ProcessCafe blog: Five Simple Questions, No Easy Answers

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ProcessCafe blog -- Five Simple Questions, No Easy Answers - The process version
Once again I defer to Amber Naslund over at the Altitude branding blog for her excellent post entitled Five Simple Questions, No Easy Answers.

It prompted me to see if there are similar questions that could arise in the process world

1. If you could change something about the way process management is tackled as it is right now, what would that be? Why would that improve things?

2. Give me a definition of 'process management' for a newbie, and you can’t use the words “BPM”, “Software as a service”, "process" or “tool”.

3. I’m a successful company, and I’m not yet looking at managing my processes or defining a process management capability. Why should it matter to me if what I’m doing isn’t broken?

4. Tell me the real challenges I’ll encounter as a business when I’m starting managing my processes. Now tell me why I should bother overcoming those when I have enough issues to deal with already - especially in this current economic environment.

5. Take 'process management' out of the sandbox. Tell me how else it moves business forward, operationally, culturally, otherwise, and how I can justify the cost of doing this.

What other questions are bugging you? (I have one more)

6. If people keep talking about BPM as something that is tool based, does it mean that I can't do this without spending money on equipping my organisation with these tools?

1. There are two major enablers for carrying out the optimisation of the enterprise as a whole:
a) tools and pertinent information to help people in better decision making, and
b) a guarantee that the enterprise is capable of implementing the necessary changes at the required pace.

2. BPM discipline allows you to model, automate, execute, control, measure and optimise the flow of business activities that span the enterprise’s systems, employees, customers and partners within and beyond the enterprise boundaries

3. There are two ways people use their cars – change each 3 years or use them up to complete break then buy a new one. Check what is the way of the majority of Management Board and follow their arguments.

4. Architecture. Thanks to the current economic environment even the G20 understood that a complex arrangement should start with its architecture.

5. Done correctly, BPM will add unprecedented flexibility and will become an enabler for your business innovations.

6. There are BPM discipline, enterprise BPM system (portfolio of the business processes as well as the practices and tools for governing the design, execution and evolution of this portfolio) and BPM suite (coherent set of software tools for facilitating the implementation of a BPM system). You may implement your enterprise BPM system without a BPM suite, but the latter can simplify such an implementation.



Linkedin: What 'peri-operative checklists' could and should we use in EA/BA?

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Research by World Health Organization ("New England Journal of Medicine" 2009 Jan 14, doi:10.1056/NEJMsa0810119 ) shows that use of a simple 19-point peri-operative checklist - checks immediately prior to and during surgical operations - reduced complications by one-third (from 11% to 7%) and deaths by 40% (1.5% to 0.7%). The results, from a large statistical base (c.7500 cases) were much the same in rich and poor countries. The English-language version of the checklist is at www.who.int/patientsafety/safesurgery/en . What equivalent 'peri-operative' checklists could we develop for enterprise-architecture and business-architecture? What results could we achieve with such checklists? And how would we verify their value? (Discussion posted to both The Enterprise Architecture Network group and Business Architecture Community group.)


My client has a checklist for the technical architecture -- each IT project should present such a list before the technical evaluation (which is before the financial evaluation of the project). The main reason is to prevent surprises in deployment and maintenance (e.g. high disponibility requires a special configuration of Oracle). Typical topics are:
• Architecture générale
• Support et maintenance
• Exploitation
• Architecture poste de travail
• Middleware
• Architecture base de données
• Services business intelligence
• Services éditiques
• Services Génie Logiciel
• Services gestion documentaire
• Services sécurité
• Métier
• Interopérabilité
• Réseau

As there are some dependencies between items of this checklist, we provide a simple configurator which uses many (business and technical) questions and some rules to derive the actual checklist.



Linkedin: Designing a business to be 'flexible' - what does that mean and how would one go about it?

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Designing a business to be 'flexible' - what does that mean and how would one go about it?
I started a discussion a few days ago about the 3 P's of a professional organization. There were many thoughtful responses and I have enjoyed hearing from everyone. Nice group of people. Several of the responses referred to the idea of having a flexible company or needing to be able to quickly adapt. I am old enough to know that when people use words they may mean something very different than what I am thinking. So my question to you is What does it mean to be a flexible comany? What does that look like? I need tangibles, not ethereal explanations. I would like responses to tell me exactly what I would need to do if I were CEO of a company to have it be flexible, capable of adapting to unexpected events. Looking forward to hearing from you. www.stankirkwood.com


I will talk about flexibility of the enterprise BPM systems as an architect (this is from the book "Improving enterprise BPM systems" www.improving-BPM-systems.com).

It is considered that each process-centric enterprise has its own BPM system -- a portfolio of business processes of the enterprise, as well as the practices and tools for governing the design, execution and evolution of this portfolio as a system.

Our experience shows that the business usually wants separate requests for change in the IT environment to be implemented quickly. These changes are typically small (from the point of view of the business staff) but unpredictable (from the point of view of IT staff). The current practices of software development have failed to provide a good solution to this challenge.
• “80 % of software life cycle costs occur during the maintenance phase”, and
• “80 % of maintenance is due to unmet or unforeseen user requirements”.

Actually, any BPM system is a complex and dynamic set of interconnected and interdependent business artefacts: events, processes, rules, roles, objects, services, etc. The evolution of some artefacts and the relationships between them is necessary to accommodate typical changes in policies, priorities, compliance, technology, laws, etc. So, to be agile and responsive in business, it must be easy to modify all artefacts and their relationships without causing any negative effects (e.g. unexpected delays and undesired consequences) in any part of the BPM system.

A characteristic of BPM systems is the high level of non-trivial linkage between different artefacts. This requires a focus not only on individual artefacts (breaking a system into constituent parts), but also on how these artefacts are interlinked between themselves and with the external environment. The importance of relationships is based on the approach (based on systems thinking) that the individual parts of a system can be best understood by looking at them in the context of their relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation. An example of a complex relationship is a process template which is an aggregation of events, human and automated activities, roles, objects, rules, audits, etc.

Because a particular improvement (created as a set of modifications) may be spread between different parts, different processes, different stakeholders and different technologies, to achieve transparency and a general comprehension, it is necessary to have a coherent set of guiding principles which are mandatory for all parts of the enterprise business system. These are architectural principles from a architecture framework for improving enterprise BPM systems.
• All artefacts must be versionable throughout their lifecycle
• All artefacts must evolve to become digital, externalised and virtual
• All relationships between artefacts must be modelled explicitly
• All models must be made to be executable

The architectural framework is not about how to make your products better, different and more attractive for the market place – this is for the top managers to decide. What it offers is to help enterprises reduce the overheads in doing so. The reduction will come from continual improvements in the BPM system itself – each new project will be carried out under the same architecting and implementation guidelines and practical help, thus aligning people’s understanding and different practices, tools, methods, processes and services. At one moment, your flexible BPM system will become an enabler for your business innovations.



Linkedin: What do you (your company or clients) use Enterprise Architecture for?

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What do you (your company or clients) use Enterprise Architecture for? Think of Enterprise Architecture in action (from experience), how it is used and for what.
I know it sounds like a strange question, but I want you to think - what is EA really used for... to understand the enterprise form all perspectives? to use as a tool to explore and discover opportunities for change? to facilitate change?...or to guide change? (there is a difference between these two) to define transformation? to empower project/program contributors and stakeholders? to manage projects? to facilitate managerial decision making? to manage growth? to facilitate strategic decision making? to enable cross-functional/domain integration? to present how IT domains relate to each other? to drive IT strategy? etc.....I'm sure there are lots more uses, especially beyond an IT centric approach Not looking for explanations of, or references to TOGAF, Zachman etc. Please make this practical...for what (and how) is Enterprise Architecture used in your experience?


A client just created a EA unit which provides the following services:

1. Validate a solution's architecture at different stages of the project
- EA unit requires use of approved architectural components for the technical part of a solution
- EA unit recommends a few prototyping environments (one of them is base on the BPM discipline and a BPM suite) for the business part of a solution

2. Guarantee coherence of architectural components

3. Optimisation of architectures for future needs (e.g. having solutions more adaptable)

4. Internal consulting

We recommended this client the following:

Definition: The EA unit is a group of like-thinking minds responsible for proactive evolution of the architecture of the enterprise.

Mission statement: The mission of the EA unit is to provide guidance and practical help for the design and evolution of IT and business to achieve the enterprise vision and strategy.

Objectives: The EA unit (together with a forum of architects) develops and maintains a comprehensive set of recommendations, models, patterns, examples, tools and training materials.