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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Center of Excellence: much more than a tool shop

The recent Capgemini global survey highlights a couple of aspects of the BPM experience that underline the importance of governance – something that we believe is best delivered via a Center of Excellence (CoE).
Firstly, 82% of our survey respondents say BPM should be a C-Level concern. In organizations where this is the case, processes tend to be mature. So there’s a clear link between CxO involvement with BPM and improved performance, both of processes and of the organization as a whole.
A second striking finding from the survey is how many organizations identify silo culture as a key inhibitor to project success.

These responses raise two important questions:
  • How does CxO involvement translate into better performance, and what is it that these organizations are doing (and that others need to do) to achieve these results?
  • How do you prevent interdepartmental squabbles, or manage them through to a successful conclusion?
In our view, the answer to both questions lies in governance and governance is best achieved by putting in place an effective CoE: a dedicated governing body for the efficient utilization of BPM, and the resources and assets associated with it.
How does a CoE help? CxOs’ input to BPM is critically important, but they rarely have the time to resolve the ongoing daily issues that occur in running a program. The CoE makes the most of that scarce CxO time by taking care of day-to-day governance issues (including inter-silo differences), so that the CxO can focus on the strategic aspects of BPM. A CoE that has clear backing from a BPM-aware CxO acts as an extension of the CxO, helping to ensure that BPM is taken seriously by the whole organization.
What do we mean by a CoE?
Here at Capgemini we take a wider view than most of what constitutes a CoE. Typically, organizations are content to sit 10 developers in a room and call them the CoE. If there is a slightly greater level of sophistication, the CoE will also include some best practices relating to delivery, development standards, methods, and tools.
However, what these rudimentary CoEs miss is the governance element – and our survey tells us that that’s the most valuable aspect of a CoE. Governance is what gets the departments talking to one another. It also provides a framework for resolving inter-silo issues. The result is better processes, and better performance.
To succeed in overcoming the problem of the silo culture, the role of the CoE must include:
•             Aligning goals and objectives
•             Resolving disputes about priorities and methods
•             Allocating resources
The CoE may also perform a range of other functions, shown on the diagram below.
CoEs can carry out a wide range of functions
How governance via a CoE overcomes silo issues
Cross-functional processes are typically hampered by individuals who:
  • Are protecting fiefdoms
  • Have unaligned objectives
  • Are unable or unwilling to agree on priorities
  • Are protecting current systems or processes
A CoE governance structure should mediate and manage these types of issues. The CoE should have sufficient authority to decide business priorities, and to persuade recalcitrant managers to toe the line in the name of shared objectives, rather than insisting on goals of their own.
Three elements are needed: a forum for debate (the Business Architecture Design group), a group with the authority to enforce the forum’s decisions (the Design Authority), and a joint business-IT forum to oversee the whole process (the Steering Committee).
Possible decision-making structure for a CoE

Giving the business a voice
The role of the Business Architecture Design group is to allow business issues to be properly debated and aired. IT people are usually relatively experienced and sophisticated in using this type of forum, and can dominate business users who are often trying this way of working for the first time.
It’s important therefore to encourage business users to participate in debating and resolving issues. Indeed, many decisions are purely business-related and require little or no input from IT, though IT will of course be represented in the Business Architecture Design group, and on the Steering Committee.
Governance via a CoE: the key to better performance
Governance and the related processes and frameworks should be a central part of the CoE remit. A CoE that takes responsibility for governance, and that is backed by the CxO, can resolve inter-silo issues, allowing the organization to achieve better and better performance.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

BPM in the cloud, the pluggable enterprise gets one step closer.

I wanted to see how BPM in the cloud was maturing in 2012, so I googled “BPM in the Cloud” , as you do  and I found this groovy little company, Elite Value Solutions  They have a great proposition, BPMCloud, for $99 a month, they provide you with a complete BPM development infrastructure.  I can’t see a rules engine as part of the product stack which, in my opinion is a bit of gaping hole however, for a no experience required, scalable, backed up service that’s a pretty good deal. 

In addition the proposition appears to contain some neat functions such as;  a 100% Web 2.0 user interface, mashup, hot deployments and SOA compatibility.  now this isn’t an advertisement and I’m not being endorsed by these guys,  however the Elite proposition just demonstrates that the virtual business or pluggable enterprise is just around the corner.  

I tried to sell my wife the vision of the pluggable enterprise,  recently, three friends came over to dinner and they were discussing how to set up their  Trader training company,  I suggested to them, looking at web based products such as "Sugar CRM" for example would provide all of the sales and marketing processes, elite Inc and their pluggable processes could provide all of their back office operations and adding Facebook to provide a window to their customers and online community.  All at very low cost.

Propositions like BPMCloud  are only just the beginning, my dream is to set up my own virtual enterprise with all the services I need available from a pick and mix menu on the cloud.  I’ll have global reach, robust security and backups, all for one flat monthly.  Best of all I will only have to worry about running my consulting business the entire infrastructure will be someone else’s concern.  From the looks of things I won’t have to wait very long. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

A Christmas Case Definition

How do you define Case?  How many times have I been asked this question in the past year?   Forget “Adaptive” or “Dynamic”, people just want to define this thing they are trying to automate.   And the more I think about it the distinction is important, why because in the definition you begin to distinguish some key elements that are what make a case unique, specifically in BPM terms and therefore what must be defined in order to achieve a robust and flexible technology solution.

A case is a collection of data that must be evaluated against organisational policy or procedure to determine the appropriate outcome. Following this the key elements of case are therefore;

  • Data paper or electronic docs or electronic info entered into system
  • Policy = Business Rules SLA and the appropriate role to apply that is empowered to make that decision
  • Procedure = Route or process the case must follow
  • Outcome = decision result

In summary what we are looking at are a collection of attributes Routes Rules Roles Reports and Results.

And that is my final blog about case… least for 2011 have a happy Christmas one and all.

Friday, 16 December 2011

BIMIXS is a really cool tool for managing ad hoc processes, I can't see it being a market leading product, but I do think Other vendors should bring this type of functionality into their BPM solutions.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My erstwhile companion (and boss) Bob Scott apprised me of the  fact that not only had Kofax software purchased Singularity a Microsoft focussed BPM solution, but also that  Progress  have bought  Corticon rules engine.  A perfect match in my opinion, every BPM tool should have a robust rules engine, not just an OEM add on or primitive routing only capabilities. Indeed the  BPM market consolidation continues apace and as Neil ward Dutton says in his latest editorial this aggregation in the market will only continue through 2012.

This marriage of BRMS and BPM  started many moons ago Capgemini, implemented a now revolutionary solution for the national assembly for Wales using Ilog and Filenet. to automate the assessment and payment of rural farm payments.   

My prediction for the future is that more and more applicaitons will seek to abstract business logic in separate tools, where they can be accesses, created updated and amended as necessary in natural (or close approximaiton of ) language like oracles   OIPA  solution. Rules and process management, will become like database management is today, as nautural to us as mom's apple pie.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

I stumbled on this linked in discussion on my favourite topic Case Management What is it? and felt complled to respond. I know it's going to get me in trouble but sometimes you've just got to stand up and be counted.  I'm repeating my response here for wider viewing and discussion.  

I whole heartedly agree with John (Pyke), Case management has been around for donkey's years, the old workflow tools did a reasonable job (if configured correctly) at case management and provided significant improvement to organisational processes.

There is no doubt that the tools we have today are more sophisticated and allow us to deal with ad hoc events within a process. That does not make case management new it means we have better tools available to help us manage the same requirement.

I weary of vendors trying to explain how new this is. I constantly have to remind my clients that a case is still just a way of an organisation dealing with an event insurance claim, complaint, customer on boarding, change of address etc in a consistent manner, to achieve some specified objective. Processes after all are graphical representations of policy and procedure.

Often the customer wants to do something that doesn't fit prescribed rules and policies so and yes dynamic capabilities allow us to capture those actions as part of the process. Olivia Bushe of Singularity states that Dynamic Case Management (DCM) is new because we provide knowledge workers with information, or because DCM solution cross multiple industry sectors. I have implemented Case Management in CRM solutions and knowledge management systems before that and workflow solutions before that.

Just becasue we can apply this solution across industries sectors is a pretty weak argument, i have implemented pre DCM solutions in every sector from Central and local government, utilities, oil and gas as well as in financial services.

Many vendors say that case management is best suited to unstructured ad hoc processes. This is nonsense structured processes like insurance claims have been handled by BPM and workflow tools and CRM applications for decades and they do a great job of bringing the right information to the right person and the right time. DCM I admit adds the capability to deal with the adhoc more elegantly but that is it, everything else about DCM is no different to what went before.

We have been applying process to cases (i.e. a collection of information about an event. for many years using all manner of different solutions. So trying to define adding process to case as a distinction is meaningless.

Pabo Trilles lists a number of must have requirements for a DCM solution ;


·         Management by BPM Processes
·          Business Rules Management (not to be confused with Process Rules)
 Agile management of Documents and Web Content
·          Elements of Information, Communication and Collaboration between employees and with people external to the entity
·          Processes with the ability to deviate the flow at any given time, to other processes (with or without return)
·          Management of mandatory tasks, both planned and unplanned, with Dynamic Forms capable of appearing and being hidden according to the circumstances
·          Agile creation of additional steps for the element control of the cases
·          Tools to observe, control and analyze the execution of each case as a whole, as well as analyze the combined results of terminated cases for continuous process improvement

all but two of these, management of mandatory tasks and agile creation of additional steps, is absolutely no different to a workflow solution of the 1980's. For example the CAPM project for the national assembly for Wales automated the process of rural farm payments with a workflow solution and a rules engine. Way before PRPC. This was an award winning solution; ground breaking given that it was one of the earliest use cases of using Ilog with Filenet.

In older solutions dealing with adhoc requests meant routing a task to a "knowledge worker" who was empowered to make a decision. They might have to consult other co-workers and get agreement on the resolution in an email but it resolved the issue. Today presumably that knowledgeworker would use the BPM solution to create the steps to route the request for the exception to a colleague instead of using email, making it part of the process, visible, auditable and reusable if this event occurs again in the future.

For those stating that DCM is a fusion of BPM and ECM what do you think the imaging and workflow solutions were doing? Filenet and Documentum and a host of others have been fusing workflow with document management for quite some time.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Keep it Simple Stupid

I like Sandy Kemsley, she always gets it just right, BPM projects often turn into long drawn out affairs because of scope creep or too many conflicting priorities.  In a recent article  Keep it Simple  Sandy gives some practical advice on how to cut complexity out of BPM programs.  

In addition to Sandy's sage advice I would add that it is really important to keep those first projects simple in terms of integration points.   

Too often projects turn into nightmares when they go integration mad on the first delivery, when development teams are simply just getting use to the tools and ways of working. 

You need a strong project manager or process owner to stand up to the business and keep the scope manageable and small and break delivery up into leaner more manageable chunks.