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  • The Microguide to Process Modeling in BPMN 2.0: How to Build Great Process, Rule, and Event Models
    The Microguide to Process Modeling in BPMN 2.0: How to Build Great Process, Rule, and Event Models
  • Business Process Management with a Business Rules Approach: Implementing The Service Oriented Architecture
    Business Process Management with a Business Rules Approach: Implementing The Service Oriented Architecture
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Friday
May252012

Bosch Software Innovations Webinar Series

Bosch Software Innovations has made many changes over the past several years, plus our technology  provides platforms for many new Bosch products and services. If you would like to hear more about Bosch’s ‘Connected World’, we are holding a BPM and BRM webinar series. At these webinars, you can learn from Bosch’s technical experts with in-depth industry knowledge, best practices and relevant solutions.

During the first webinar “Comprehensive Round-Trip BPM and BRM System at Best-in-Class TCO”, we will describe the Bosch approach and thinking about the benefits of using BRM and BPM. There will be a live product demonstration of inubit and Visual Rules. The webinar will cover these topics:

  • The integration of a inubit process and the Visual Rules engine
  • How our customers manage their projects on an enterprise level using
  • Our BPM and BRM methodology

 In order to register, please visit Bosch’s website: here

Friday
May182012

On Bosch’s Connected World and the Internet of Things and Services

On Tuesday, May 22, at 13:30(est) I gave an interview on the Peggy Smedley Show. Peggy’s show is the leading radio voice on the topic of the connected world and she has conducted interviews with many notable industry leaders.

The interview is available here.

By way of introduction, I want to describe Bosch’s relationship with the Connected World or what we call the Internet of Things and Services (IoTS).

Whatever label you choose to describe this, there are certainly many amazing new products and services arising from this architecture built on our pervasive wireless network - especially Verizon’s LTE. These IoTS ‘things’ include edge and hub products that are designed, built and offered by Bosch. The pervasive, sensor-driven, networked environment has arisen from the phenomena I call ‘Moore’s law everywhere’. This includes:

  • Ubiquitous, low cost (<$3) microprocessors and radios often found in innocuous products and devices, (some, such as light fixtures and ordinary appliances are unexpected)
  • Accelerating deployment of wireless bandwidth especially LTE
  • Big Data

Again, this environment is spawning new products and new business models, many led by Bosch business units in the areas of security technology, telemedicine, renewable energy, and consumer products. Some business sectors, such as manufacturing and security, are leveraging the situational awareness potential. Other business sectors, including telemedicine, are using the efficiency and asset savings characteristics.

Since 2008, when Bosch acquired Innovations Software, we have been methodically creating IoTS solutions through a framework called the Internet Application Platform (IAP). At the core of the IAP is the robust, industry leading BPM platform inubit and the Visual Rules BRMS.  Bosch has great depth and experience in developing solutions for the IoTS and our IAP has already solved complex IoTS challenges. Now with these developments, we are moving into the era of what Forrester calls the Big Process and activities, information and decisions will be pushed to the “edge” - as close as possible to the customer and trading partner.

Yet, the IoTS is more than an interesting technological development or architecture. At the core, it is a set of solutions that are driven by global political, economic and social forces. A core value for Bosch is supporting the long-term viability of the communities we serve and we see the IoTS as a critical, global development for creating a more sustainable world. In many ways, IoTS solutions, via the Bosch Connected World, support the sustainability movement within business and government. The Bosch Connected World solutions span the important vertical domains of security, energy, environment, risk and finance. Briefly, here are the critical market drivers for these solutions:

  • Financial Strains: business and government investments in new infrastructure is limited and often there is inadequate maintenance and poor operations
  • Eroding Infrastructure: especially in the US there is an over-stressed electrical grid
  • Increasing security needs: in the US there is zero tolerance for acts of terror, this yields more complexity, more need for autonomous intelligent decisions, more situational awareness
  • Risk Management: there is an accelerated need to measure and control financial risk
  • Consumer Expectations: there is an emphasis on comfort, safety and security
  • Aging Demographics: this is not only true in the US but also Europe,  increasing health care needs within declining budgets

The bottom-line: the mandate is not only ‘do more with less’ it is ‘do much more with even less’. Surprisingly, despite being internet-based, the autonomous local controls are critical.

The Bosch Connected World IoTS solutions support the sustainability objectives of business and government. Connected World solutions span these domains:

  • Security, physical and information
  • Energy Solutions, including new building energy systems, grid solutions and renewable energy
  • Environment, water and air
  • Risk Management
  • Finance Controls and Integration

Conclusion

We have learned many unexpected lessons in developing solutions for the IoTS and we are constantly adding new depth and experience. We will be providing details on this in the coming weeks.

Friday
Mar232012

A BPMN Pattern that Avoids Complex Merges

Arun Pareek In a blog post (here), described a solution to a process problem where three parallel tasks are executing. When one of the tasks completes with a particular condition, he uses a complex gateway merge to halt the execution of the other tasks. He called this ‘dead path’ cleanup. The original paper on dead-path elimination is here.

For you convenience, I will show Arun’s bpmn use case here:

 

The use case is for a security check that verifies Citizenship, Credit and Criminal checks. The topic of the dead path was the termination of one of the tasks Citizenship or Credit, when the criminal check had passed and one of the two activities, in pink, had completed.

In the Microguide to Process Modeling in BPMN, Rick and I do not support the use of the complex merge shape because they are confusing, and hide the logic that we are trying to build with our process modeling. All the logic from a complex merge shape can be defined in a subprocess. This example is a perfect demonstration of this. The fact that the ‘criminal background check’ result will cancel the citizenship and credit is hidden in Arun’s solution. Also hidden in the solution is the fact that the 'dead-path' elimination is an Oracle specific extension.

The recommended solution, with thanks for the help to Gilles Rabaud and Thomas Allweyer, shown here in an inubit (link) process modeler:

 

 

This BPMN:

  • Places the criminal check in a subprocess and the other activities in an enclosing subprocess
  • Starts these in parallel
  • Raises an exception to the border of the outer subprocess if there is a failure in the criminal check
  • For the credit and citizen check, the first activity to return a valid check escallates the inner subproces

 

 escallation and errors manage the threads in the same manner. The BPMN 2.0 spec explicitly provides for thread termination with the error event plus (conditionally) the escalation event.  

In my original post on this topic, several reviewers noted that I did not cover the exact use case described by Arun's post. The point of the complex merge was to cover the case where the Criminal Check passed and either the Citizenship or the Credit check passed (activities in Pink, here). In this case, you can place the Citizen Check and the Credit Check in a subprocess and when one passes then use the raise escalate the edge of the subprocess.

This shows the power of the escalate shape and makes it very clear what is happening.

While this approach requires more canvas, it is clearer what is happening and why. This said, I understand that Arun was merely demonstrating how to use a complex merge in the Oracle Tool.

Monday
Mar192012

Do you have a process for business process management?

During business process modeling, a BPM technical/management team creates or tunes a business process model that supports the project’s objectives.  What are the mental processes of the team members modeling and developing business processes and connecting business events and rules? They use workshops and communication. They interview the best-performing and the worst-performing actors in the processes. They review financial reports, documentation and the notes of the managers of the current process. They identify triggering events, business rules and the process needs for policies. They design the proper flow control. They create pictorial representations.

There are institutional or traditional ways of gathering information about a process. However, few organizations know when it is time to add process thinking and business process management to formalize activities—there is no process to create new topics.

Legacy efforts create reams of paper, cabinets full of files, and databases overflowing with useful information—from management directives to marketing papers to MIS memorandums. Much important information exists here. Yet, business process modeling is different from knowledge management, quality reviews or even data modeling. The purpose of data modeling is to develop a model of what is. The purpose of business process modeling is to develop a model of what should be. Yet, how does an organization decide it is time to gather ad-hoc and undocumented activities and add the structure of business process management?

It is self-apparent to look at a factory production line and know that there is a process present; how do we discover the need for a process? Symptoms of missing process needs include:

  • Poor business or financial performance in a rapid, surprised way
  • Low morale and high employee turnover
  • Management overwhelm, (many decisions, little data)
  • Poor communications

There are other symptoms; however, deciding and clarifying when to create a process can liberate these conditions and improve business results. A well designed process has these characteristics

  • Clear goals
  • Well defined roles
  • Improved clarity
  • Increased visibility

We have identified a series of steps to deciding and delineating a ‘green fields’ or occult process in the enterprise business process framework.

Sunday
Mar042012

Does Your Modeling Capture the 'Swiveling Chair?'

The OMG’s Business Maturity Model (BMM) (link) suggests that organizations should rely on a system of strategic business initiatives from senior management whose implementation is delegated to subordinates (roles).  The delegation acts through processes and business rules and responds to events. However, when a bottom-up process discovery is conducted, the actual process varies widely from the way management has proscribed business operations to function.  Sometimes this is because of legacy process and antiquated technology; sometimes it is due to habit.  Sometimes the need for efficiency created the misaligned processes, and employees, under pressure use creative on-the-spot (ad-hoc, undocumented) solutions. 

Modeling Run away, Manual and Ad Hoc Processes

We often encounter organizations that spend months (or years) analyzing the daily, manual work of individuals.  At the work unit, they might find workers that do not know the business’s basic strategy; let alone the rules.  For example, data entry personnel might copy data into a green screen on another system from a flat file or printout. Often they do not know why.  Frequently there was no solution available to solve the problem.  Until it becomes documented, standard practice, management might not know this. As the business grows and more technology is added, what were 2 persons become 10.  Eventually, with 20 similar processes, 200 people are doing uniformed, manual labor. 

For instance look at the process fragment  below:

Figure 1: A Consumer Credit Check

Process modelers often mistakenly identify the ‘consumer check’ task as an ordinary task with a message flowing to the credit agency. This can be misleading. Often the process is actually manual and the sales personnel are utilizing an extramural application (swivel chair activity) to gather the data. If this is the case, the process below would be more correct.

Figure 2: The Credit Check as a Manual Process

The second BMPN fragment uses the ‘manual task’ to correctly identify the use of the extra mural activity. Perhaps the use of the ratings agency’s web service would be a good ‘to-be’ process.

Seeking Solutions

Organizations need a method which:

  • Creates Models that are easy to understand; higher levels models should clearly parallel management objectives
  • Accommodates improvements and optimizations without necessitating wholesale revisions, be the structure of the models should parallel the structure of the organization, and promote process reuse or federation
  • Easily models complex processes with core patterns and templates
  • Promotes rapid modeling of processes.
  • Defines a scope and context to every process discussion

Once managers have verifed the objectives, business analysts and experts should create scenarios that achieve enterprise goals. Moreover, because process should be linked to the structure of the organizations, its goals and objectives are directly linked to roles. Until 'swivel chair' processes  are properly documented, management might not know their existence. We describe better approaches to process modeling in our second edition of the Microguide to Process modeling.

Tom Debevoise