Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks is a Blessing

I'm not sure if the happiness cycle starts with thankfulness or blessings, but it seems to be a cyclical phenomena. I think I will finish off 2013 and start 2014 with thankfulness.Sustaining thankfulness under all circumstances is the real trick, though. There are so many things to be thankful for in life, it's bewildering to figure out where to start. Here are some of my top categories.

I am thankful for:

Health: It's amazing how our bodies are made to run well most of the time. Having a near death experience in 2011 has humbled me in this category.

My Spouse: Sherry has to put up with a crazy energy bunny personality daily and keeps me on track

My Family: I have a large nuclear family with various personalities that shows that God has a sense of humor

Enough: It seems no matter how we struggle to exist, God gives us enough to make it.

Gifts and Talents: Even though I did work for an education, God blessed me talents that I had no choice in, but enjoy greatly. The most would be artistic and writing gifts.

Inner Peace: Believe me, I have many blessings, but inner peace is the best one God has given me.

My Readers: I appreciate the time you take to read my stuff whether it be good, bad or ugly

Have a Happy Thanksgiving every day if possible :) 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's Not Just People that Collaborate in Modern Processes

There is a lot of buzz around collaboration in process (AKA BPM) activity these days. It because work activities are getting more complex and more in need of specialized knowledge. This requires processes that adapt to multiple knowledge workers collaborating on a process instance or case. To that end, additional forms of process methods and structure are emerging under names like case management, social processes, unstructured processes, adaptable and dynamic processes.

Well, the same is starting to happen with process engines. Ideally all work could be on one engine and that engine would support all forms of process behavior. Realistically, organizations have multiple engines and styles available working in parallel. To this end there are new patterns of process engine, acting as agents, in cooperation today. As process mix best practice process snippets (portions of process) with evolving better practice patterns, process engines will have to learn to cooperate like and with people. In fact people and bots may become interchangeable. See There are three styles I have seen to date:

Homogeneous Distributed Engines:

There are a few process engines that can support multiple process styles on top of multiple and collaborating process engines. Metasonic, with it's Subject Oriented BPM (S-BPM) method and distributed process engines, has the goods today.

Heterogeneous Distributed Engines:

There few vendors that support heterogeneous engines that they have bought at separate times and are trying to allow cooperation between these engines inside the family. They usually do this by having a common user experience and the ability to wrap and call these various engines or reusable features in and around their engines. IBM and OpenText come to mind. There are a few vendors who are engine independent who really do not require one of their process engines at all, but they tend to be for light workflows for now.

Intelligent Bidding Agents:

Agents do not necessarily need a process engine as they can act independently and fire off a request for another agent to perform an action. Precedence is negotiated as needed and dynamic by nature. An example of a goal directed vendor who leverages agents is WhiteStein (Living Systems in the US).  See

Net; Net:

The days are numbered for architectures that dictate and enforce one process engine that all processes run on in the future. First of all, there are few engines that can support all the process styles necessary outside of the intelligent process engines. Secondly, most organizations are combining existing processes, applications and services that have their own engine. I think the more common model will be heterogeneous engines evolving to intelligent and independent agents held together by methods and emerging dynamic design techniques.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Open Text Has a Big Opportunity to Push Process

Open Text has decided to name their strategic process engine and this is a good move. Now that it has done so, it is a good time to examine all of it's other technology stacks and leverage their strategic choice. In addition, OT has support for various vertical solutions that could also benefit from the strategic process engine choice. See

OT is being good about supporting process visibility across most of their process engines through the use of former Manager View (Now Process Intelligence). There are bridges from each of the large usage engines thus allowing for consolidated views of end to end processes. In addition OT is unifying the UX for the process engines and other key technologies and allowing for the leverage of sub-processes in various engines. It is going to take a while, if OT keeps it's eye on the ball, but a gradual move can be accomplished.

Net; Net:  OT is a a much better position today to compete in the process markets (iBPMS & BPMS), but OT will have to keep it's focus on process and intelligent business operations. We will see.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Open Text is Delivering It's Business Operations Platform at Enterprise World

After attending the opening session of Open Text's Enterprise World in Orlando, I couldn't help concluding that OT is aiming at integrating their many technology assets into a business operating platform. While the CEO, Mark Barrenechea, did not use the phrase, it was clear that they are aggregating their technologies in ways to better support business operations.

They have the five major suites that are organized to optimize cross-utilization while incrementally aggregating their technology portfolio through integration and bridging. They are the Discovery Suite, the Process Suite, the Content Suite, the Experience Suite and the Information Exchange Suite. OT also announces the App Works Suite aimed at attracting developers in a way to leverage these suites in the most productive ways to deliver information and process flows. It did hurt that William Shatner showed up as guest speaker to lament the presence of such an information technology company to guide him in his lifetime to make better investments. Captain Kirk did well to amuse the crowd while supporting OT.

I am really only qualified to judge the Process Suite, so I will keep my comments to that suite. As we all know OT has made several investments in BPM technology, but this time they committed to making the Cordys acquisition the strategic process tool. While OT boldly made this statement, they also are designing a co-existence strategy that uses the same UX to wrap all the process engines and leverage each engine as a callable component. This is a good strategy for an organization that chooses to buy technologies and package them together. Cordys gives OT a cloud based, rules enabled process engine that can scale and get OT to better ESB under the covers. Combined with the GSX E-commerce platform, the process suite has potential to grow to support shared processes.

Net; Net:

OT has some good pieces of technology that are being combined. The question is can OT entice clients to their strategic technologies over time. It is possible with the right trade up and pricing options. Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Business Activity is Emergent; Processes Had Better be as Well

The old school view of processes is they are convergent and represent another form of best practices like applications. While processes can support convergent activity, since that is where processes started, they have several different ways of supporting emergent activity. Processes technology is aimed at emerging better practices as well as best practices. New approaches to leverage free and emerging processes will also be evolving. The power of BPM technology to dynamically adapt will be harnessed over the next few years to keep pace with business needs. See  Process technology supports emerging business needs through multiple adaptive approaches discussed in this posting.

Pattern & Event Driven:

Processes technologies are now either subsuming or getting connected to technologies that identify emerging business patterns of interest through complex event technologies, social analytic technologies and automated business process discovery technologies. These technologies either identify emerging patterns of interest or success patterns that have occurred in the past that have gone unnoticed before.

Goal Driven:

Processes have been traditionally flow directed, but now process technologies can support goal directed processes that either use static or dynamic goal models. The ideal support for goal directed processes would include agent technologies that can negotiate collaborative just in time processes.

Constraint Guided:

Processes that are left to wander on their own and adapt automatically or semi-automatically need bumper guards to keep them on track. Constraints, which are inverted rules, can keep processes from going out of bounds and remain compliant despite their new found agility and freedom to act.

Adaptive Case Management:

Case management has always been an excellent way to get knowledge workers to collaborate, but with the advent if adaptive case management, milestones can change dynamically to support emergent cases and work patterns. This allows exceptions to be handled without stopping the case until a new milestone can be designed into the case structure. Just like process paths that do not need to be all pre-planned, cases can evolve.

Hybrid Processes: 

The reality of processes, going forward is that they will be composed of structured best practices and emerging better practices necessitated by emerging business need. This means that processes as we know them will likely use all of the aforementioned techniques and technologies.

Net; Net:

Process folks have to stop being parochial in their approaches and branch out into other forms of successful business process methods and technologies. This is no time to be myopic in our approach to solving business problems with processes

Monday, November 11, 2013

Launching A Process Transformation Effort with a Bang

Often organizations get bogged down into where to start a process effort. There are a number of traditional approaches that organizations tend to traditionally pursue such as pockets of optimization and cost savings opportunities. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, I think there are more opportunistic approaches. There is one pattern that is emerging that is worth pursuing with vigor. Combining incremental revenue generation within the context of a desired transformation.

Raising Revenue to Multiply Opportunities:

During down times cost savings gets a lot of attention, but today raising revenue is the mantra of the CX level; particularly the CEO. By focusing on raising revenue these days is just a smart tactic to win an opportunity to do something bigger. When there is no process vision at the top, this is essential until confidence is built around process efforts. I am seeing more emphasis on customer on-boarding which means that organizations are kicking off a period of competition on speed of revenue acquisition driven by better processes.

See or

Designing a Transformation Target and Roll Out:

If you have visionary management that believes that process can get the organization to new or incremental outcomes, defining a transformation target and plan is essential. If you have incrementally built to a point where designing a transformation makes success, getting a consensus and program defined is an important planning step in designing a transformation that will really work.


Incrementally Delivering Transformations:

Many organization have chased expensive and large scale transformation efforts, but few have delivered the desired results. Today organizations have gotten smarter and tried incrementally achieving results by leveraging the agility and changeability afforded in modem BPM methods and technologies. Decades ago there were only a handful of successful transformations, but today I am seeing many successful transformations that leverage existing systems and incremental techniques to either compete better or to leverage apparently burning platforms


Net; Net:

While I have personally worked on successful large scale transformations, I sure would have appreciated the kinds of plans, methods and technologies available today for transformations

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Mid-sized Bank Getting To Revenue Faster

There is a movement to bring on customers fast and keeping them coming. Here is another example of how smaller organizations can compete with big organizations. Once a smaller organization lands a client and gives them better service, it's hard to steal that customer away. This is a smart way to use BPM to compete.

                    For more Fractal Images, see


This bank competes with large national banks through superior speed and customer responsiveness. A Senior Operational Officer believed that further-enhancing the external customer experience would require accelerating key internal processes. “After interest rates, the primary thing our customers care about is speed,” he says. “They want to be able to close their home or commercial loan and get their funds as quickly as possible.” He believed BPM-based process improvement was the place to start, but he also wanted to create a more mobile and collaborative Enterprise Social environment. He identified the mortgage processes as a first candidate for improvement due to its core importance to the organization and its current limitations, such as manual hand-offs, paper-based systems, limited process visibility, and lack of consistent and sustained communications. “We wanted BPM for core process improvement. We wanted to be more mobile and use Social technology, but we didn’t have a good implementation plan around it". When they saw social collaboration in business process-centric context, they made the move to BPM.

Loan origination involves a combination of structured automation and unstructured human interaction and collaboration. It also creates volumes of paperwork that must be reviewed, approved and maintained. BPM was selected to improve the efficiency of straight-through processing using the platform’s integrated business rules, alerts, escalations, and more. In addition, the bank believed BPM’s ability to present enterprise data via a simple social interface, within the context of established business processes, would increase the speed and quality of human collaboration and decision making in cases that involved exceptions to standard policies.

The Solution:

The team began building the new Mortgage Loan Origination application using the Cloud. This allowed
the team to jump-start development even as it waited for the provisioning of on-premise hardware and move it behind the fire-wall later. The BPM vendors worksocial platform combines the best of BPM work automation with the most innovative capabilities in Social, Mobile, Cloud and Data technologies. BPM
centralized all  mortgage-related communication, processes and data into one platform that allows loan officers, managers and customers to collaborate together to get work done more quickly. Through automation and flexible business rules, the system eliminated reliance on disparate paper forms,
faxes, emails, and snail mail.

Making all of that power available on an iPad/iPhone, Android or BlackBerry means  the Bank’s loan
officers can interact with customers to initiate, check on, or modify a loan request from anywhere. This interaction is created by dynamic case management with structured automation, leading to better interaction
between loan officer and customer.

The Results:

The bank has seen a host of business benefits from its initial implementation. Chief among these is a 30% acceleration of mortgage loan approvals, which directly impacts the quality of the customer experience. BPM delivered this by eliminating multiple days of work and duplication in the process, automatically enforcing the movement of work to its next step. Other received benefits include full process visibility, increased data quality, less re-work, and decreased training times. The improved loan management system helps the bank achieve its mission critical business objectives by integrating disparate legacy systems, overlaying them with a more flexible, natively-mobile architecture and social interface. Making loan officers mobile with an improved workflow system gives them the tools needed to increase efficiency, while collaborating with customers through a simple, user friendly social interface.

Net; Net: 

BPM can not only accelerate revenue increase, but allow for better relationships. This is a great example of a hybrid process. See

This is a highly summarized and anonymous case study based on Appian technology 

See for another example of using BPM to compete with large competitors.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Process Styles: Headed to Hybrid

Today there some large forces that are trying to make us pick process styles rather than solve business problems with processes. There are those who push modeling processes to perfection. There who claim case management is the answer to process problems. Some propose straight through automation and others propose dynamic orchestration of process snippets. Well the truth is we are headed towards processes that have many process styles (hybrid styles). There are many reasons that processes can't really stick to one style, but the ones that I am seeing are as follows:

Super Sized Scopes:

As processes prove themselves their scope of benefit impact are being stretched to larger scopes. Examples would be supply and value chains at the extreme end, but cross organizational unit is where this mixing usually starts. Departments with a high density of knowledge workers would need some kind of unstructured or case management style, but action oriented and heads down production workers would require a more best practice driven structured approach.

Mixture of Work Styles:

Most processes have one major work style. As processes add intelligence and show alternative better practices, work paths and styles will vary. As employees and stringers are enabled to make decisions, they will impact the path that process instances or cases take. Thus processes will have to have multiple styles to deal with the embedded decision points driven by changing desired process outcomes.

Intelligent Adaptability:

As processes become more goal driven in addition to flow driven, complex process styles will become more common. BPM delivers significant dynamic capabilities. As organizations take advantage of these intelligent dynamics, driven by events and analytic behavior, there will be more adaptability that could be human or machine guidance.

Net; Net:

Just like cars are employing multiple drive options, processes will be doing the same. I can't wait to see what these hybrid process deliver. This will introduce more complexity that will have to managed, thus implying some new management approaches such as agent oriented.

See the following blogs for more information on aoBPM