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ProcessDoctor's blog

What is information logistics?

This is a relatively new term and there is no established definition for it. The definitions that do exist, e.g. Wikipedia, put the focus of this discipline on information flow. The flow will obviously be in the focus if information logistics is described as

“Providing right information to the right recipients at the right place and time”.

Is there anything wrong in placing information flow in focus? Actually, there is, as placing the focus affects a way of thinking when looking for an optimal solution. Let us reformulate the goal of information logistic as:

“Bringing together information and people (or machines) that should process this information in the frame of a (business) process aimed at reaching some well defined goal”

What is the difference between “providing information to” and “bringing together”? The former suggests that information is moved to somebody, hence, information flow. The latter is more symmetric. Bringing together can be done by:

  • Moving information to somebody/something
  • Moving somebody/something to information
  • Moving both to meet in the middle

How to choose a set of services in SOA architecture

The question has been raised by a university lecturer teaching SOA architecture. Though there is no definite recipe on how to do it, understanding of what kind of SOA architecture we deal with can help. As we explained in What are relationships between SOA and BPM, if any, term SOA has two meanings:

  • SOA1 = system architecture aimed at providing a proper structure for an IT-system
  • SOA2 = business architecture aimed at providing services to others

If we are talking about SOA1, services should be chosen based on the system analysis, i.e., compact code, reusability in the same or in several systems, maintainability, load balancing. The decision here is taken in the technical dimension.

If we are talking about SOA2, services should be chosen based on the analysis of the market, i.e.: demand on services of certain type, competition, possibility to get paid, etc. The decision is taken in the business dimension.

How to Make Your Business Processes Patentable?

Today, Brian Keedwell from Integrating Marketing brought to my attention the Bilski case, see for example, Wikipedia’s article on the matter. This case puts a stop on patents for business methods and, in fact, questions patentability of business processes as such. There are a lot of companies who have already patented their business processes, Dell among others, and who can expect legal attacks on their patents from now on.

This case reaffirmed the machine-or-transformation requirement for an idea to be patentable. Actually, the holders of business process patents do not need to worry, and I hope Dell will be glad to hear this. Usually, a business process does produce a transformation of the physical world. The only thing that the holders of patents need is to explicitly prove this fact in their process definitions.

Nothing can be easier (???) when you use a right method for describing business processes! We differentiate four main methods for business process specification based on what is in the focus of description:

  • Input/output flow - focus on passive participants that are being consumed, produced, or changed by the process activities

What is a BPM suite? (Business Process Management suite)

A so called Business Process Management suite (BPM suite) is an integrated tool for designing, verifying, simulating, and operating business processes as well as automating and improving them.

Recently, I came across citation from the Gartner report that the overall BPM market grew from$1.229 billion in 2006 to $1.692 billion in 2007. In connection to this, I looked through a number of BPM suites, and found that there are a lot of them, coming from big as well as small vendors, e.g., QPR, Ultimus, IBM, not counting open source projects.

Who needs BPMN from OMG?

Recently, I reviewed an article for an academic journal devoted to the actual use of Business Process Management Notation (BPMN) from Object Management Group (OMG) the authors of the notorious UML standard. What the paper found is that despite quite a complex structure of the new language, very few process modelers used it for drawing complicated process diagrams. Most of the modelers just use small subsets of the language to draw simplified flowcharts with which they are quite satisfied.

To understand the phenomenon and to review the article I gave the notation a quick glance. What I found did not look good in my eyes. For some years ago, I wrote a practical manual on how to choose an approach to business process modeling in which I had differentiated four different views on business processes:

  • Input/output flow
  • Workflow
  • Agent related view
  • State-flow

Furthermore, I discussed which view to choose dependent on the task at hand, type of the process, and modeling environment.