Social BPM For Improving Enterprise Performance With @MarcoBrambi

Emanuele Molteni and Marco Brambilla of WebRatio presented on integrating social tools with BPM for improving enterprise performance in their breakout session this afternoon. They started with a description of how social and BPM come together, which covered some of the same ground as I did in my longer-form workshop yesterday, and also included some pointers on where social impacts the BPM cycle and social BPM design patterns.

More interestingly, they went into quite a bit of detail on social extensions to BPMN, in four categories:

  • Social monitoring
  • Social behavior
  • Social content
  • Social access

Social BPMNI gave a brief nod to the need for this sort of extension in process modeling in my session yesterday, but didn’t discuss them in detail; Brambilla went into modeling of social roles, publication scope and other social tasks such as voting and ranking. He also discussed a method for social BPM based on model-driven design, as well as techniques for social enterprise such as crowdsourcing and gamification.

You can check out a video that they posted last year showing an implementation of integrating LinkedIn, Doodle and BPM, which allows an existing social networking platform to be used for external collaboration and voting, with the results collated back into the internal process management system.

He finished with some of the challenges; unsurprisingly, the biggest issues in social BPM are organizational and cultural, not technological.

BPM Framework For Product Development At Ericsson

Michael Andersson of Ericsson presented a breakout session on their BPM framework for product development in a global environment. Although many people are familiar with them as a handset manufacturer, Ericsson’s biggest business is to create and service communication networks that provide the infrastructure for telecom operators (their customers), and provide solutions to the telecom operators to pass on to the end consumers. With 100,000 employees and several product development locations around the world, they are actually the 5th-largest software development company in the world (by sales) as well as providing hardware solutions.

Their classical way of working, which is the same in many large-scale project-driven development efforts, was very waterfall-like: long release cycles based on static requirements, requiring extensive testing and very inflexible to change requests. They are moving to a more agile approach with frequent small deliverables, which is easier to test and deploy, and allows for more customer interaction during development.

EricssonThe interesting part is that they’re using BPM for their product development cycle, which is not an application that I see very often: they have created a BPM framework within their product development ecosystem, which acts as a toolbox for managing and collaborating on requirements and the product development lifecycle. The ecosystem provides different perspectives to allow the different types of stakeholders to see a view of product development that is meaningful to them.

He walked through each of the perspectives (what I would consider tools or capabilities, not perspectives in the EA sense) and explained the use and audience for each; they all center around the product development framework portal. This framework provides guidance for different product development practices, and contains all knowledge for how they operate when developing products: product development principles; directives and guidelines (rules and policies); process flows (value chains); process components (procedural processes); performance measurements; and enabling resources in terms of information, IT and organization. Although most of this is provided top-down on an organizational basis, the process components (processes) are provided by the operational units doing product development in a more socially collaborative way.

A big benefit of the framework is to provide context for the engineers working in product development who might previously have only considered their own processes, and not how those relate to value chains, which in turn is a representation of the customer requirements. It also provides the platform for collaboration and sharing with other engineers in other geographic locations and business areas, or provides an interface to collaboration tools that are already in use.

This was really about BPM as a methodology, not a tool or system to be implemented; as Andersson said in his summary, you probably want to do BPM, but you may not want to call it BPM.

Best Practices For Modeling Processes And Rules With @Ronald_G_Ross

Ron Ross presented in the first breakout session of the BPM track, discussing best practices for creating better (and fewer) process models by modeling business rules together with processes. I’ve talked on this subjet quite a bit, although I come at it from the process modeling side whereas Ron is from the rules side. His business partner, Gladys Lam, was also in the audience; their book Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules and Ron’s earlier book Business Rule Concepts covers these concepts in much more detail.

I used to joke that process modelers tend to create process models wherein the business rules are just huge networks of flow logic directly in the process, whereas rules modelers create process models with a single task that just calls a rules engine. Ron isn’t going quite that far, but definitely advocates reducing the modeling of rules directly in a process notation (as BPMN gateways, for example) to create more concise and smarter process models. Rules should be expressed in business language; rules models are fundamentally different than process models, although the decisions made in the rules models can then be used within the process model. In his example, an insurance claim process included a conditional flow path when the claim is valid, but doesn’t explicitly show what rules are applied to determine if a claim is valid – that’s a job for the rules model.

He discussed some different patterns for harvesting rules from processes – conditional flows, maximum inter-task timing, and minimum inter-task timing – and introduced their RuleSpeak guidelines for expressing the resultant business rules in concise business language. He made a distinction between behavioral rules and decision rules; the former relies on a governor to watch for the rules being met or violated (often implemented in processes as an interrupting event of some sort), while the latter is about applying a decision at a point in a process. In short, rules are the embodiment of your business policies that ensure that you get consistently achieve the right results; in the rules world, processes are just a way of connecting the rules.

The key is to externalize the rules from the processes, and (primarily) model the high-volume standardized transactions. Low-volume, specialized processes don’t need to be modeled prior to execution, but can be informed and guided by rules: this is the basis of adaptive case management. This moves the need for agility into business rules – which are typically easier to change on the fly – and both simplify and stabilize business models.

Innovating Organizations With @ismiro

Michael Rosemann from Queensland University of Technology gave a joint keynote at IRM BPM/EA. He proposes that current BPM and EA approaches provide only limited support to corporate innovation: as he put it, we just put 100 people in a brainstorming session and hope that one of them has a good idea. Instead, we have to consider having ambitions and plans to achieve innovation, and support a conscious innovation competence and innovation process with the methodologies of BPM and EA. In other words, we need to be aware of how we innovate successfully.

He started with the concept of what drives innovation: first of all, a current problem, and a vision of a goal. This reactive approach is what he calls core innovation, but often represents only incremental innovation; this is often what we see in process improvement techniques such as Lean. His recommendations for problem-driven innovation: capture goals in your enterprise architecture; identify capability gaps; consider processes and problems; and involve all stakeholders in problem identification.

Next, he discussed constraint-driven innovation, with is much more transformational. He discussed some examples, such as the mobile-driven innovations that we’re seeing in several different markets: mobile payments via mobile phones in Kenya, and a virtual grocery store in South Korea that allows shoppers to scan displays in subway stations that look like the grocery shelves and have their shopping cart of products delivered to them at home. Instead of looking at classic process improvement techniques, which tend to be incremental, consider the constraints: in Kenya, there are few banks but many mobile phones; in South Korea, people have no time for shopping but need to pass through the subway station on their way to work. Unfortunately, standard process models don’t model key constraints and context very well, so we need to increase the context-awareness of EA and process models, and understand how contextual changes impact architecture and process in order to address this. When we live in countries that have many fewer constraints, it can be beneficial to do “reverse innovation” where we go offshore to look for constraints in order to drive innovation, then bring that innovation back to locations of fewer constraints, where the competition are likely much less innovative. An interesting way to improve competitive differentiation in a rich market.

Third is opportunity-driven innovation; his example is a crème brulee vendor in San Francisco who tweets his location daily; this idea has caught on like wildfire in Toronto, where I live, with local gourmet food trucks that relocate each day. This type of innovation captures the “affordances”, such as ability to geolocate and publish that information, and are often driven by emerging technology such as social media. Interesting how much mobile phones are part of this type of innovation these days: the other example that he mentioned was an airport using the movement of mobile phone Bluetooth signals to track queuing time in security lines.

Considering both the transactional and transformation innovation, we need to start considering innovation as a process; currently EA and BPM practices don’t support his very well, since we don’t necessarily understand that innovation is a process, or how to go about describing that process, and we don’t model constraints and context very well. If we do understand innovation as a process, it’s often just the transactional, incremental innovation that is problem-driven, not the more transformational constraint or opportunity-driven type.

He described four ways to innovate:

  • Enhance current practices, by eliminating steps (often wait steps, but sometimes by virtualizing a real-world experience and offering at a lower price), resequencing (e.g., move payment to end of a cycle and move to usage-based pricing), and specializing (e.g., offering higher-priced alternatives that eliminate waiting). Whenever pricing is involved, in fact, you can always start looking at usage-based and time-based pricing innovation patterns; Rosemann has a number of different patterns that can be applied to help drive innovation.
  • Derive better practices, through learning from others with similar processes, potentially in other industries. By considering who else has the same sort of problems; applying process improvements in mortgage applications to improve job application processes, for example, which applies filtering at the start of the process in order to reduce the number of instances that require more time-intensive consideration later in the process. He listed a number of derivation patterns to consider: pre-approval, triage, usage-based pricing, automation, and brokering.
  • Utilize potential practices, by considering the unused cycle time for any given resource, and finding a use for it; examples of this are people who offer their home driveway as a parking space for commuters while they’re off at work themselves. There are a lot of idle resources out there at any given time, whether people, vehicles, computing time or physical space; the key is to find the utilization differential in your enterprise architecture, and find ways to use those underused resources. Identifying and using those resources is a big part of becoming consciously competent. In some cases, that means becoming a broker between the underused resources and the potential consumers of that resource.
  • Create new practices, based on creative lateral thinking, not traditional pattern-based thinking. Consider that creativity is the unconventional generation of new ideas, whereas innovation is the process that carries those ideas through to new products and services.

He ended with a summary of the innovation dimensions and techniques; I believe he has a paper published on this, which I’d love to read. Lots of great ideas here for driving innovation at any level in any type of business.

IRM BPM And EA 2012 Kicks Off With @cybersal and @rogerburlton

I gave my Social BPM session yesterday on the pre-conference workshop day, but today is the official opening of the combined business process management and enterprise architecture conference in London. This is the second year that these two conferences are being held together, with attendees welcome to join either track plus some joint keynotes between them. Lots of great stuff on the agenda.

The day started with a joint keynote by Sally Bean, who runs the EA track, and Roger Burlton for the BPM side. They discussed the overlap between the two areas, and how EA and BPM are collaborative practices that enable business change: EA as more of the strategy and planning, with BPM taking over at the planning, execution then feedback of performance information to close the loop. They went through a diagram of activities across the spectrum, highlighting which were primarily EA or BPM, and which were done in both areas.

Just a quick keynote, ending up with the announcement that Sally Bean is stepping down from the conference chair position, after organizing the EA conference for several years. No word of who will be taking over this role for next year, but hers are big shoes to fill.

Social BPM At IRM BPM London

I’m in London this week at the IRM BPM conference. Today, I’ll be taking my Making Social BPM Mean Business 3-hour seminar for its first real outing (although I’ve presented most of this material in other contexts, just not in this combined form); over the next several months, I’ll be presenting this at three other conferences, but it’s always changing because there’s always something happening in this area.

Tomorrow, I’ll be moderating a panel on business architecture, where I’ll have the chance to discuss what it is, what the value is, who should be involved, and the skills required with John Gøtze, Neil Ward-Dutton, Mike Rosen and Martin Frick.

If you’re here, track me down and say hi.

SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse with HANA

Continuing in the SAP World Tour in Toronto today, I went to a breakout innovation session on NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW) and HANA, with Steve Holder from their BusinessObjects center of excellence. HANA, in case you’ve been hiding from all SAP press releases in the past two years, is an analytic appliance (High-performance ANalytic Applicance, in fact) that includes hardware and in-memory software for real-time analysis of non-aggregated information (i.e., not complex event processing). Previously, you would have had to move your BW data (which had probably already been ETL’d from your ERP to BW) over to HANA in order to take advantage of that processing power; now, you can actually make HANA be the persistence layer for BW instead of a relational database such as Oracle or DB2, so that the database behind BW becomes HANA. All the features of BW (such as cubes and analytic metadata) can be used just as they always could be, and any customizations such as custom extractors already done on BW by customers are supported, but moving to an in-memory provides a big uplift in speed.

Previously, BW provided data modeling, an analytical/planning engine, and data management, with the data storage in a relationship database. Now, BW only provides the data modeling, and everything else is pushed into HANA for in-memory performance. What sort of performance increases? Early customer pilots are seeing 10x faster data loading, 30x faster reporting (3x faster than BW Accelerator, another SAP in-memory analytics option), and a 20% reduction in administration and maintenance (no more RDBMS admins and servers). This is before the analytics have been optimized for in-memory: this is just a straight-up conversion of their existing data into HANA’s in-memory columnar storage. Once you turn on in-memory InfoCubes, you can eliminate physical cubes in favor of virtual cubes; there are a lot of other optimizations that can be done by eventually refactoring to take advantage of HANA’s capabilities, allowing for things such as interfacing to predictive analytics, and providing linear scaling of data, users and analysis.

This is not going to deprecate BW Accelerator, but provides options for moving forward that include a transition migration path from BWA to BW on HANA. BWA, however, provides performance increases for only a subset of BW data, so you can be sure that SAP will be encouraging people to move from BWA to BW on HANA.

A key message is that customers’ BW investments are completely preserved (although not time spent on BWA), since this is really just a back-end database conversion. Eventually, the entire Business Suite ERP system will run on top of HANA, so that there will be no ETL delay in moving operational data over to HANA for analysis; presumably, this will have the same sort of transparency to the front-end applications as does BW on HANA.

SAP World Tour Toronto: Morning Keynotes

There was a big crowd out for SAP’s only Canadian stop in its World Tour today: about 900 people in the keynote as Mark Aboud took the stage to discuss how SAP helps companies run their business, and look at the business trends in Canada right now: focus on the customer to create an experience; improve employee engagement by providing them with better tools and information to do their job better, increase speed in operations, managing information and distributing information. He moved on to talk about three technology trends, which echo what I heard at CASCON earlier this week: big data, cloud and mobility. No surprises there. He then spoke about what SAP is doing about these business and technology trends, which is really the reason that we’re all here today: cloud, analytics and mobility. Combined with their core ERP business, these “new SAP” products are where SAP is seeing market growth, and where they seem to be focusing their strategy.

He then invited CBC business correspondent Amanda Lang to the stage to talk further about productivity and innovation. It’s not just about getting better – it’s about getting better faster. This was very much a Canadian perspective, which means a bit of an inferiority complex comparing ourselves to the Americans, but also some good insights into the need to change corporate culture in order to foster an atmosphere of innovation, including leaving room for failure. Aboud is also providing some good insights into how SAP is transforming itself, in addition to what their customers are doing. SAP realized that they needed to bring game-changing technology to the market, and now see HANA as being as big for SAP as R/3 was back in the day. As Lang pointed out, service innovation is as important (or even more so) than product innovation in Canada, and SAP is supporting service businesses such as banking in addition to their more traditional position in product manufacturing companies.

Next up was Gary Hamel, recently named by the Wall Street Journal as the world’s most influential business thinker. Obviously, I’m just not up on my business thinkers, because I’ve never heard of him; certainly, he was a pro at business-related sound bytes.  He started off by asking what makes us inefficient, and talking about how we’re at an inflection point in terms of the rate of change required by business today. Not surprisingly, he sees management as the biggest impediment to efficiency and innovation, and listed three problematic characteristics that many companies have today:

  • Inertial (not very adaptable)
  • Incremental (not very innovative)
  • Insipid (not very inspiring)

He believes that companies need to foster with initiative, creativity and passion in their employees, not obedience, diligence and intellect. I’m not sure that a lot of companies would survive without intellect, but I agree with his push from feudal “Management 1.0” systems to more flexible organizations that empower employees. Management 1.0 is based on standardization, specialization, hierarchy, alignment, conformance, predictability and extrinsic rewards. Management 2.0 is about transparency (giving people the information that they need to do their job), disaggregation (breaking down the corporate power structures to give people responsibility and authority), natural hierarchies (recognizing people’s influence as measured by how much value they add), internal markets (providing resources inside companies based on market-driven principles rather than hierarchies, allowing ideas to come from anyone), communities of passion (allowing people to work on the things for which they have passion in order to foster innovation), self-determination (allowing freedom to move within corporate control structures based on value added), and openness (external crowdsourcing). Lots of great ideas here, although guaranteed to shake up most companies today.

The only bad note of the morning (aside from having to get up early, rent a Zipcar and drive through morning rush hour to an airport-area conference center far from downtown) was on the Women’s Leadership Forum breakfast. Moderated by a Deloitte partner, the panel included a VP of Marketing from Bell and Director of Legal for Medtronic. Where are the women in technology? Where are the women entrepreneurs? The woman from Bell, when asked about lessons that she could share, started with “work harder, every day – just that extra half hour or so”. That is so wrong. We need to be working smarter, not longer hours, and we need to take time away from work so that we’re not focused on it every day of our life if we expect to show true innovative leadership. About 20 minutes into the conversation, when the moderator turned the talk away from business and started asking about their children, horseback riding and the dreaded “work-life balance”, I left. What other business leadership forum that didn’t have the word “women” in the title would have included such topics? Quite frankly, this was an embarrassment.

Process Excellence at Elevations Credit Union

Following the opening keynote at Building Business Capability, I attended the session about Elevations Credit Union’s journey to process excellence. Rather than a formal presentation, this was done as a sit-down discussion with Carla Wolfe, senior business analyst at Elevations CU being interviewed by Mihnea Galateanu, Chief Storyteller for Blueworks Live at IBM. Elevations obviously has a pretty interesting culture, because they publicly state – on their Facebook page, no less – that achieving the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is their big hairy audacious goal (BHAG). To get there, they first had to get their process house in order.

They had a lot of confusion about what business processes even are, and how to discover the business processes that they had and wanted to improve. They used the AQPC framework as a starting point, and went out to all of their business areas to see who “Got Process?”. As they found out, about 80% didn’t have any idea of their business processes, and certainly didn’t have them documented or managed in any coherent manner. As they went through process discovery, they pushed towards “enterprise process maps”: namely, their end-to-end processes, or value streams.

Elevations is a relatively small company, only 260 employees; they went from having 60 people involved in process management (which is an amazingly high percentage to begin with) to a “much higher” number now. By publicly stating the Baldridge award – which is essentially about business process quality – as a BHAG, they couldn’t back away from this; this was a key motivator that kept people involved in the process improvement efforts. As they started to look at how processes needed to work, there was a lot of pain, particularly as they looked as some of the seriously broken processes (like when the marketing department created a promotion using a coupon to bring in new customers, but didn’t inform operations about the expected bump of new business, nor tell the front line tellers how to redeem the coupons). Even processes that are perceived as being dead simple – such as cashing a $100 bill at a branch – ended up involving many more steps and people that anyone had anticipated.

What I found particularly interesting about their experience was how they really made this about business processes (using value stream terminology, but processes nonetheless), so that everything that they looked at had to relate to a value stream. “Processes are the keys to the kingdom”, said Wolfe, when asked why they focused on process rather than, for example, customers. As she pointed out, if you get your processes in order, everything else falls into place. Awesome.

It was a major shift in thinking for people to see how they fit into these processes, and how they supported the overall value stream. Since most people (not just those at Elevations) just think about their own silo, and don’t think beyond their immediate process neighbors. Now, they think about process first, transforming the entire organization into process thinking mode. As they document their processes (using, in part, a Six Sigma SIPOC movel), they add a picture of the process owner to each of the processes or major subprocesses, which really drives home the concept of process ownerships. I should point out that most of the pictures that she showed of this was of paper flow diagrams pasted on walls; although they are a Blueworks Live customer, the focus here was really on their process discovery and management. She did, however, talk about the limitations of paper-based process maps (repository management, collaboration, ease of use), and how they used Blueworks Live once they had stabilized their enterprise process maps in order to allow better collaboration around the process details. By developing the SIPOCs of the end-to-end processes first on paper, they then recreated those in Blueworks Live to serve as a framework for collaboration, and anyone creating a new process had to link it to one of those existing value streams.

It’s important to realize that this was about documenting and managing manual processes, not implementing them in an automated fashion using a BPMS execution engine. Process improvement isn’t (necessarily) about technology, as they have proved, although the the process discovery uses a technology tool, and the processes include steps that interact with their core enterprise systems. Fundamentally, these are manual processes that include system interaction. Which means, of course, that there may be a whole new level of improvement that they could consider by adding some process automation to link together their systems and possibly automate some manual steps, plus automate some of the metrics and controls.

So where are they in achieving their BHAG? One year after launching their process improvement initiative, they won the Timberline level of the Colorado Performance Excellence (CPEx) Award, and continue to have their sights set on the Baldridge in the long term. Big, hairy and audacious, indeed.

Building Business Capability Keynote with @Ronald_G_Ross, @KathleenBarret and @RogerBurlton

After a short (and entertaining) introduction by Gladys Lam, we heard the opening keynote with conference chairs Ron Ross, Kathleen Barret and Roger Burlton. These three come from the three primary areas covered by this conference – business rules, business analysis and business process – and we heard about what attendees can expect to learn about and take away from the conference:

  • The challenge of business agility, which can be improved through the use of explicit and external business rules, instead of hard-coding rules into applications and documents. Making rules explicit also allows the knowledge within those rules to be more explicitly viewed and managed.
  • The need to think differently and use new solutions to solve today’s problems, and development of a new vocabulary to describe these problems and solutions.
  • You need to rewire the house while the lights are on, that is, you can’t stop your business while you take the time to improve it, but need to ensure that current operations are maintained in the interim.
  • Business rules need to be managed in a business sense, including traceability, in order to become a key business capability. They also need to be defined declaratively, independent from the business processes in which they might be involved.
  • Process and rules are the two key tools that should be in every business analyst’s toolkit: it’s not enough just to analyze the business, but you must be looking at how the identification and management of process and rules can improve the business.

The key message from all three of the chairs is that the cross-pollination between process, rules, analysis and architecture is essential in order to identify, manage and take advantage of the capabilities of your business. There is a lot of synergy between all of these areas, so don’t just stick with your area of expertise, but check out sessions in other tracks as well. We were encouraged to step up to a more business-oriented view of solving business problems, rather than just thinking about software and systems.

I’m adding the sessions that I attend to the Lanyrd site that I created for the conference, and linking my blog posts, presentations, etc. in the “coverage” area for each session. If you’re attending or presenting at a session, add it on Lanyrd so that others can socialize around it.

I’m moderating two panels during the remainder of the conference: today at 4:30pm is a BPM vendor panel on challenges in BPM adoption, then tomorrow at 4:30pm is a panel on business architecture versus IT architecture.