Sunday, August 19, 2007

Business and IT views

I have been looking at the perspective of a business user and comparing that with one of an IT developer. Very interesting observation: let me begin with an example,
Business user view (BPMN):
1. Lets do a credit check. (Activity)
2. If good score do X, if avg do Y and if below avg do Z. (Gateway)

How does this get implemented by IT
Step 1: Credit Check.
1. How do we do credit check - automatic using a computer system or a human operator keying in values and getting the credit score?
2. Is it existing customer or a new customer?
--If existing and in good standing do we still need a credit check?

--- If not existing customer, lets get credit score from Experian.
3. Or should we get multiple scores and then average them out.
4. What happens if I dont get a response back from Experian in 2 minutes given a SSN? Should our IT system try multiple times - of course but then how many 5 -10 and at what interval?

These are SOME of the challenges that your IT staff will need to answer to implement a so called single step in your business process.
Does the solution you are looking at provide this ability?
Moreover, if Experian astarted charging you more $ for the credit check how easily can you move your business to start using scores from Equifax?
Will you need professional services from the vendor to make changes?
Or do you think the solution is standards based so you can have your IT staff make the changes internally?

How about a tool that lets the business user design their business process with the simplicity as outlined in the Business View and gives IT users freedom to implement this activity in keeping with organizational IT policies. Well does something like this exist? Have a closer look at Oracle BPA Suite. - Apologies for the product pitch but yes this tool does preserve the simplicity of BPMN and also gives the IT developer the power to implement the activity as a unit with all these intricacies.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What is BPM - a quest, a journey

I was talking to abunch of people at OMG's BPM think tank and there was a lot of confusion about what exactly is BPM.

Instead of trying to define what BPM is - lets see what is it that people are trying to achieve when they are talking BPM.

Cat 1 - Business users needing to document their processes
Cat 2 - Single project champions, take one process at a time, design and deploy it.
Cat 3 - Users seeking Enterprise BPM.

Cat 1 users can use any tool.
Cat 2 users may succeed in their specific project but then taking it to the next level is going to be a tall order. Reusing vendor specific components will be hard, if not impossible and definitely increase the TCO (total cost of ownership) manifold. Do you want vendor specific code etc to lock your enterprise wide components. Or do you want open standards based implementations.
This leads us to the third category of users who are starting small but thinking big. The components they build will be standard compliant, can be independently reused, change their specific implementation based on new business requirements / technological advancement and would therefore be an enterprise asset. The TCO will be lower if your solution uses industry wide standards adopted by majority of tool vendors, thus guaranteeing a wider skill pool as well.

Hopefully, based on the above there can be a better appreciation and common understanding of BPM but I am sure it is much more than just the categories of use cases. More later.