The Gartner View

The Gartner Group are the owners and developers of the Magic Quadrant principle (basically mapping of a companies ability to execute against it's completeness of vision) Magic quadrants are available for many market sectors and software's.

My primary interest is in the BPA software

Here is a link to the BPA Magic Quadrant for 2nd Half 2007/ 1st half 2008

I was particularly tickled to read the section entitled 'Three Categories of BPA Tool Buyer Focus' There is an important part of that section that talks about Microsoft Visio and it's use in BPA. Basically Gartner are re-iterating the point I made in earlier posts that Visio is a great drawing tool, but if you want something more robust you'll need a modelling tool.

One key thing to notice: Proforma as a vendor is still appearing in this model as the information was collated as at June 2007. Metastorm took over Proforma in August 2007 so i would expect to see that change reflected in the next edition of this Magic Quadrant

Process Maturity: Is Gartner wrong?

Nick Malik on the Inside Architecture blog posts a musing on the nature of Process Maturity. His contention is that the Gartner Maturity model is predicated on the fact that you need to measure where you are in order to get from one level to the next. "This makes sense", you think.

But Nick is saying "What's the business driver to measure processes capability when the reason we're doing this is to improve our business?" Surely a company should focus on improving how they do things rather than focusing on measuring how good they are at managing processes? Once they start to get improvement in their business process they should start to look at how well they are managing their processes. This will then lead them onto the next maturity level etc. etc. etc.

Good contention, Nick. I'm with you for a large part of the way. I think where the argument falls down is in the details. Sure, I can give Visio ("The Devils Tool") to a bunch of users and get them looking at how they do things with a view to making them better, but in the long term is this the best way to build a process management capability?

In my mind the Maturity Model is linked in with the level of sophistication a business has in the capability of process modeling. If I give the wrong tools to the wrong users who use the wrong methodologies then my processes aren't going to get much better. This is where a maturity model comes in.

Having said that I am 100% behind Nick when he says "The only thing more dangerous than measuring nothing: measuring the wrong thing" I wholeheartedly agree and refer you to Comerford's Three Laws of Metrics as examples.

Back in the days when I ran a European business process shop for a US Multinational, they seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to benchmark themselves against other folks. This used a great deal of the Maturity Model concept. But like Nick says it missed the fundamental point of 'Are we actually doing any process modeling that is adding value to the business?' At that point the answer was 'probably not'. I'm not sure where that organisation is now, but I suspect they are still as concerned about knowing where they fit against competitors than how well their processes actually work.

An interesting read. Well worth a few moments of your time.

(Photo courtesy Bettyspics)

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The Business Process Blog

When I started this Business Process Blog earlier this year the intention was to write about Business Process work. Putting a blog together would be a way of crystallizing my thoughts and presenting them to the mass populace (or those who cared to sit and read it, anyway)

As part of this I have news feeds which I read (and some of which I link into this page at the right hand side), but it sees to me that the actual news about Business Process that I can blog about is getting less and less.

A large proportion of the items that come through on the news feeds relate to new products or new companies moving into this lucrative and expanding area. A lot of them are niche players (as defined by Gartner's "Magic Quadrant"), but some of them are pretty major (the takeover of Provision by Metastorm last year, for example, effectively positions it to be one of the more complete and major players in the market).

Further more a lot of the other (excellent) blogs that are out there in this area discuss topics that have arisen through the authors attendance at conferences and seminars. Most of these are US based and a lot of them are expensive to visit - certainly out of my price bracket despite the income I get from this blog.

But that's not what I'm looking to blog about. I want to get down to the nitty gritty. I want to talk about problems and issue with Business Process work. I want to discover new ways of doing traditional things.

As a result you may find some changes with this blog. I will be looking at a redesign in the near future - mainly to get the look and feel a little closer to what I want it to be. But also to make sure I am focusing on the things I think you want me to write about.

So if you're looking at this blog for the first time (or if you've subscribed through my RSS feed and have never actually been back here since then), let me know the kind of things you would like to see on here.

I appreciate the feedback!

(Photo Courtesy of Iain Farrell)

When is a BPM suite not a BPM suite...?

IBM has recently announced the release of it's "IBM BPM Suite" (catchy name eh?). It basically consists of various applications from across it's product range (Websphere, Filenet, Process Manager, Rational Asset manager, etc.) bundled together to produce a 'suite'.

But hang on, isn't a suite of programs supposed to be integrated and seamless? Do we really think that having both WebSphere and FileNet (with some Rational and Lotus, as well) and a choice of two foundational 'Starter Sets' make it easier for folks to get started with BPM? I don't think so.

That's right, apparently IBM is selling two starter sets of applications: One of those starter sets is WebSphere Modeler, Monitor,
and Fabric (which includes parts of WID and Process Server). The other is FileNet (confused yet?).

Of course the problem is that IBM has several brands (IBM, Lotus, Rational) which all have some sort of overlapping or similar tools, and making them work together is what's causing the issue.

To my inexperienced and untrained eye this looks a little bit like a train wreck waiting to happen.

I'd love to be proved wrong on this though!

For more on this check out Bruce Silver's review at his BPMS watch

The Value of Process Driven Architecture

Being a process person and an ex-enterprise architect (Check out my Linked-In CV for more details), I was very interested to read Aristo Togliatti's article on the Value of Process Driven Architecture.

Aristo is referring to the intersection of process management and SOA where the architecture around understanding and governing processes must be robust enough to physically drive the change rather than being passive. It's the difference between documenting what the process is and using the process to drive change.

I've blogged about this in the past when discussing the linkage between documenting processes and managing processes and this article summarises it very succinctly.

I am also very pleased to see mention of the need to have appropriate governance in the form of a process owner, something else I have been extolling in this blog.

Take 5 minutes to read this if you have time. It's well worth it

Metastorm release V6.1

As a long time Metastorm software user (back in the days when it was still Provision) I have followed the development of the tool with interest.

Metastorm have recently announced the release of the latest version 6.1 of the Metastorm Provision suite. One of the keys to this particular release is a tighter integration between the different parts of the old Metastorm BPM tool and the new Provision software. Previously the two sets of software were separate and used non-connected databases necessitating the usage of a connector created by Metastorm and Provision partner iOctane from Australia. Metastorm has defined it's strategy which calls for complete integration between the two systems, and indeed in discussions I held with Metastorm in the UK last year they reinforced this quite strongly. Timelines were not given although it was stated that it was 'urgent' and 'a high priority' for the company. Release 6.1 seems to be laying the foundation for that integration.

As Metastorm themselves say:
To more effectively align strategy with execution, Metastorm is moving its independent EA, BPA, and BPM applications to a common platform – Metastorm Enterprise – that will include shared services and a common meta-model for enhanced visibility and better understanding of the impact of decisions at all levels. As part of the Metastorm Enterprise platform development, Metastorm ProVision 6.1 includes enhancements that allow it to better interoperate with Metastorm BPM® and to scale to the needs of large enterprise architecture demands.

The impact of this at the current release is negligible, but this lays the foundations for more integration with - amongst others - the BPM suite of tools being able to access the Provision simulation functionality in the next release.