Wanted: UK/European Customer Case Studies For IRM BPM London, June 2013

Each year for the past few years, I’ve been a speaker at the IRM BPM conference in London; this year, it’s June 11-13 at the Radisson Blu Portman Square, and is co-located with the Enterprise Architecture conference. There’s always a good lineup of speakers, including half-day workshops, keynotes and breakout sessions on a variety of tracks.

This year, they’re looking for a few more UK and European customer case study presentations at the conference. If you have an interesting BPM initiative going on in your organization that you’d like to present, or if you’re a vendor and have a customer who might fit the bill, contact conference co-chair Roger Burlton, rburlton (at) bptrendsassociates.com. The call for speakers ended in December, but I know that they have some spots available for customer case studies.

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.

Strategic Synergies Between BPM, EA and SOA

I just had to attend Claus Jensen’s presentation on actionable architecture with synergies between BPM, EA and SOA since I read two of his white papers in preparing the workshop that I delivered here on Wednesday on BPM in an EA context. I also found out that he’s co-authored a new red book on EA and BPM.

Lots of great ideas here – I recommend that you read at least the first of the two white papers that I link to above, which is the short intro – about how planning (architecture) and solution delivery (BPM) are fundamentally different, and you can’t necessarily transform statements and goals from architecture into functions in BPM, but there is information that is passed in both directions between the two different lifecycles.

He went through descriptions of scenarios for aligning and interconnecting EA and BPM, also covered in the white papers, which are quite “build a (IBM-based) solution”-focused, but still some good nuggets of information.

Workshop: BPM In An EA Context

Here’s my presentation slides from the workshop that I gave on Wednesday here at the IRM BPM conference in London, entitled Architecting A Business Process Environment:

As always, some slides may not make much sense without my commentary (otherwise, why would I be there live?), but feel free to ask any questions here in the comments.

BPM Rapid Development Methodology

Today at the IRM BPM conference, I started with a session by Chris Ryan of Jardine Lloyd Thompson on a rapid development methodology with BPMS in their employee benefits products area.

They’ve been a HandySoft customer since 2004, using BizFlow both for internal applications, and for external-facing solutions that their customers use directly; they switched off a Pega project that was going on (and struggling) in one of their acquisitions and replaced it with BizFlow in about 4 months. However, they were starting to become a victim of their own success, with many parts of the organization wanting their process applications developed by the same small development team.

They weren’t doing their BPM solutions in a consistent and efficient fashion, and were using a waterfall methodology; they decided to move to an Agile development methodology, where the requirements, process definition and application/form design are all done pretty much simultaneously with full testing happening near the end but still overlapping with ongoing development. They’ve also starting thinking about their processes in a more service-oriented way that allows them to design (sub)processes for specific discrete functions, so that different people can be working on the subprocesses that will make up part of a higher-level process. This has tracking implications as well: users viewing a process in flight can look at the top level process, or drill down into the individual functions/subprocesses as required.

They’ve established best practices and templates for their user interface design, greatly reducing the time required and improving consistency. They’ve built in a number of usability measures, such as reducing navigation and presenting only the information required at a specific step. I think that this type of standardization is something rarely done in the user interface end of BPMS development, and I can see how it would accelerate their development efforts. It’s also interesting that they moved away from cowboy-style development into a more disciplined approach, even while implementing Agile: the two are definitely not mutually exclusive.

This new methodology and best practices – resulting in a lean BPM team of analysts, PMs, developers, testers and report writers – have  allowed them to complete five large projects incorporating 127 different processes in the past year. Their business analysts actually design the processes, involving the developers only for the technical bindings; this means that the BAs do about 50% of the “development”, which is what all of the BPMS vendors will tell you should be happening, but rarely actually happens in practice.

From an ROI standpoint, they’ve provided the infrastructure that has allowed the company to grow its net profit by 46%, in part through headcount reduction of as much as 50% in some areas, and also in the elimination of redundant systems (e.g., Pega).

They’ve built a business process competency center, and he listed the specific competencies that they’ve been developing in their project managers, analysts, developers and “talent development” (training, best practices and standards). Interestingly, he pointed out that their developers don’t need to have really serious technical skills because the BizFlow developer really doesn’t get that technical.

He finished up with their key success factors: business involvement and user engagement, constant clear communications amongst stakeholders, and good vendor support. They found that remote teams can work well, as long as the communication methods support the user engagement throughout the process, since Agile requires constant review by users and retuning of the application under development throughout the lifecycle, not just during a final testing stage.

Great success story, both for JLT and for HandySoft.

Building a Business Architecture Capability and Practice Within Shell

For the first breakout of the day, I attended Dan Jeavon’s session on Shell’s business architecture practice. For such a massive company – 93,000 employees in 90 countries – this was a big undertaking, and they’ve been at this for five years.

He defines business architecture as the business strategy, governance, organization and key business process information, as well as the interaction between these concepts, which is taken directly from the TOGAF 9 definition. Basically, this involves design, must be implemented and not just conceptual, and requires flexibility based on business agility requirements. They started on their business architecture journey because of factors that affect many other companies: globalization, competition, regulatory requirements, realization of current inefficiencies, and emergence of a single governance board for the multi-national company.

Their early efforts were centered on a huge new ERP system, especially with the problems due to local variations from the global standard process models. “Process” (and ERP) became naughty words to many people, with connotations of bloated, not-quite-successful projects. Following on from some of the success points, their central business architecture initiative actually started with process modeling/design: standard processes across the different business areas with global best practices. This was used to create and roll out a standard set of financial processes, with a small core team doing the process redesign, and coordinating with IT to create a common metamodel and architectural standards. As they found out, many other parts of the company had similar process issues – HR, IT and others – so they branched out to start building a business architecture for other areas as well.

They had a number of challenges in creating a process design center of excellence:

  • Degree of experience with the tool and the methodology; initial projects weren’t sufficiently structured, reducing benefits.
  • Perceived value to the business, especially near-term versus long-term ROI.
  • Impact of new projects, and ensuring that they follow the methodology.
  • Governance and high-level sponsorship.

They also found a number of key steps to implementing their CoE and process architecture:

  • Sponsorship
  • Standard methodology, embedded within standard project delivery framework
  • Communication of success stories

Then, they migrated their process architecture initiative to a full business architecture by looking at the relationships to other elements of business architecture; this led to them do business architecture (mostly) as part of process design initiatives. Recent data quality/management initiatives have also brought a renewed focus on architecture, and Jeavons feels that although the past five years have been about process, the next several years will be more about data.

He showed a simplified version of their standard metamodel, including aspects of process hierarchy models, process flow models, strategy models and organization models. He also showed a high-level view of their enterprise process model in a value stream format, with core processes surrounded by governing and supporting processes. From there, he showed how they link the enterprise process model to their enterprise data catalogue, which links to the “city plan” of their IT architecture and portfolio investment cycle; this allows for traceability as well as transparency. They’ve also been linking processes to strategy – this is one of the key points of synergy between EA and BPM – so that business goals can be driven down into process performance measures.

The EA and process design CoE have been combined (interesting idea) into a single EA CoE, including process architects and business architects, among other architect positions; I’m not sure that you could include an entire BPM CoE within an EA CoE due to BPM’s operational implementation focus, but there are certainly a lot of overlapping activities and functions, and should have overlapping roles and resources.

He shared lots of great lessons learned, as well as some frank assessment of the problems that they ran into. I particularly found it interesting how they morphed a process design effort into an entire business architecture, based on their experience that the business really is driven by its processes.

Designing a Breakout Business Strategy

The keynote this morning was A Strategic Toolkit for Designing and Delivering A Breakout Strategy by Professor Thomas Lawton of EMYLON Business School. This was about business strategy, starting with a view of how different companies responded to the recent/ongoing recession: panic, protect, cloak or conquer, where the first three are reactive but with different results (negative, neutral, positive) and the last of which is proactive. He had examples of each; for example, how Sony used a “cloak” response to take business cutback measures that would have been difficult during good times, improving the business overall. He challenged the audience to consider which of the four responses that our organizations have adopted, and some strategies for dealing with the current economic conditions. Although it’s not easy to think about success when you’re fighting for survival, you need to be proactively preparing for the inevitable upturn so as to be able to seize the market when it starts improving. I definitely started thinking about BPM at this point; organizations that implement BPM during a down market in order to control costs often find themselves well-positioned to improve their market share during the upswing because they are more efficient and more agile to respond to customer needs.

He introduced a few different tools that form a strategy system:

  • Identify your route to breakout and market success. He showed a quadrant comparing breakout styles, “taking by storm” and “laggard to leader” (often an ailing company that is turned around), against emergent and established markets; all of these indicate significant opportunities for growth. Again, he had great examples for each of these, and discussed issues of adapting these strategies to different corporate cultures and geographic/regulatory environments. He presented a second quadrant for those organizations who are staying out in front of their market, with the breakout styles “expanding horizons” and “shifting shape”, also against emergent and established markets. For each of the squares in each of these quadrants, he has an evocative moniker, such as “boundary breakers” or “conquistadors”, to describe the companies that fit that growth strategy profile.
  • Identify your corporate vision, providing a sense of purpose, and considering the viewpoints of all stakeholders. The vision wheel is his technique for finding the corporate vision by breaking down the organization, culture, markets and relationships into their constituent parts, considering both current and future state, ending up with four worksheets across which you will see some common threads to guide the future strategy. Vision can be a bit of a fuzzy concept, but is a guiding star that is critical for direction setting and strategic coordination.
  • Align your value proposition with the needs of your customers. Aspire to create a “magnet company”, one that excites markets, attracts and retains customers, repels new entrants, and renders competitors unable to respond. This doesn’t mean you have to be the best in all aspects of what you do, but you have to be top in the features of what your customers care about, from the general areas of price, features, quality, support, availability and reputation.
  • Assemble an IT-enabled business model that is both efficient and effective; think about your business model as a vehicle for delivering your value proposition, and focus on alignment between those two. He discussed the six pillars of a business model: cost, innovation, reliability, relationships, channels and brand (which are just the other side of the six features discussed in the value proposition); some of these will emerge as your core competencies and become the source of competitive advantage.
  • Every business is both a techno and socio system: you need to consider both hard and soft aspects. He pointed out that it’s necessary to embed IT in strategy implementation, since almost all businesses these days are highly dependent on technology; technology can be used to realize an energized and productive socio-system (e.g., inspiring trust and loyalty) as well as an efficient and productive techno-system.

The breakout strategy system that he lays out has strategic leadership at the center, with products and programs, vision, value proposition, and business model surrounding it.

He finished up with the interaction between business and IT strategy:

  • Breakout strategies are enabled by IT
  • IT contributes to improve financial performance
  • IT supports strategy implementation

Unfortunately, only 19% of companies involve IT in the early strategy phase of growth initiatives; in other words, executives are not really considering how IT can help them with strategy. The impact of IT on business strategies, corporate structure and culture should be better understood. In particular, EA should be involved in strategy at this level, and BPM can be an important enabler of breakout strategies if that is understood early enough in the strategy development cycle.

Really great presentation, and I’ll definitely be tracking down some of his books for more reading on the topic.

By the way, some great tweets are starting to flow at the conference; you can find them at the hashtags #IRMBPM and #IRMEAC.

IRM BPM and EA Conferences Kickoff

Sally Bean and Roger Burlton opened the dual IRM’s colocated BPM and EA conferences in London this morning with a tag-team presentation on the synergies between EA and BPM – fitting nicely with 3-hour workshop that I gave yesterday on BPM in an EA context.

EA provides a framework to structure for transiting from strategy to implementation. BPM – from architecture through implementation – is a process-centric slice that intersects EA at points, but also includes process-specific operational activities. They present EA and BPM as collaborative, synergistic disciplines:

  • Common, explicit view of business drivers and business strategy
  • Shared understanding of business design
  • Disciplined approach to change prioritization and road maps
  • Coherent view of the enterprise through shared models
  • Monitoring fit between current performance and business environment

They briefly introduced John Zachman to the stage, but wouldn’t actually let him speak more than a minute, because we’d never get to the keynote Winking smile. I had the pleasure of having a conversation with John yesterday evening while having a drink with Roger and a few others (which was a bit weird because I had just been talking about his framework in my workshop, and this blog is named after the process column therein); during that time, I helped him get his iPhone onto the hotel wifi, which probably says something about the differences between EA and BPM…