. Obviously, this theme strikes deep with a broad range of people, and a recent comment on that post was from someone who had used it as a source in developing definitions for the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
  2. An even older post from 2005, Adaptive approaches. This is about application development and deployment methodologies, and would now be called “Agile”. I also talk about my usual method of “get something simpler into production sooner”, which would now be called “minimum viable product”. The only thing that has really changed here is terminology.
  3. The first product-related post, my 2012 post Introduction to AWD 10. I was at the user conference for DST Systems, now part of SS&C Technologies, and wrote about what I saw at a session where they presented the new product version.
  4. Another terminology post, this one from 2017: What’s in a name? BPM and DPA. This was prompted by Forrester’s move to relabel business process management (BPM) systems as Digital Process Automation (DPA), and the ongoing confusion in terminology. This problem continues today, with Gartner sticking to the term iBPMS (Intelligent BPM Suite) but shifting it to mean low-code application development platform.
  5. The first that was originally published in 2019, Snowed in at the OpenText Analyst Summit 2019. In the midst of a massive snowstorm (I arrived on one of the last flights before the airport shut down), I attended OpenText’s analyst meetup in Boston, and this post was on the main keynote featuring CEO Mark Barrenechea’s vision for their future product direction.
  6. From the 2019 bpmNEXT conference, bpmNEXT 2019 demos: microservices, robots and intentional processes with Bonitasoft, Signavio and Flowable. My conference live-blogging is usually popular with those who can’t make it to the conference themselves, but this post was likely read more than most because it covered the Flowable chatbot + CMMN demo that went on to win the “Best in Show” award.
  7. Another throwback to 2005, Shallow vs. Deep Knowledge. I was writing in response to a post from EDS that said that they believe that someone working on a business application based on vendor components really had to see the vendor’s source code to do this right. I disagreed.
  8. A post on service-oriented architecture standards from 2009, The Open Group’s Service Integration Maturity Model and SOA Governance Framework. This was the result of a briefing that I had with them in advance of the standards’ release; to be honest, I’ve never used these frameworks and have no idea how broadly they were adopted.
  9. A post from this year’s academic BPM conference in Vienna, Day 1 @BPMConf opening keynote: Kalle Lyytinen on the role of BPM in design and business model innovation. The keynote discussed the concept of digital intensity, namely, the degree to which digitalization is required to perform a task, and how technology is changing the way that we do things on a micro level.
  10. Another post from the academic BPM conference, Workshop at @BPMConf on BPM in the era of Digital Innovation and Transformation. This workshop day preceded the keynote mentioned above, and covered a number of talks on digital transformation. This is the only one of the top 10 posts for 2019 that covers a presentation that I made, since I was invited to give a short talk at the end of the workshop.

I blogged quite a bit less in 2019 (in fact, my blogging has been a bit slow the past couple of years) although I had a lot of activity around conferences and a few product briefings. I’ve been fairly active on Twitter, and I’m looking at ways to bring together some of the links that I post there onto the blog for more discussion.

Looking forward to 2020!

Policies, procedures, processes and rules (redux)

For some reason, the most popular post of all time on this blog is from 2007, on policies, procedures, process and rules: definitions, differences, and how processes and decisions intersect both in modeling/documentation and implementation. If I look at the past year, quarter, month or week, it’s still the most viewed post in those time periods, even though it’s over 12 years old. Interesting to see what is still relevant after all this time, since blog posts typically have a half-life of only a couple of days.

A few days ago, someone named Jason Gorman (who did not note their affiliation) added a lengthy comment to the post, describing how he is reviewing the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide, and has documented their definitions of policy, process, procedure and rule based on various sources including my original blog post. Glad I could be of service!

Conway’s Law and end-to-end processes – my new post on the @Trisotech blog

I’ve written another post for the Trisotech blog on end-to-end processes, and how Conway’s Law can prevent good horizontal integration across your organization’s processes. Conway’s Law is an adage that states that organizations design systems that mirror their own communication structure: basically, if your interdepartmental communications is not that great, the underlying systems are unlikely to do a good job of it either.

I go into some detail of the problems that occur when an organization is functionality siloed with poor communication between areas, and how you can start to find your way out of it.

You can find all of the posts that I’m creating for them here.

DecisionCAMP 2020 Call for Presentations

image001I really enjoyed my first trip to DecisionCAMP earlier this year, and not just because it was in beautiful Bolzano. In 2020, it will be Oslo, Norway in late June – just after the summer solstice, which is a great time to visit a northern country where the sun (almost) never sets at that time of year.

You can check out all the information on the conference at the DecsionCAMP 2020 website and submit your presentation proposal based on the Call for Presentations.

The Need for Goal Alignment — on the @trisotech blog

I’ll be writing a few guest posts over on the Trisotech blog, starting with this one on goal alignment through the hierarchy of your orgnization to make sure that you’re not only doing the right thing, but doing the thing right. As I mention over there, I have this conversation with almost every enterprise client that I talk to, and thought it would be good to put down some thoughts around a goal alignment structure like this:

This is (techinically) sponsored content, although I don’t discuss Trisotech products at all, so I’m not reprinting it here but encourage you to head over there and give it a read.

How to (not) become a digital enterprise – @jakobfreund CamundaCon keynote

I thought that I was done with my CamundaCon coverage, but noticed that Jakob Freund is blogging more details about what he covered in his keynote. I spent most of his keynote behind the curtain waiting for my turn to speak, but was able to see it again when they posted the video of his presentation.

He’s doing a five-part series on the themes that he covered, based in part on their experiences with their clients over the past years, with the first two available here:

  • Part 1: Intro to the four key elements of becoming a digital enterprise
  • Part 2: The first key element, customer-focused innovation

If he keeps to his posting schedule, the next one should be up tomorrow.

My upcoming webinar with @Camunda on scalable business automation and microservices

Last month at CamundaCon2019, I gave a keynote on using a BPMS and microservices to build a business automation platform. It’s not for everyone, but I specified some of the use cases and what needs to go into it. You can see the recording here:

On November 12, I’ll be expanding on some of those themes in a webinar sponsored by Camunda:

  • Why a monolithic architecture, whether a legacy application or an all-in-one business automation platform, lacks the agility and scalability required for businesses to survive and thrive
  • How a best-of-breed business automation platform can be assembled from a set of components in a microservices architecture
  • How to migrate from your legacy systems to a best-of-breed business automation platform

In particular, the new bit on migrating legacy systems is drawn from my best practices developed over years of consulting as a systems architect/designer.

You can sign up for the webinar here; if you can’t make it on that date, sign up anyway and you’ll get a link to the recording.

Summary of DecisionCAMP from @DecisionMgtCom

It seems like just yesterday that we were in beautiful Bolzano, but I’ve been back at my desk for more than a month and still wading through some of the news stories from when I was away.

I noticed this wrapup of the sessions from Jacob Feldman which includes a link to all of the presentation slide decks, plus a more in-depth explanation of his presentation.

He also covers some of the particularly interesting topics in more detail, including the need for DMN 2.0, the user-friendliness of FEEL and several real-world use cases.

I also had a note from Dario Campagna regarding the post that I wrote about his presentation; I’ve updated it to reflect that the work that he presented is part of the COMPOSELECTOR project, to which ESTECO is a contributor. My apologies for the omission of the overarching project in the original version of the post, although I was live-blogging so some detail is always missed.

See me on a webinar with @Alfresco and @tsgrp discussing intelligent insurance claims management

I’m back in my office after the European tour — three weeks, four countries and three conferences — and will be presenting on a webinar this Thursday hosted by Alfresco. I’ll be having a conversation with Dave Giordano, founder and insurance practice lead at Technology Services Group, on how to make insurance claims work better for insurance companies and their customers.

Our expected topics of conversation include:

  • How claims have become a competitive differentiator in insurance
  • Challenges in claims processing
  • Streamlining the ingestion and recognition of digital media and other content
  • Customer use cases for improving efficiency and automation

You can sign up for the webinar here. As always, if you have any particular questions or comments that you want to send to me ahead of time, just comment on this post or send me a tweet.

DecisonCAMP 2019: Decision test tools, complex payroll decisioning, and decisions as a service

Modeling Decisions With Embedded Testing. Daniel Schmitz-Hübsch and Ulrich Striffler, Materna

Daniel Schmitz-Hübsch and Ulrich Striffler of Materna, who presented earlier this week on whether FEEL is friendly enough, returned to discuss testing of decision models using a tool that they have developed. The typical life cycle for developing and testing decision models has a business analyst modeling the decisions and creating test cases, but having to pass it off to a developer for executing the test cases and drawing conclusions to feed back into the design. To cut the developer out of the cycle — and therefore shorten the lifecycle — they have developed declab, a browser-based test harness for decision models and test cases. Business analysts can perform ad hoc tests, or build a tree of test cases.

Live demo of declab

This includes FEEL testing, and the business analyst can enter and test and variety of constructs to test out a field function without having to deploy an entire model — envision an analyst with their modeler on one screen and declab on another screen to allow them to do micro-testing as they design decision models.

Materna has released the tool as open source, and it’s based on Red Hat’s DROOLS engine performing the tests in the background. You can try it out online here. Lots of great suggestions and comments from the audience; hopefully some of them will contribute to the open source project.

Exploiting payroll knowledge with Viren. Tim Stuyckens, Teal Partners

Tinm Stuyckens presented on their Viren decision-based tool for modeling and executing knowledge, specifically for calculating expat tax in payroll software. Payroll tax in Belgium is particularly complex, and sometimes it’s difficult to know which statutes to apply to make the most beneficial calculation.

Payroll tax calculation. From Tim Stuyckens’ presentation.

In addition to straightforward tax calculations, the tool can work backwards from a desired point to the necessary conditions, such as how many days to work in order to earn a certain income, or the optimal day rate to minimize taxes and earn a certain income. Business analysts can enter and modify the knowledge rules and data, while the platform handles versioning, compilation and deployment.

They use declarative rules and structured data to represent knowledge in the system, and apply constraint solvers for optimization with non-linear constraints. They only discovered DMN earlier this year and have embraced it in their tool, providing a unified DRD and decision tables to allow business analysts to more easily step through the decision logic.

Decision Management as a Service. Dennis Aarts, The Business Analysts

The last presentation in this session was by Dennis Aarts on a use case of decision management shared services model at Informatie Vlaanderen, an entity of the Flemish government in Belgium. They provide digital services to other parts of the government, and they were looking at ways to improve the quality and consistency of their services. The solution is Automatisch Advies (Automated Advice) which includes authentic and authorized data sources, orchestration using Camunda BPM, and business rules using IBM ODM. It has an extensible architecture to allow other capabilities to be integrated in the future, such as AI/ML.

There were several goals for the project, including productivity (reducing cycle time, reuse of data), regulatory (GDPR requirements) and ease of use (business can make modifications). The solution provides a centralized platform where rules can be developed and used by multiple entities.

Automatisch Advies decision as a service platform. From Dennis Aarts’ presentation.

Having decisions as a shared service amongst many government entities has many benefits in terms of reuse across entities, and not requiring expertise or maintenance skills for the platform in each entity. Like any shared services IT, however, there are complexities in allocating costs, governance of the decision models, security of models specific to a subset of entities, and maintenance of the rule sets.

This was my last session of DecisionCAMP 2019 — I’m skipping the final vendor statements and the closing remarks to head off and have a few days of vacation before I have to return to real life sometime next week. It’s been a great experience, and thanks to Jacob Feldman for inviting me. It’s been several years since I’ve been in Bolzano, and it’s just as beautiful as I remember.

Beautiful Bolzano!

This has been a bit of an epic trip, having left home almost three weeks ago to attend the academic BPM conference in Vienna, give a keynote at CamundaCon in Berlin, then here for DecisionCAMP. You can find my coverage for each of those events at the links.