Tuesday, March 27, 2007

BPM Summit Day 1 - Part 3

I went to a presentation by Janelle Hill (quite strong presenter, I must say), about new roles in the BPM area. She talked about the new "Process Excellence Center" or PEC, and the typical roles involved with BPM: process owner, process analyst, process consultant, process architect, PEC manager.
I must confess I am a bit hesitant. Everytime a new technology or thoughleadership reaches us, we are talking about new competence units. I remember the BI cc, the Java cc, the Client/Server cc, the Process Modelling cc. Sure, as a first step, some network of expertise is needed, but let's face it: do we have a "Money management center of excellence"? No, we have integral management, where finance is a part of the responsibility of a manager. Process management should be the same, with, sure, a backoffice or consultancy organization to support this manager.
What did trigger me was the notion of the expectations of IT and the attitude towards risk of management. When you have a situation where management is low risk, and sees IT as utility, coming from the IT side, pushing BPM will be very difficult. And trust me, I have been there... Working for an insurance company, with basically no appetite for innovation (unless it was pushed down from management), being an BPM evangalist was not easy....

I was quite happy being at the next presentation, by Singularity. Well, ok, this guy was just reading out-loud (yep) the full presentation (including the jokes, ouch!). But it did make a good point accross: case management is a fundamentally different add-on to BPM.
This is something I have been noticing as well: when modelling processes, you will come into business situations that will seriously challenge your modelling skills and also will exceed currect "production workflow" capabilities of BPM-suites.
The singularity guy showed a pyramid - with in the base typical "hygiene" processes: able to model at design time, limited complexity, limited collaboration. In the higher area's you get to processes that can be classified as...
- Many possibly events that need to be handled, with unpredictable occurence and sequence
- Intelligence at RUN time, a case handler that will decide that certain steps are needed in addition, or certain tasks will not be...
In one word "Judgemental processes". Examples include a doctor's visit, certain insurance claimes, pre-sales, exceptions, etc. Highly unpredictable and context-sensitive.
In my experience when you hit these types of processes and trying to BPMN them, you end up with a milion exceptions....
The key concepts in those types of processes:
- Process fragments, little pieces of process that can be added to a process instance
- Business rules, that will govern which fragments can be added in what conditions
- Events that will trigger changing the case processes and approach
- Case state that will determine where we are, and if we are finished
Definitly a new BPM area!

A quite good presentation was done by Nuon, one of the leading utilities companies in The Netherlands. Finally a solid BPM and SOA real-life projects, with some honest lessons and CSF's.
Their need was to reach as state where they were able to change processes in a matter of days/week instead of the typical 18! months. The market (customers, compliance, take-overs and mergers) was requiring this. They created a flexible SOA infrastructure with a BPM engine on top, and stepwise refined it. A bottom-up approach, quickly spreading the word and adding processes step by step.
A quite good prep-action was to define a reference architecture with layers and principles, around among others the service governance, the change control, etc. Some policies included:
- Stateless services
- A provider of contentservices (data, functionality connected to a business process) will not deliver the SOA/BPM infrastructure and vice versa (to prevent vendor lockin)
Well, they have processes running! Even changing them (cycle time: less than a month!). And with bottom-line success, including a nice decreasing days sales outstanding (DSO).

A last presentation by Global 360. Some concepts:
- Transformational applications versus tactical applications
- If your process needs more than 2 systems to work, forget the agility....
- Process intelligence (including BAM) will likely to be a separate domain, with it's own technology (BAM, simulation, workforce planning)

A last gem by Janelle Hill:
- In our age of information overload, process provides a context for information! More about this later, based on a great presentation on day 2 about collaborative BPM trends...

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