Process Improvement: Informed & Lean

I could call this post “Removing the Risk from Lean Process Improvement” because it starts with the assumption that you want to improve your processes using Lean principles, but you want guidance on how to apply those principles most effectively.

Soooo much discussion of Lean last week at the Forrester Forum and the Gartner BPM Summit.  Who can argue against Lean?  It is after all a focus on providing more value with less waste.  Lean is a focus on eliminating waste, the original sevens wastes identified by Toyota, as well as elimination of anything that does not provide value to the customer.  We all want to get rid of waste and inefficiency.

How do you identify the waste in your business process? This is harder than you might think.  Continue reading

What is Case Management?

So much discussion recently about Case Management, but do we really know what we mean?  Let me collect here some definitions, and then offer my own.  (You will find many of these ideas expanded in full in “When Thinking Matters in the Workplace“)

The Case Management Society of America, a health care oriented professional group, defines case management as: Continue reading

Process Discovery & Mass Personalization

At dinner with Forrester analyst Clay Richardson he mentioned that process support should be less like mass transit trains and buses, and more like a Zipcar.   Both approaches can be seen as a way to solve metropolitan transportation problems; both are more efficient in energey use; both save the consumer money over owning and maintaining (including parking) a private vehicle.  This fits well with ideas I have been trying to communicate Continue reading

XPDL Fully Tipped

In March 2007 I wrote an entry called “The Tipping Point for XPDL” where I mentioned among other things that 8 of the top 11 BPM vendors support XPDL. Since that time XPDL has moved forward by adding support for BPMN 1.2 as well as compatibilities levels and conformance tests.

The vendors have moved forward as well. At the time I listed Adobe, Appian, Oracle (BEA/Fuego), Fujitsu, Global 360, IBM (FileNet), Pegasystems, & TIBCO as supporting XPDL. I was not aware at the time that Savvion had XPDL support. Metastorm added XPDL support in April 2008. And now Lombardi has released support for XPDL (see Bruce Silver). That completes the list. Continue reading

Large-Scale Federated Processes

A presentation that I gave at the Stevens BPM day covered the subject of Large Scale Federated Processes. What is a federated process?

It is a distributed process that spans many servers. Distributed process support might be designed and implemented in a very centralized way: for example a single process application with parts of the application deployed to different machines. This allows the process to be much larger that it might be if limited to a single server, but that really is not the point of federation.

A federated process is a distributed process where the different parts of the process are controlled by different people. Continue reading

Model Strategy Slidecast

I gave a presentation on the Model Preserving Strategy / Model Transforming Strategy comparison at the conference in Washing DC on Jun 19.  I have put the slides on SlideShare and for the first time I figured out how to attach an audio track to make it a “SlideCast“.  An experiment at this point, but it seems easier than video.  Let me know if you think this works well or not.

Good advice to avoid process micromanagement from Anatoly Belychook with his post on a Process Anti-pattern: One Man Show.   A process should include things are relevant to the group, and avoid all things that are not.

Don’t miss next week’s Virtual BPM Tech Show on July 7 thru 9.  It is a good way to get some real details on how different products work — all from your regular desk chair.  (While you are there, be sure to ask whether the products take a Model Preserving Strategy or not.  🙂

Rise of the Process Wiki

A few weeks ago I became aware of Process Wiki  ( when the founder of the wiki left a comment on one of my blog posts.  I was curious.  Without surprise, the wiki site contains a good collection of example business processes.  You can join to be a member, and collaborate either by contributing more process examples, or by commenting on the existing ones.   Processes can be uploaded & downloaded as XPDL files, and the site has a converter to visualize the processes as BPMN diagrams.  Most sites have GIF files embedded in the page, but this is the first I have seen that you simply upload the XPDL file and it provides the visualization directly in the page. Continue reading

The 80% Solution

In a panel session this week at the eBizQ virtual conference (see here and here) I was asked “What common mistake do people make that causes unnecessary delay in BPM projects?”  The answer: Many projects have a goal to implement too much at once.  Some projects attempt to turn a manual process into a completely automated “straight-through” processes where there is no human interaction at all. Continue reading

Process Language, Agility, and Fitness

When designing a business process, you need to design for change, because business is always changing and agility depends upon the ability to change.  Once you understand that change is a constant part of business, you know that the business process you design today is not going to remain static.

If you are going to design for change, it is important to pick the right language.  If you pick the wrong language, then change will be very difficult.  We say that a language is a good language Continue reading