Take Mike Marin’s CMMN survey: learn something and help CMMN research

CMMN diagram from OMG CMMN 1.0 specification document
CMMN diagram from OMG CMMN 1.0 specification document

Mike Marin, who had a hand in creating FileNet’s ECM platform and continued the work at IBM as chief architect on their Case Manager product, is taking a bit of time away from IBM to complete his PhD. He’s doing research into complexity metrics for the Case Management Model and Notation standard, and he really needs people to complete a survey in order to complete his empirical research. The entire thing will take 45-60 minutes, and can be completed in multiple sessions; 30-40 minutes of that is an optional tutorial, which you can skip if you’re already familiar with CMMN.

Here’s his invitation to participate (feel free to share with your process and case modeling friends):

We are conducting research on the Case Management Modeling and Notation (CMMN) specification and need your help. You don’t need to be familiar with CMMN to participate, but you should have some basic understanding of process technology or graphical modeling (for example: software modeling, data modeling, object modeling, process modeling, etc.), as CMMN is a new modeling notation. Participation is voluntary and no identifiable personal information will be collected.

You will learn more about CMMN with the tutorial; and you will gain some experience and appreciation for CMMN by evaluating two models in the survey. This exercise should take about 45 to 60 minutes to complete; but it can be done in multiple sessions. The tutorial is optional and it should take 30 to 40 minutes. The survey should take 15 to 20 minutes. You can consider the survey a quiz on the tutorial.

As an appreciation for your collaboration, we will donate $6 (six dollars) to a charity of your choice and we will provide you with early results of the survey.

You can use the following URL to take the tutorial and survey. The first page provides more information on the project.

http://cmmn.limequery.org/index.php/338792?lang=en

He wrote a more detailed description of the research over on BPTrends.

Mike’s a former colleague and a friend, but I’m not asking just because of that: he’s also a Distinguished Engineer at IBM and a contributor to standards and technology that make a huge impact in our field. Help him out, take the survey, and it will help us all out in the long run.

Now available: Best Practices for Knowledge Workers

510DL8BZNlLI couldn’t make it to the BPM and Case Management Summit in DC this week, but it includes the launch of the new book, Best Practices for Knowledge Workers: Innovation in Adaptive Case Management, for which I wrote the foreword. 

In that section, which I called “Beyond Checklists”, I looked at the ways that we are making ACM smarter, using rules, analytics, machine learning and other technologies. That doesn’t mean that ACM will become less reliant on the knowledge workers that work cases; rather, these technologies support them through recommendations and selective automation.

I also cover the ongoing challenges of collaboration within ACM, particularly the issue of encouraging collaboration through social metrics that align the actions of individuals with corporate goals.

You’ll find chapters by many luminaries in the field of BPM and ACM, including some real-world case studies of ACM in action.

Pega 7 roadmap at Pegaworld 2016

I finished up Pegaworld 2016 at a panel of Pega technology executives who provided the vision and roadmap for CRM and Pega 7. Don Schuerman moderated the panel, which included Bill Baggott, Kerim Akgonul, Maarten Keijzer, Mark Replogle and Steve Bixby.

Topics covered:

  • OpenSpan RPA and RDA is the most recent technology acquisition; by next year, the workforce intelligence will be a key differentiator for Pega to help their customers analyze user behavior and detect patterns for potential improvement and automation
  • Questions about Javascript “flavor of the month” technologies come up a lot in competitive situations; they are keeping an eye on what’s sticking in the marketplace and what they can learn from it, selectively including technologies and capabilities where it can add value and fits into their framework
  • Digital channels are now outpacing call center channels in the market, and they are enabling chat and other social capabilities for customer interaction but need to consider how to integrate the text-based social channels into a seamless experience
  • Developing with Pega 7 models isolates the applications from the underlying cloud and/or containerization platforms, so that new platforms and configurations can be put in place without changing the apps
  • New data visualizations based on improved analytics are evolving, providing opportunities for discovery of business practices
  • A simpler modeling environment allows non-technical designers to create and configure apps without accessing the Designer Studio; at this point, technical developers are likely needed for some capabilities
  • They are looking at newer data management technologies, e.g., NoSQL and blockchain, to see how they might fit into Pega’s technology stack; no commitments, but interesting to hear the discussion of the use of blockchain for avoiding conflicts and deadlocks in active-active-active scenarios without having to build it into applications explicitly
  • Some new technology components, developed by Pega or third parties, may be available via Pega Exchange as add-on apps rather than built into the product stack directly
  • They hope to be able to offer more product trials in the future, which can be downloaded (or accessed directly in the cloud) for people to check out the capabilities
  • DevOps is seen as more of a cultural than technology shift, where releases are sped up since code isn’t just thrown over the wall from development to deployment, but remain the responsibility of the dev team; a container strategy is an important component of having this run smoothly
  • UX design is critical in creating an appropriate customer experience, but also in supporting developers who are developing apps; Pega Express is regularly fine-tuned to provide an optimal modeling/design experience, and Pega Design provides insight into their design thinking initiatives
  • All of the data sources, including IoT events, contribute to analytics and machine learning, and therefore to the constant improvement of Next Best Action recommendations
  • They would like to be able to offer more predictive and intelligent customer service capabilities; lots of “wish list” ideas from the entire panel

This is the last session on day 2; tomorrow is all training courses and I’ll be heading home. It’s been a pretty full couple of days and always good to see what Pega’s up to.

American Express digital transformation at Pegaworld 2016

Howard Johnson and Keith Weber from American Express talked about their digital transformation to accommodate their expanding market of corporate card services for global accounts, middle market and small businesses. Digital servicing using their @work portal was designed with customer engagement in mind, and developed using Agile methodologies for improved flexibility and time to market. They developed a set of guiding principles: it needed to be easy to use, scalable to be able to manage any size of servicing customer, and proactive in providing assistance on managing cash flow and other non-transactional interactions. They also wanted consistency across channels, rather than their previous hodge-podge of processes and teams depending on which channels.

wp-1465337619564.jpg

AmEx used to be a waterfall development shop — which enabled them to offshore a lot of the development work but meant 10-16 months delivery time — but have moved to small, agile teams with continuous delivery. Interesting when I think back to this morning’s keynote, where Gerald Chertavian of Year Up said that they were contacted by AmEx about providing trained Java/Pega developers to help them with re-onshoring their development teams; the AmEx presenter said that he had four of the Year Up people on his team and they were great. This is a pretty negative commentary on the effectiveness of outsourced, offshore development teams for agile and continuous delivery, which is considered essential for today’s market. AmEx is now hiring technical people for onshore development that is co-located with their business process experts, greatly reducing delivery times and improving quality.

wp-1465337686253.jpg

Technology-wise, they have moved to an omni-channel platform that uses Pega case management, standardizing 65% of their processes while providing a single source of the truth. This has resulted in faster development (lower cost per market and integration time, with improved configurability) while enabling future capabilities including availability, analytics and a process API. On the business side, they’re looking at a lot of interesting capabilities for the future: big data-enabled insights, natural language search, pluggable widgets to extend the portal, and frequent releases to keep rolling this out to customers.

It sounds like they’re starting to use best practices from a technology design and development standpoint, and that’s really starting to pay off in customer experience. It will be interesting to see if other large organizations — with large, slow-moving offshore development shops — can learn the same lessons.

Case management at TIBCONOW 2016

Breakout sessions continue with Jeremy Smith and Nicolas Marzin of TIBCO presenting their case management functionality. Marzin went through the history of process and how we have moved from pre-defined processes and automation to more flexible and personalized work methods; in general, this is driving the application of case management and other unstructured work tools in addition to structured BPM. It’s no longer just about cost-cutting and efficiency, but also about innovation, agility and competitive differentiation. Although he made a link between case management and digital disruption, there are also many use cases for more flexible work handling, such as claims management and incident handling.

Smith talked about the case-centric capabilities enabled by ActiveMatrix BPM, presenting it as an approach to building applications rather than a separate product offering. He made the distinction between back office processes, where the organization determines the employees’ journey (I don’t fully agree, since there is a lot of back office knowledge work), while the path of front office processes are driven by the customer. TIBCO takes a data-centric approach to case management, where any entity can be a case, and a case can contain processes (or process fragments), rules, actions, analytics, and collaboration. Unlike the usual big process application built with AMX BPM, case management can start much simpler with the objects, data and basic actions, then add in more of the capabilities as the needs emerge.

wp-1463604177424.jpgHe showed a transportation-related case dashboard used by a knowledge worker, with a milestone/stage timeline, business actions (which may trigger processes), case details, and contextual details (linked cases, processes, tasks and navigation). States and actions drive the cases forward rather than pre-defined processes, so that actions can be triggered when certain states are reached or data values updated. Workers can select actions based on the case state and their permission level.

This seems to be more of an application framework/example than a case management platform, although the claim is that semi-technical analysts can create these applications. There’s another session later today on the low-code application development environment used to create case management applications; there are certainly a lot of questions left unanswered by this session about how case really fits in with AMX BPM.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: W4 and BP3

Second round of demos for the day, with more case management. This time with pictures!

BPM and Enterprise Social Networks for Flexible Case Management – Francois Bonnet, W4 (now ITESOFT Group)

wp-1461177318999.jpgAdding ESN to case management (via Jamespot plugin) to improve collaboration and flexibility, enhancing a timeline of BPM events with the comments and other collaboration events that occur as the process executes. Initiates social routing as asynchronous event call. Example shows collaborative ownership assignment on an RFP, where an owner must self-select within the ESN before a process deadline is reached, or the assignment is made automatically. Case ID shared between W4 BPM and Jamespot ESN, so that case assignments, comments and other activities are sent back to BPM for logging in the process engine to create a consolidated timeline. Can create links between content artifacts, such as between RFP and proposal. Nice use of BPMN events to link to ESN, and a good example of how to use an external (but integrated) ESN for collaborative steps within a standard BPMN process, while capturing events that occur in the ESN as part of the process audit trail.

A Business Process Application with No Process – Scott Francis, BP3 Global

IMG_9207Outpatient care example with coordination of resources (rooms, labs) and people (doctors, patients), BPMN may not be best way to model and coordinate resources since can end up as a single-task anti-pattern. Target UI on tablet, using their Brazos tools with responsive UI, but can be used on desktop or phone. Patient list allows provider to manage high-level state of waiting versus in progress by assigning room, then add substatessuch as “Chaperone Required”, immediate updates regardless of platform used. Patient and doctor notifications can be initiated from action menu. A beautiful UI implementation of a fairly simple state management application built on IBM BPM, although the infrastructure is there to tie in events and data from other systems.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: Salesforce, BP Logix and RedHat

Day 2 of bpmNEXT is all demos! Four sessions with a total of 12 demos coming up, with most of the morning focused on case management.

Cloud Architecture Accelerating Innovation in Application Development – Linus Chow, Salesforce

App dev environment that allows integration of Salesforce data with other sources, such as SAP. Schema builder allows data models to be visualized and linked in an ERD format, with field-level security and audit capabilities. Process Builder is an environment for visual creation of Salesforce-related data-driven processes, typically simple update actions triggered by data updates. User experiences created using Lightning App Builder, including support for mobile devices. Work-Relay as a more traditional process orchestration environment leveraging the Salesforce environment. Although mostly live demo, the entire Work-Relay section was a pre-recorded screencast, which was a disappointing violation of the bpmNEXT format.

One Model, Three Dimensions: Combining Flow, Case and Time Into a Unified Development Paradigm – Scott Menter and Joby O’Brien, BP Logix

Process Timeline as a GANTT chart view of process, where highly-parallel tasks must have conditions of precedence, eligibility and necessity met in order to execute, as the underlying structure for case management. An application can include a goal (objective, KPI) that can drive actions and impose conditions while being evaluated independent of any process. Define process as a timeline where activities have “start when” (precedence), “completed when”, “needed when” conditions plus due date, forms and participants. Drag and drop activities on each other to establish precedence dependencies, and group into parent/child relationships to organize sections of process. Can use predictions of completion dates for activities, based on historical data, as triggers for actions. Data virtualization for external data sources, allowing more technical designer to publish the results of queries/views on external sources for other designers to use in applications. Integrated form builder with validation rules based on the shared data and rules previously defined. External events of various types can trigger actions in an event-condition-action paradigm.

Building Advanced Case-Driven Applications – Kris Verlaenen, RedHat

Extension of jBPM from structured process to dynamic case management, seen as a spectrum rather than distinct functionality. Building blocks to add ad hoc choices, milestones, case participants and other case constructs on the core process capabilities. Workbench for authoring case definitions, including creating BPMN process models with ad hoc tasks and structured process snippets, decision tables that can include automatic task triggering. Roles are defined to limit access to data, tasks and functionality. UI for admins, but demonstrated UI built for end users using their UI building blocks that allows selection of the ad hoc tasks in the context of the case data; this extracts the structure data from the case definition that will self-adjust if new data or tasks are added. UI functionality limited, and likely useful more as a prototype than full production UI. As with other open source tools, more targeted at developers than low-code environment. Interesting use of BPMN ad hoc tasks for case tasks rather than CMMN, supporting their basic premise that it’s a spectrum of capabilities rather than two distinct work modes.

Positioning Business Modeling panel at bpmNEXT

We had a panel of Clay Richardson of Forrester, Kramer Reeves of Sapiens and Denis Gagne of Trisotech, moderated by Bruce Silver, discussing the current state of business modeling in the face of digital transformation, where we need to consider modeling processes, cases, content, decisions, data and events in an integrated fashion rather than as separate activities. The emergence of the CMMN and DMN standards, joining BPMN, is driving the emergence of modeling platforms that not only include all three of these, but provide seamless integration between them in the modeling environment: a decision task in a BPMN or CMMN model links directly to the DMN model that represents that decision; a predefined process snippet in a CMMN model links directly to the BPMN model, and an ad hoc task in a BPMN model links directly to the CMMN model. The resulting models may be translated to (or even created in) a low-code executable environment, or may be purely for the purposes of understanding and optimizing the business.

Some of the points covered on the panel:

  • The people creating these models are often in a business architecture role if they are being created top down, although bottom-up modeling is often done by business analysts embedded within business areas. There is a large increase in interest in modeling within architecture groups.
  • One of the challenges is how to justify the time required to create these models. A potential positioning is that business models are essential to capturing knowledge and understanding the business even if they are not directly executable, and as organizations’ use of modeling matures and gains visibility with executives, it will be easier to justify without having to show an immediate tangible ROI. Executable models are easier to justify since they are an integrated part of an application development lifecycle.
  • Models may be non-executable because they model across multiple implementation systems, or are used to model activities in systems that do not have modeling capabilities, such as many ERP, CRM and other core operational systems, or are at higher levels of abstraction. These models have strategic value in understanding complexity and interrelationships.
  • Models may be initiated using a model derived from process/data mining to reduce the time required to get started.
  • Modeling vendors aren’t competing against each other, they’re competing against old methods of text-based business requirements.
  • Many models are persistent, not created just for a specific point in time and discarded after use.

A panel including two vendors and an analyst made for some lively conversation, and not a small amount of finger-pointing. 🙂

Day 2 Keynote at BPMCM15

Second day at the BPM and Case Management summit in DC, and our morning keynote started with Jim Sinur — former Gartner BPM analyst — discussing opportunities in BPM and case management. He pointed out the proven benefits of process and case management, in terms of improving revenue, costs, time to market, innovation and visibility, while paving a path to digital transformation. However, these tried-and-true ROI measures aren’t just enough these days: we also need to consider customer loyalty, IoT, disruptive companies and business models, and in general, maintaining competitive differentiation in whatever way necessary to thrive in the emerging marketplace. In order to accommodate this, as well as attract good workers, it’s necessary to break the specialist mindset and allow people to become knowledge workers. I gave a workshop last week at the IRM BPM conference on the future of work, and I agree that this is a key part of it: more of the routine work is being automated, leaving the knowledge work for the people in the process; this requires a work environment that allows people to do the right thing at the right time to achieve a goal, not just work at a pre-defined task in a pre-defined way. Sinur cited a number of examples of processes that are leveraging emerging technologies, including knowledge workers’ workbenches that incorporate smart automated agents and predictive analytics; and IoT applications in healthcare and farming. The idea is to create goal-driven and proactive “smarming” processes that figure out on their own how to accomplish a goal through both human and automated intelligence, then assemble the resources to do it. Instead of pre-defining processes, you provide goals, constraints, analytics and contexts; the agents — including people, services, bots and sensors — create each process instance on the fly to best meet the situation. Although his case studies included a number of other technologies, he finished with a comment on how BPM and case management can be used to coordinate and orchestrate these processes as we move to a new world of digital transformation of the customer experience.

Next up was Tom Debevoise, now with Signavio to help promote their recently-released DMN modeler; we had a sneak peek of the DMN modeler at bpmNEXT. He talked about three levels of decisions — strategic (e.g., should we change our business model), tactical (e.g. which customers to target) and operational (e.g., which discount to apply to this transaction) — and how these tend to be embedded within process models and business application logic, rather than externalized into decision models where they can be explicitly managed. Most organizations manage their decisions very poorly, both human and automated, resulting in inconsistent or just plain wrong decisions being made. In other words, our business decisions are at the same point now as business processes were a decade or more ago, before BPM systems became widespread, and the path to improving this is to consider decision management as a discipline as well as the systems to model and automate decisions. We now have a decision modeling standard, DMN 1.0; this is expected to drive the adoption of decision modeling in organizations in the same way that BPMN did for process modeling. He proposed a decision management lifecycle similar to a BPM lifecycle, starting with decision discovery that allows modeling using the DMN-standard elements of a decision, input data, knowledge sources, information requirements, authority requirements and knowledge requirements. He wrapped up with the linkage between process and decision models, particularly using the Signavio BPMN and DMN modelers: how decisions that are defined external to a process can be used to assign process activity participants, decide on next steps, select the process pathway, define data access control, or detect and respond to events. We saw yesterday how Trisotech’s tools combine BPMN, CMMN and DMN, and today how Signavio combines BPMN and DMN; as more process modeling vendors expand to include decision modeling, we are going to see more implementations of these modeling standards integrated.

The last speaker in the keynote was Lloyd Dugan, on how business architecture and BPM work together, in response to a paper that he wrote last year with Neal McWhorter. Although dense (I recommend checking out the paper at the link), his presentation discussed some of the issues with reconciling business architecture and BPM, such as reconciling value stream, balanced scorecard and other BA models with activities within a process model. He reviewed a number of definitions and model types, cutting a wide swath through pretty much everything even remotely related to process and architecture, and highlighting some of the failures of mapping enterprise architecture frameworks to BPMN. He finished with a spectrum from business model perspectives (what the business is doing) to the operational model perspective (how the business is doing it), and how the business architecture versus BPM viewpoints differ, but can still both use BPMN as a modeling language. Pretty sure of two things from this: 1) I missed a lot of the detail 2) Dugan has never heard that you’re supposed to have less than 500 words on each PowerPoint slide.

BPMN, CMMN and DMN with @denisgagne at BPMCM15

Last session of day 1 of the BPM and Case Management Summit 2015 in DC, and Denis Gagne of Trisotech is up to talk about the three big standards: the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN), the Case Management Model & Notation, and the Decision Model & Notation. BPMN has been around for a few years and is well-established — pretty much every business process modeling and automation vendor uses BPMN in some form in their process modelers, and it is OMG’s most-adopted standard — but CMMN and DMN are much newer and less widespread in the market. There are a few vendors offering CMMN modelers and even fewer offering DMN. There are two major benefits to standards such as BPMN, CMMN and DMN, in addition to the obvious benefit of providing an unambiguous format for modeling processes, management and decisions: they can be used to create models that can be interchanged between different vendors’ products; and they provide a common and readily-transferable “language” that is learned by analysts. This interchangeability, both of models and skills, means that organizations don’t need to be quite so worried about which modeling tool that they use, or the people that they hire to use it. Denis was at the Model Interchange Working Group (MIWG) OMG meeting in Berlin last week, where they showed all types of interchange for BPMN; with luck, we’ll be seeing the same activities for the other standards as they become widely adopted.

There are some grey areas about when to use BPMN versus CMMN, since both are (sort of) process-based. However, the main focus in BPMN is on activities within processes, whereas CMMN focuses on events that impact cases. He showed a chart comparing different facets of the three standards:

BPMN CMMN DMN
Processes Cases Decisions
Activities Events Rules
Transitional Contextual Applied
Data Information Knowledge
Procedural Declarative Functional
Token Event Condition Action (ECA) First Order Logic (FOL)

The interesting part (at least to me) comes when we look at the bridges between these standards: in BPMN, there is a business rule task that can call a decision in DMN; in CMMN, there is a process task that can call a process defined in BPMN. Trisotech’s version of all of these modelers (not yet in the standards, but count on Denis to get them in there) also provides for a case task type in BPMN that can call a CMMN case, and a decision task in CMMN that can call a DMN decision. There are some patterns to watch for when modeling that might indicate that you should be using another model type:

  • In BPMN, if you have a lot of gateways expressing business logic, then consider moving the gateway logic to DMN
  • In BPMN, if you have a lot of events especially boundary events, then consider encapsulating that portion into a CMMN case
  • In BPMN, if you have a lot of ad hoc subprocesses, then consider using CMMN to allow for greater specification of the ad hoc activities
  • In CMMN, if you have a lot of task interdependencies, consider using BPMN to replace the temporal dependencies with flow diagrams

The recognition and refactoring of these patterns is pretty critical for using the right model type, and are likely a place where a more trained technical analytical eye might be able to suggest improvements to models created by a less-technical analyst who isn’t familiar with all of the model types or how to think about this sort of decomposition and linking.

He demonstrated integration between the three model types using the Trisotech BPMN, CMMN and DMN modelers, where a decision task in the BPMN modeler can link directly to a decision within a model in the DMN modeler, and a case task in BPMN can link directly to a case model in the CMMN modeler. Nice integration, although it remains to be seen what analyst skill level is required to be able to model across all three types, or how to coordinate different analysts who might be modeling in only one of the three model types each, where the different models are loosely coupled with different authors.

Disclosure: I’m doing some internal work with Trisotech, which means that I have quite a bit of knowledge about their products, although I have not been compensated in any way for writing about them here on my blog.