Twitter: @swensonkeith

I have been on a 30+ year journey to try and find the keys to technology that will help people collaborate more effectively.  From the time that “Local Area Networks” were invented, the promise of making an environment which could facilitate co-worker communication was evident, but it has been a long time coming.

1980’s: I participated in development of “Integrated Office Productivity Software” which was a market trend at the time to bring word processing, spreadsheets, database, etc together into a single package.  At Software Products International we made a multi-user database, a multi-user spreadsheet, and even experimented with a multi-user word processor.  At Ashton Tate, I worked on the Framework product which was the first to have email capability built into it, so sending documents, and even parts of documents, around to others was easy.  We experimented there with automatically generated mailing lists, and collaborative working groups.

Early 1990’s: I started a “Groupware Team” at Fujitsu to make a product to allow for “Collaborative Planning”.  The idea was this: you have a large team of people who need to accomplish a project.  Different people are experts in different parts and different levels of the project.  A manager or director may be able to identify the major steps that project has to go through, and how the work is divided up among sub-teams.  Then each sub-team would extend the plan with their standard practices for their part of the work.  Finally, each team member would extend the plan in ways that their experience has taught them.  It is not just that everyone is doing what is optimized for them, but that everyone else on the team has visibility into what they are doing.  Thus when the VP wants to know the current status, they can see the overall status, and drill down to the current details.   It was evident to me that in a typical job an individual will be doing thing that are similar to what they had done before, they will want to reuse the process fragment that they had used last time, and possibly modify it slightly to fit the current situation.  To do this, we need portable process fragments, and we need a graphical notation that non-programmers can use to describe the process fragments.  Beyond planning, and showing status, this technology can also let people know when something is now ready to be worked on, so that is how “Regatta Technology” and  “TeamWARE Flow” came into existence.

Late 1990’s: I joined Netscape to develop tools that could leverage the web to do collaborative planning.  I was Architect for “Visual JavaScript” and later “Process Manager” a workflow product which was difficult for a company like Netscape to sell & support.   I did however make the first public proposal for a “web Service” in the form of “Simple Workflow Access Protocol” to the IETF in 1998.   I moved to MS2 which was a start-up for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).  There I pioneered a flexible form of collaborative planning: processes that looked mostly like “to-do lists” and where the user was empowered to do an innovative type of process modification: they could “skip” steps if they chose to.

2000’s: After the dot.com bust I came back to Fujitsu where i-Flow and Interstage BPM had been built upon the earlier design of TeamWARE Flow.  This took the original collaborative planning ideas, and updated it for stronger integration to web services and REST integration.  Because portable process fragments is still a key, I have spent a lot of time in recent years helping with the development of XPDL, Wf-XML, and most recently BPAF and Workcast.  I agreed to chair the WfMC Technical Committee.  The standards are secondary to the real goal: Global Collaborative Planning.  The standards have to be in place to that all the pieces can talk to each other, without exclusion caused by proprietary implementations.  Business Process Management came and matured, including my launching “Cloud BPM” in 2009, but we found that coordination from outside was not ideal for knowledge workers.  Still there is a need for self-realized coordination.

2010 – to the future: There is still a huge potential for “Global Collaborative Planning“.  My original goal of increasing the effectiveness of workers in the office, and now moved to increasing the effectiveness of workers wherever they are, and however they are connected to the cloud.  At the heart of all this is quite simple a way to communicate to each other about our tasks, plans, and processes.  Think “Enterprise 2.0” and “Social Software” but going beyond capturing the now and history.  Such systems can be integrated with “planning” in order to represent the future.  When we succeed in this, and I have no doubt that we will succeed, then much of the drudgery of getting things done will be taken care of, and we as humans will be able to focus on new ideas for creating new things more effectively that we have ever done before.

Short Bio

Keith Swenson has been Vice President of Research and Development at Fujitsu North America and the Chairman of the Workflow Management Coalition.  As a speaker, author, and contributor to many workflow and BPM standards, he is known for having been a pioneer in collaboration software and web services.  He has led agile software development teams at MS2, Netscape, Ashton Tate & Fujitsu. He won the 2004 Marvin L. Manheim Award for outstanding contributions in the field of workflow.  Co-author on more than 10 books.  His latest book, “When Thinking Matters in the Workplace,” explains how to avoid stifling creativity and enhance innovation through the appropriate use of process technology.  His 2010 book “Mastering the Unpredictable” introduced and defined the field of adaptive case management and established him as a Top Influencer in the field of case management.  He blogs at https://social-biz.org/.

Longer Bio

Keith SwensonKeith Swenson has been Vice President of Research and Development at Fujitsu America Inc. involved in the Interstage family of enterprise middleware products. He is known for having been a pioneer in collaboration software and web services, and has helped the development of many workflow and BPM standards. He is currently the Chairman of the Workflow Management Coalition. In the past, he led development of collaboration software MS2, Netscape, Ashton Tate and Fujitsu. In 2004 he was awarded the Marvin L. Manheim Award for outstanding contributions in the field of workflow.  His blog is at https://social-biz.org/.

Mr. Swenson began his tenure at Fujitsu in 1991 where he developed TeamWARE Flow. He returned to Fujitsu Software Corporation in 2002 to direct the development of the Interstage family of products.

A pioneer in web services, Mr. Swenson has helped the development of standards such as WfMC Interface 2, OMG Workflow Interface, SWAP, Wf-XML, AWSP and WSCI. He is currently working on standards such as WS-CAF and ASAP.

MS2: Prior to returning to Fujitsu Software Corporation, Mr. Swenson was Director of Engineering at MS2, Inc., where he was responsible for developing Accelerate, a distributed enterprise scaled system.

Netscape: Mr. Swenson was Software Architect at Netscape for the internet workflow product “Process Manager” and the developer tool “Visual JavaScript” which helped developers create live JAvaScript applications using a technique known today as “AJAX”.
Fujitsu (first time): he started the Regatta Project, which produced the software products “TeamWARE Flow” and “iFlow”.

Ashton Tate: he managed the development of Framework IV, an integrated business productivity product, and before that he was in various software development leader positions at an early PC startup called “Software Products International” based in San Diego which produced the product Open Access.

Mr. Swenson holds both a Master’s degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of California, San Diego.

From 1995 to 1997 he served as Vice Chairman of the ACM Special Interest Group for Group Support Systems (SigGROUP). In 1996, he was elected a Fellow of the Workflow Management Coalition.  In 2004 he was awarded the Marvin L. Manheim Award for outstanding contributions in the field of workflow.  In 2012 he was recognized as a “Top Influencer” in the field of Case Management.


Bio Links

2005: International Developer Interview

2004 @ XML Journal

2001 @ Brain Storm eBusiness Integration Conference

ACM: Publication List

25 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Marco Mendes´s Blog » BPM Não é Engenharia de Software. BPM é sobre Pessoas e Processos de Negócio!

  2. May I kindly ask what happened to the WfXML-R effort? I stumbled across a lot resources that carry your signature, but most of them seem to be dead or outdated. Are you still working on that?

  3. Excellent blog and wow, how much do I still have to learn about SOA and BPM! Thanks for sharing so much, Keith, I’m going to be a regular reader here if you don’t mind.

    I happened on your blog by chance when WordPress linked one of my posts with yours here (on business vs software), but what’s important is that I realized that you work for Fujitsu and that you once worked for Netscape, two companies I spent a lot of time working in too, so there’s still hope for me.

    More importantly I wanted to ask if you would like to join some x-ICL’s and a whole lot of current Fujitsu folks in the ICL Reconnect Group on LinkedIn. It would be an honor to meet with you there too.

    Best regards,

    Johan de Lange

  4. Hello,
    I’m wondering if you can help me in finding some reference material. I’m looking for a documented/published methodology for testing requirements in software development projects. I’m familiar with Agile, XP, RBT, RUP, Waterfall, and Spiral development and test methodologies, but am having a hard time finding published material that addresses the test process for ensuring that the requirements gathered are the requirements needed. Many of my metadata searches have yielded BPM results rather than test methodology results. Which is how I stumbled across your blog – which I absolutely LOVE! Thank you for publishing.

    Any insights you can provide in finding a published methodology for testing requirement sets prior to/in the static phase of the software project that you can offer are greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

    Best Regards,
    Rochelle Mulhern

    • Rochelle,

      My answer is going to seem like a cop-out. Seems to me the whole point of an Agile approach is to avoid having to do this. If you dev cycle is fast enough, then the only thing you have to worry about is whether the customer is happy. Happy customer == you got the right requirements. Thus you focus exclusively on the customer, and on keeping the development team working full speed, and intelligently managed communications should take you in the right direction.

      If your cycle is very long, such as waterfall approach, then I can see the need for such a test to check that requirements are complete. I don’t know of any method for doing this, which is one of the big reasons that I find the agile approach superior.

      Related to this will be the “Minimum Marketable Features” (MMF) discussion in the Kanban group. This idea is that you are producing product features are a steady rate, how do you determine when you have “enough” to make it worth making an external release for customers.

      Hope that is helpful. Thanks for the compliment. -Keith

  5. Thanks, Keith.

    I like the MMF discusssion, but unfortunately we are developing software for multiple medical device platforms and the corporate culture is that it’s a catch all and yep, you’ve guessed it, we’re using a “spiral” methodology but really it’s a waterfall/RUP development lifecycle. Truly we would eliminate 30-40% of the coded defects if we had a requirements test process in the discovery phase. IF I could convince our teams to switch to an Agile approach, I would, but that would require the buy in from no less than 5 device development teams and 10 software development teams and as many customer groups. Unfortunately, I think I’m fighting an uphill battle as I am not part of the management team.

    Thanks for your feedback! I’ll see what else I can find.
    ~ Rochelle

  6. Thank you Mr. Swenson providing a lot of cooperative planning information.

    I happen to come to this site and I am very pleased to find cooperative planning information. I am also developing cooperative planning tool named ChainOfAsker.

    “Chain of Asker ” come from the our Act of Asking. Here Asking means when we try to do something which we can not handle alone, we divide the job into the portion of which we handle by our self and the portion to ask someone.

    This means that we are doing one step of work breakdown when we try to ask something. And the same things will happen in the person who accept some part of the job.

    Like this way, asking will create a chain of asking and reproduction of asking will continue until the entire job is broken down into small tasks and accepted by final task executor.

    ChainOfAsker use this chained asking procedure to develop entire project structure and calculate schedule. So we can develop whole project structure by simply asking what we want and can monitor of its progress by automatically generated Gantt chart. Now I am providing this app at http://www.chainofasker.com/. So if you are interested in this approach, please visit.

    By the way, I also watched http://jp.fujitsu.com/ site to see the software which is supporting cooperative planning, but I could not find. Is the system is just for experimental version?

  7. Pingback: Назад в будущее « Максим Смирнов

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  9. Dear Keith D. Swenson,

    I am sorry, as I could not find your direct email, I have to write it here. I am a BPM Manager in Elisa Estonia. Elisa is a telecommunication company and part of Elisa Corporation which is in Finland. Elisa is a member of Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL). ITL´s primary objective is to unite the Estonian ITC companies, to promote their co-operation in Estonia´s development. Hence ITL would like to organize Social BPM training FOR their members (ITC companies).

    At the moment I am the one who makes suggestions to ITL about 2011 BPM training. There are around 60 ITC companies in ITL and every company could name people from their organizations to trainings. I estimate there will be around 50 participants from different ITL member organizations.

    We just had Roger Burlton´s Enterprise Level BPM 2- days training and are now looking for training in Social BPM. I assume the target group will be CIOs, CTOs, BPM managers, process owners, analysts etc.

    Would you be interested in providing this kind of training and coming to Estonia:)?

    With best wishes,
    (personal details removed)

  10. Love your work and see it as vitally important to where the future of work in the developed world has to go if it is to compete with the BRIC economies. Absolutely love your vision of “Global Collaborative Planning”. Looking forward to reading your book.

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  12. Pingback: Social Business Forum, June 8th, Milan | Pretzel Logic - Social and Collaborative Business

    • Hi Keith your points are well taken. At Active Endpoints, we’re rellay thinking about getting a BPM mentality to be pervasive among all different types of business owners (whether they own a process, a LOB, or a department). These people certainly need an adaptive approach, but they also need tools that will allow them to implement what they need in a fast, efficient way.

    • Yes, I think these budding siscusdions are really starting to crystalize the differences between the approaches. More than BPM being at odds with Adaptive Case Management (ACM or what ever it will end up being called) -BPM thinking is certain at odds with ACM.

  13. Hello Mr. Swenson,
    im a student and currently working with the topic ACM. I was wondering, because BPM and BPM-Systems are that successful, to integrate ACM in BPM. Maybe there have to be different approaches, like:
    – Total ACM (The whole case is done in the ACM-Way)
    – Embedded ACM (The Prozess is BPM and there are well defined parts in ACM embedded)
    – Form-based ACM (Light ACM in a form. A knowledge worker defines the informationen in a form and maps it to the process)
    What do you think about that?
    Best wishes,

  14. Pingback: Adaptive Case Management: the road ahead? | Hamid Motahari

  15. Pingback: Video Recording of Panel Discussion ‘New Tools for Knowledge Workers’ — Flux Capacitor

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  17. Hello Keith,

    I hope that you are well.

    Just wondered please if you might take a look at my latest novel, now available on Amazon in both electronic format but also in paperback.


    ITALY April 1945

    Special Operations Executive have decided to send in their most successful agent, in order to secure the arrest of Il Duce.
    Mussolini is a wanted man.
    S.O.E. want him to stand trial for crimes against humanity… but there are many others, who have a different agenda.

    It’s a captivating story. Only a handful of people know the actual truth, and numerous individuals claim to have delivered the final blow.

    Please if you will… grab a copy.

    It’s free to download an electronic copy from Amazon tomorrow, on Monday, 21st, February, 2022.

    Thank you so much for your time.
    Kind Regards

    PS.- If you would like like any other information about this or any of my other books, then please just drop me a line.

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