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.

SAP Run Better Tour: Business Analytics Overview

Dan Kearnan, senior director of marketing for business analytics, provided a overview of SAP’s business analytics in the short breakout sessions following the keynote. Their “run smarter” strategy is based on three pillars of knowing your business, deciding with confidence and acting boldly; his discussion of the “act boldly” part seemed to indicate that the round-tripping from data to events back to processes is more prevalent than I would have thought based on my previous observations.

We covered a lot of this material in the bloggers briefing a couple of weeks ago with Steve Lucas; he delved into the strategy for specific customers, that is, whether you’re starting with SAP ERP, SAP NetWeaver BW or non-SAP applications as input into your analytics.

He briefly addressed the events/process side of things – I think that they finally realized that when they bought Sybase, they picked up Aleri CEP with it – and their Event Insight solution is how they’re starting to deliver on this. They could do such a kick-ass demo using all of their own products here: data generated from SAP ERP, analyzed with BusinessObjects, events generated with Event Insight, and exception processes instantiated in NetWeaver BPM. NW BPM, however, seems to be completely absent from any of the discussions today.

He went through a number of the improvements in the new BI releases, including a common (and easier to use) user interface across all of the analytics products, and deep integration with the ERP and BW environments; there is a more detailed session this afternoon to drill into some of these.

I’m going to stick around to chat with a few people, but won’t be staying for the afternoon, so my coverage of the SAP Run Better Tour ends here. Watch the Twitter stream for information from others onsite today and at the RBT events in other cities in the days to come, although expect Twitter to crash spectacularly today at 1pm ET/10am PT when the iPad announcement starts.

Blogger/Analyst Session with Mark Aboud at SAP Run Better Tour

We had the chance for a small group of bloggers and analysts (okay, I was probably the only one with “blogger” on my name tag) with Mark Aboud, Managing Director of SAP Canada, and Margaret Stuart, VP for the Canadian BusinessObjects division. Since this was a roundtable Q&A, I’ll just list some of the discussion points.

  • 50% of SAP Canadian customers are small and medium businesses, sold through their partner network. ERP sales tend to be made through larger partners, whereas analytics are handled by a larger number of smaller partners as well.
  • Business ByDesign has only been launched in Canada within the past 60 days, making it difficult to tell much about the uptake here. There is one live production customer in Canada now, although they were not able to name names. Pricing and minimum number of users is similar to the US offering.
  • It sounds like HANA is a focus in Canada, but nothing concrete to talk about yet – seems like the analytics sales team is being focused on it and has built a good pipeline. Maple Leaf Foods, who spoke at the keynote, is considering it. The use cases exist, but the customer may not realize that the solutions to big data analytics are within their reach.
  • StreamWork is pretty much a big zero in Canada right now: they’re starting to talk to customers, but it sounds like very early days here. I was promised a follow-up on this question.
  • They’re putting a lot of weight on mobile apps for the future, particularly in industries that have remote users. I’m envisioning an underground miner with an iPad. Winking smile
  • The use of analytics such as BusinessObjects has become much more agile: it’s not taking 6 months to create an analytical view any more, the end users have the expectation that this can be done in a much shorter time.
  • I posed the question about how (or whether) all these great analytics are being used to generate events that feed back automatically into business processes; although there was recognition that there’s some interesting potential, it was a bit of a blank. This is the same question that I posed at last year’s SAPPHIRE about creating a link between their sustainability initiatives and BPM – I’m seeing this as a critical missing link from analytics through events back to processes.

A good opportunity for Q&A with Aboud and Stuart about what’s happening with SAP in Canada. Since most of my focus with SAP has been through the US conferences, it was nice to see what’s happening closer to home.

SAP Run Better Tour Toronto

SAP is holding a Run Better Tour to highlight some of their new releases and customer success stories, and today it’s in Toronto which allows me to check it out without having to get on an airplane. I attended the Women’s Leadership Forum breakfast this morning, featuring Amanda Lang of CBC News, and she’s speaking again in the general keynote, along with Mark Aboud, Managing Director of SAP Canada.

To go off on a tangent for a moment, Lang had an interesting anecdote at breakfast from an interview that she did with the ambassador from Norway. Apparently, Norway mandated that there be equal representation of women in senior government and corporate board positions; all of the cries of “but there are no women to take these roles” turned out to be completely untrue once they were actually required to look for them. Very reminiscent of the brouhaha around women speakers at tech conferences that inevitably arises several times per year.

In her general keynote, Lang focused on the economy and market forces (after making a quick joke about economists getting laid), and the factors that could impact a return to prosperity: world instability, a repeat of the financial crisis due to mismanagement, and a decrease in productivity. In the relatively small Canadian market, we have no control over the first two of these – a financial crisis that impacts us is unlikely to come from our conservatively-run banks, but from US or European financial institutions – but we can be more productive. However, our productivity has declined in the past 20-30 years, and we are at risk of leaving our children worse off than we are. This started when our currency was so cheap, and our exports were selling at $0.60 on the dollar: no need to increase productivity when you can keep doing the same old thing and still make money at it. However, the past 8 years or so have seen an exchange increase such that our dollar sits near par with the US, which makes our exports much less competitive. Since we haven’t increased productivity, we don’t have better widgets to sell for less in spite of the exchange leveling. Productivity and innovation, although not identical, are highly correlated: we need to have more people inside organizations who challenge the status quo and bring forward better ideas for how to do things.

Mark Aboud started his presentation with the idea that you can’t just get better, you have to get better faster than your competition. Some of this is based on taming the explosion of data that is resulting from the digitalization of human culture: all that needs to be gathering and analyzed, then made available to a variety of constituents via a number of different channels. Another contributor is social media, both in terms of the power that it has a platform, but also in raising the expectations for user experience: the consumer experience is very powerful, but the typical employee experience is pretty lame. He moved on to talk about SAP, and particularly SAP Canada, where only 40% of their business is based on ERP: much of the rest is business analytics. This stress on analytics became obvious as he talked about one of their customers, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and how they’re using a graphical real-time dashboard as their key interface in the emergency department to indicate how well they’re operating, and highlighting problem areas: a great analytics-in-action example, although it’s not clear where the underlying data is coming from. He also talked about CN Railways, and how they’re using Business Objects analytics to reduce their fuel costs.

Last up in the keynote was someone from Maple Leaf Foods (missed the name) talking about their ERP implementation, and how they use it to manage a company that has grown by acquisition and has very different types of operations in different regions, with 200 different systems and islands of data. They are trying to standardize their business processes across these units at some level, and started rolling out SAP in all of the business units early in 2011, with a planned completion date of early 2013. They’ve done 35 go-lives already, which necessitates a minimum of customization and, sometimes, changing their business processes to match out-of-the-box SAP rather than spending the time to customize SAP.

Good balance of keynotes; I’m now off to a bloggers’ briefing with Mark Aboud.


Not a lot of blogging yesterday; a couple of good keynotes (but I’m not going to blog about Richard Branson, Al Gore and Colin Powell), a press conference, the sustainability roundtable, a couple of other short meetings and networking at Blogger Central. Some links to items of interest:

Today, I’ll be getting a briefing on NetWeaver BPM, what’s happened in the last months and what’s coming up in future releases; I haven’t heard a peep since TechEd last fall.

Can We Make A Sustainability-BPM Connection?

Peter Graf, SAP’s Chief Sustainabilty Officer, and Scott Bolick, VP Sustainability, spoke to a group of bloggers and analysts at a sustainability roundtable today. Graf started with SAP’s definition of sustainability: increase short and long-term profitability by holistically managing economic, social and environmental risks and opportunities. Sustainability changes business processes drastically, especially those processes that span multiple organizations. SAP is leading by example, improving their own internal efficiencies by enacting sustainability measures such as reducing carbon emissions, but also see their software as an enabler for other organizations to implement sustainable solutions. SAP has a number of customers that are using SAP solutions across five general areas of sustainability: carbon impact, environmental compliance, people health and safety, product safety, and sustainability performance management. In addition to cost savings, sustainability can become a recruitment factor: younger people, in particular, want to work for a company that shares their environmental concerns.

They have made sustainability a focus of presentations at this conference, but also have made a number of sustainable logistics choices at the actual event. They have a new sustainability report that has already become hugely popular for fostering stakeholder dialog, and a sustainability map structured by line of business and business case. They are the first technology company to join the Sustainability Consortium, and we heard about acquisitions, customers and partners that are all focused on sustainability.

SAP sees Business Objects Explorer as being a key tool for helping to identify areas for sustainability; for example, providing an analytical view into office and plant costs to determine where unusual electricity consumption is occurring. SAP uses this internally for their own sustainability data analysis, and had a nice spiffy iPad version to show us, since you can’t have a conference these days without showing an iPad at least once. Analytics, especially real-time dashboards that allow for drilling into data, have been gaining popularity in a number of areas lately: we’ve seen everything from academic papers to mainstream reports in The Economist discussing analytics, and this is just one more high-profile example.

Bolick then took the stage to talk about their new sustainability report in more detail; if you want more information on everything from the basic definitions of sustainability to measuring performance to more complex solutions, check it out online. This is not a static PDF that you’ll never read; this is an interactive website that includes up-to-date SAP sustainability news and social content, as well as their own analytics tools allowing a drill-down into performance (e.g., carbon footprint reduction) numbers. The sustainability map is pretty interesting (under the Solutions tab), showing all the different targets for sustainability, organized by who is responsible for solutions in that area.

SAP Sustainability Map

There’s a pretty strong commitment to corporate transparency from SAP: they show both positive and negative performance measures in the report, such as the significant drop in employee engagement. This would make a great tool for other companies to measure and publish their sustainability measures; Tom Rafferty asked when they planned to productize a sustainability report generator for their customers, but since this is currently pretty specific to SAP’s operations, it’s not clear how easy that would be to do; they spoke about the potential to provide at least part of this as an on-demand solution, as well as providing benchmark performance data to help companies measure their “return on sustainability”.

The conversation came back to business processes, and the impact of IT in enabling more efficient and sustainable processes. There’s a key piece missing, however: their focus today was on analyzing sustainability performance data for human consumption, but I’m not hearing anything about using those analytics as events to feed back into any sort of automated process optimization, where optimization in this sense would be sustainability performance optimization rather than the usual type of process optimization that we do. I suspect that much of this sort of optimization is still fairly manual due to the nature of the measurement and what is required to optimize it (e.g., number of women in the workforce in order to create a more sustainable workforce), and also since many of these are such high level measures that they don’t relate to just a single process: optimizing sustainability performance is up in the first row of your enterprise architecture, and over in those columns dealing with motivation, and we haven’t yet worked out all the transformations needed to map that down to the nitty-gritty of actual business processes and rules.

Credit to Jon Reed for the title of this blog post; I was in the blogger area of the communications center (did I mention that SAP’s treatment of media in general and social media in particular really rocks?) and I told him my impressions of the roundtable and how I thought they should have more of a focus on a round-trip push back to BPM, and he popped out the phrase “the sustainability-BPM connection”. Thanks, Jon!

Conference Season Begins

It’s been quiet for several months for conferences, but things are heating up again for the next four weeks. Here’s my upcoming schedule:

  • This week, I’m at PegaWorld in Philadelphia, including chairing a workshop on Wednesday morning on case management
  • The week of May 3rd, IBM Impact in Las Vegas
  • The week of May 10th, TIBCO’s TUCON in Las Vegas
  • The week of May 17th, SAP SAPPHIRE in Orlando

If you’re attending any of these events, be sure to look me up. I’ll be blogging from all of them. You can find these, and many other BPM-related events, at the BPM Events calendar. If you have an event to add to the calendar, just let me know.

Disclosure: each of the vendors pays my travel expenses for me to attend their user conference. They do not, however, have any editorial control over what I write while at the conference.

Process Design Slam 2009 – The Final Judgement #SAPTechEd09 #BPXslam09

To wrap up the proceedings from last night, I was asked to critique the efforts of the groups and pick a winner: as it turned out, I was the only judge. Each of the groups did great work, and I want to call out some of the specific efforts:

  • The Business Use Case group had a great written story, including a lot of cultural and social background for our fictional city in order to provide context for the implementation.
  • The BPM Methodologies group had excellent documentation on the wiki, including graphics and charts to make it clear how the methodologies fit with the other groups.
  • The Business Rules group were stars at collaboration with the other groups, in part because everyone quickly realized the importance of business rules to data, UI and process, and solicited their input.
  • The UI and Dashboards group created mockups of monitoring dashboards that provide a starting point for future design slam work.
  • The Collaborative Modeling group led at international collaboration, using Gravity (process modeling within Google Wave) interactively with team members in Europe during the session, and produced a business process model.
  • The Service Implementation group also kicked off implementation, creating a service orchestration process model as a starting point.

In general, everyone seemed to have a good understanding of the importance of data, rules and process, but there could have been better cross-pollination between the groups; in future design slams, that could be helped by requiring some group members to move partway through the evening in order to ensure that there is a better understanding on both sides, something that is fairly common in real-life businesses where people are seconded from one department to another for part of a project. Although a certain amount of collaboration did occur, that was one area that requires more work. I saw one tweet that referred to the design slam as crowdsourced rather than collaborative, although I’m not sure that I would say that: crowdsourcing usually has more of a flavor of individuals contributing in order to achieve their own goals, whereas this was a collaboration with common goals. However, those goals were a bit fragmented by group.

Another issue that I had was the lack of an architectural view of process design: although all of the groups are contributing to a common process (or set of processes), there is little thought around the transformations required to move the process list developed by the Business Use Case group to the process model developed by the Collaborative Modeling group to the process design developed by the Service Implementation group. In enterprise architecture terms, this is a case of transforming models from one layer to another within the process column of the architecture (column 2 if you’re a Zachman fan); understanding these transformations is key so that you don’t reinvent the process at each layer. One of the goals of model-driven design is that you don’t do a business-level process model, then redraw it in another tool; instead, the business-level process model can be augmented with service-level information to become an executable process without recreating the model in another tool. In reality, that often doesn’t happen, and the business analysts draws a process in one tool (such as Visio, or in the case of the design slam, Gravity), then IT redraws it in a tool that will create an executable process (NetWeaver in this case). I have a couple of suggestions here:

  • Combine the Business Use Case and Collaborative Modeling groups into a single group, since they are both doing high-level business analysis. This would allow the process list to be directly modeled in the same group without hand-off of information.
  • Reconsider the use of tools. Although I have a great deal of appreciation for Gravity (I am, after all, a geek), the fact that it does not share a model with the execution environment is problematic since the two groups creating process models were really off doing their own thing using different tools. Consider using NetWeaver 7.2, which has a business analyst perspective in the process composer, and having the business use case/collaborative modeling group create their initial non-technical models in that environment, then allow the service implementation team to add the technical underpinnings. The cool Wave collaboration won’t be there, or maybe only as an initial sketching tool, but the link will be made between the business process models and the executable models.

When it came down to a decision, my choice of the winner was more a product of the early state of the design slam rather than the efforts or skills of the group: I suspect that my view would change if I were judging in Vienna or Bangalore when the process is further along. I selected the Business Use Case group as the winner at this point based on the four judging criteria: although they failed to include alternative media, their story was clear and well-written, it fit well with the other groups’ efforts, and they used good social and collaborative methods within their group for driving out the initial solutions.

The winning team was made up of Greg Chase, Ulrich Scholl and Claus von Riegen, all of SAP, with input from a few others as subject-matter experts on public utilities and electricity production, and started the discussions on pricing plans that ended up driving much of the Business Rules group’s work. Ulrich also has solar cells on his house that connect to the grid, so he has in-depth knowledge of the issues involved with micro-generation, and was very helpful at determining the roles involved and how people could take on multiple roles. They leveraged a lot of the content that was already on the wiki, especially references to communities with experience in micro-generation and virtual power plants. Besides this initial leg up on their work, they were forced to work fast to produce the initial use cases and processes, since that provided necessary input to the other groups to get started with their work, which left them with more of the evening to write a great story around the use case (but, apparently, not enough time to add any graphics or multimedia).

There was a huge amount of effort put into the design slam, both in the preceding weeks through conference calls and content added to the wiki, and at the session last night in Phoenix. I believe that a huge amount of groundwork has been laid for the design slams upcoming in Vienna and Bangalore, including process model, service orchestration diagrams, business rules decision tables, and monitoring dashboard mockups.

I had a great time last night, and would happily participate in a future process design slam.

Process Design Slam 2009 #SAPTechEd09 #BPXslam09


We’re just getting started with the Process Design Slam: one of the face-to-face sessions that make up the collaborative design process that started a couple of months ago on the Design Slam wiki. Marilyn Pratt has identified the six groups that will each work on their part of the design, collaborating between groups (a.k.a. poaching talent) as required, and even bringing in people from the Hacker Night and Business Objects events going on in the same area.

  • Business Use Case, led by Greg Chase
  • Collaborative Modeling, led by David Herrema
  • Business Rules, led by James Taylor
  • Service Implementation, led by John Harrikey
  • BPM Methodologies, led by Ann Rosenberg
  • UI and Dashboards, led by Michelle Crapo

Right now, everyone has formed into initial groups based on their interests, and is having some initial discussions before the food and beer arrives at 8:30. Since there was an initial story and process model developed by the online community, everyone is starting at something close to a common point. Participants within a group (and even the leaders) could change throughout the evening.

By the end of the night, each team will have created a story about their work, and give a 5-minute presentation on it. The story must include additional media such as video and images, and in addition to the presentation, it must be documented on the wiki. Each story must also be related to the output of the other teams – requiring some amount of collaboration throughout the evening – and include pointers on what worked and didn’t work about their process, and what they would do differently in the future.

At that point, the judging panel, which includes me plus Marc Rosson, Uli Scholl, Ann Rosenberg and Dick Hirsch, will render our judgment on the creations of the groups based on the following criteria:

  • Clarity and completeness of the story on the wiki, particularly if it could be understood without the presentation.
  • Creative use of media.
  • How well this story ties into the overall storyline of the night.
  • The social process that was used to create the story.

I’m floating around between groups to listen in on what they’re doing and some of their initial thoughts.


Beer o’clock. The Business Rules team is still deep in conversation, however, and Business Use Case comes over to them to ask for help in bringing the business rules and business use case together. Business Use Case outlines the actors that they have identified, and the high-level business processes that they have identified in addition to the initial business process of bringing new consumer-producers online.


BPM Methodologies has a much wider view than just this project: developing methodologies that can be used across (SAP) BPM projects, including assessing the business process maturity of an organization in order to determine where they need to start, and identifying the design roles. In the context of the design slam, they will be helping to coordinate movement of people between the teams in order to achieve the overall goals.


Service Implementation – viewed by groups such as Business Use Case as “the implementers” – have revised the original process map from a service standpoint; looking at the services that were required led to a process redesign. They are using the Composite Designer to model the service orchestration, including the interfaces to the services that they need and external services such as FirstLook, an wind assessment service based on location data. In their service orchestration process, they assume that the process is initiated with the data gathered from a user interface form, and they focus primarily on the automated process steps. Ginger Gatling doesn’t let me leave the table until I tell them what they have to do to win; I advise them to update the wiki with their story.


The Collaborative Modeling group is modeling the business process using Gravity, online with a couple of participants in Europe. This is a process model from a business standpoint, not an executable model; there is no concept of the linkage between this and what is being done by the Service Implementation team. I suggest that they should head over there to compare processes, since these should (at some level) just be different perspectives on the same process.


Business Use Case is identifying the necessary processes based on their earlier collaboration with Business Rules: this has given them a good understanding of business case, goals and incentives. They’re considering both human and automated usages, and have fed their results to the UI, Business Rules and Collaborative Modeling teams.


Business Rules states that they’ve had to gather information from numerous sources, and the challenge is to sequence it properly: data is captured by the UI, but is driven by the Business Use Case. They didn’t work with the Collaborative Modeling group directly, but there are links between what they do and what’s happening in the process. They’re also interested in using historical usage data to determine when to switch consumers between usage plans.


UI and Dashboards managed to recruit a developer who is actually coding some of their interfaces; they were visited by many of the other groups to discuss the UI aspects, since the data gathered by the UI drives the rest of the process and rules, and the data generated by the process drives the dashboard interfaces. They feel that they had the best job since they could just be consumers and visualize the solutions that they would like to have.


Presentations start. Marilyn Pratt is being the MC, and Greg Chase is wrangling the wiki to show what has been documented by each of the groups. Half of the Service Implementation team just bailed out. I have to start paying attention now. Checking out the wiki pages and summarizing the presentations:

  • Business Use Case worked with the UI, Collaborative Modeling and Business Rules teams, since those teams required the business use cases in order to start their work. They developed a good written story including cultural/social background about the fictional city where the power generation plan would go into effect. They defined the roles that would be involved (where one person could take on more than one role, such as a consumer that is also a producer), and the processes that are required in order to handle all of the use cases. They did not use any presentation/documentation media besides plain text.
  • BPM Methodologies had excellent documentation with the use of graphics and tables to illustrate their points, but this was a quite general methodology, not just specific to this evening’s activities. They worked briefly with the other groups and created a chart of the activities that each of these groups would do relative to the different phases in the methodology. I found the methodology a bit too waterfall-like, and not necessarily a good fit with the more agile collaborative methods needed in today’s BPM.
  • Business Rules focused on the rules related to signing up a new user with the correct pricing plan, documenting the data that must be collected and an initial decision table used to select a plan, although no graphics or other non-text media. They worked with the Business Use Case team and the UI team to drive the underlying business use cases and data collection.
  • UI and dashboards created the initial mockups that can be used as a starting point for the design slam in Vienna in a couple of weeks. They worked with Business Rules and Business Use Case in order to nail down the required user data inputs, and what is required for monitoring purposes, and included some great graphics of the monitoring dashboards (although not the data collection form).
  • Collaborative Modeling used Gravity (process modeling in Google Wave) not just for modeling with the group around the table, but also with participants in Germany and the Netherlands. They included photos of the team as well as screen snaps of the Gravity Wave that they created, although the text of the story documented on the wiki isn’t really understandable on its own. I’m not sure that they spent enough time with other groups, especially the Service Implementation group.
  • Service Implementation talked to the Business Rules and UI teams to discuss rules and data, but felt that they were running blind since there wasn’t enough of the up-front work done for them to do any substantial work. They used placeholders for a lot of the things that they didn’t know yet, and modeled the service orchestration. The documentation in the wiki is very rudimentary, although includes the process map that they developed; it’s not clear, however, how the process model developed in Collaborative Modeling relates to their map.


And now, on to the judging – I’ll write up the critique and results in a later post.