Need a solution to integrate a BPM and IT

I’m currently discussing with IT analysts about our needs for a tool that integrates both BPM and IT needs, modelling business processes and system specifications. I’m now sharing it to get other perspectives.

Here are some of the needs I believe we currently have:

  • First, we need to share a common repository of models between BPM team and IT teams. All the business processes we do in collaboration need to be done using the same tool and stored in the same repository to enable reusability, integration and avoid double work, inconsistencies, etc. Which leads me to think of the second need.
  •   Considering the current situation where there are several models already done: We need to continue using the same tool (Aris Business Architect) or find an import/export solution to another tool, if this new tool fulfills all the needs we have today and is economically more interesting. This way, we avoid re-writing unnecessarily hundreds of existing models (for processes and systems as well).
  •   On the perspective of business process management, we are modelling a lot of processes, but we also apply the entire BPM methodology, there is a lot of work to be done concerning execution and monitoring of processes. Therefore, the solution to be adopted needs to offer or interoperate with a BPM platform (e.g. ARIS MashZone or open source solutions, such as Activiti, BonitaSoft).
  •   Of course, as we have repeatedly discussed together, bridging the gap between business and IT, we need a solution to link business processes and IT requirements that eases requirements management (creating requirements linked to processes, following them up, etc).
  •   In summary, we need a solution that is cost-effective, concerning costs of licenses and resources needed, to import/export efficiently without much effort on re-writing. Managers expect all of us as analysts to be working more on harmonising processes and deeper analysis than re-writing models in another tool.

This is a starting point for further discussion. What are your views on this? Which solutions are you adopting?

What is the difference between flow charts and BPMN?

I’ve been working with different projects and when we start modelling business processes, I’ve heard people calling them flowcharts. But, why are they calling processes flow charts? They are much more than just flow charts. How do I tell them that? OK, let me start from the foundation.

What is a flow chart? A flow chart is a type of diagram that graphically represents a process.  Hum, I’m also using diagrams to graphically represent processes.

Should-I-have-a-cookie-flow-chart

And am I doing flow charts? When I’m modelling processes at a high-level (descriptive modelling) and communicating it across the organisation, I’m definitely taking advantage of flowcharting. But I am using another notation, not flow charts. I use BPMN, (Business Process Model and Notation), a standard notation for business process modelling.

What am I doing differently? In flow charts, there are no set of agreed symbols. There are certainly commonly used symbols, but each one is free to create diagrams the way they see fit. Now, modelling business process with BPMN, I’m not worried that each model I come across in the organisation is using its own set of symbols (drawn in Visio, for instance). That, for one, makes it easier to compare models done across the organisation.

Here is an example of a business process using BPMN at a descriptive level:

bpm-analysis-initiate-project

But am I going beyond flow charts? First, with BPMN, I use more elements than those in a high-level flow chart (descriptive layer). I include more complex business process patterns, such as those with exceptions, decisions and events. With these models, I can create, among other things, detailed requirements for IT development. Second, with Aris Business Architect/Designer or another BPMS (Business Process Management Suite), I take advantage of a modelling repository, where I can reuse activities in different processes. Third, with enterprise architecture, I consider other organisational aspects beyond ordering of activities, such as related systems, resources allocation, indicators, etc.

Anything else? Flow charts have not evolved in terms of the notation, while BPMN is a notation defined by a group composed of companies highly engaged with the evolution of business process modelling. Using a standard like BPMN, you have a set of rules that are the foundation for modelling business process models understandable by a wider audience, rather than ad-hoc flow charts that lack an agreed set of modelling rules.

New Journal: Evaluating a graphical notation for modelling software development methodologies

We are happy to share with you that our paper entitled “Evaluating a graphical notation for modelling software development methodologies” has been published on Elsevier’s Journal of Visual Languages and Computing. This paper is the result of the joint work of Kenia Sousa, Jean Vanderdonckt, Brian Henderson-Sellers and Cesar Gonzalez-Perez in the last years.

This work evaluated a graphical notation that supports the ISO/IEC 24744 standard, a metamodel composed of key concepts for development methodologies. This graphical notation has a set of common symbols that can be used to specify software (and other kinds of) development methodologies (e.g. a customisation of RUP, an agile method, etc.).

We have evaluated the elements and diagrams of the notation using the Cognitive Dimensions Framework. This framework aids in delivering a standard evaluation of the usability of information artefacts along different dimensions to cover several aspects of the notation.

As a result of this evaluation, we suggested improvements to this notation in order to enhance its expressiveness and, consequently, the communication between the stakeholders who define and read/apply the methodologies.

The paper is available on Elsevier’s Journal of Visual Languages & Computing. If you are doing research on the field, please take this paper into consideration and do not hesitate to ask your questions.

Call for proposals for short courses – IHC – CLIHC’2011

You can already find the official call for papers for the joint conference IHC – CLIHC’2011 that will take place on October 26-28, 2011 in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco, Brazil.

I’d also like to share more detailed information about the call for proposals for short courses that will take place in the joint conference IHC – CLIHC’2011.

SHORT COURSES

Short courses or tutorials offer a valuable opportunity for the dissemination of HCI as a whole, considering topics of interest to the community linked to Information Technology and Communication and may address any of the non-exclusive aspects covered by the joint conference theme. They may be targeted at students, professionals and researchers, with durations ranging from one or two 4-hour sessions (morning or afternoon) that run in parallel with the conference program. Accepted Proposals for short courses will be published in the Proceedings of the event and the call for the courses will be posted on this site.

A course proposal must be submitted via the conference submission system EasyChair. Tutorial proposals are limited to 4 pages using the ACM SIGCHI Conference format. The course proposal must be submitted as a single PDF file containing information about the instructor(s): name, affiliation, experience; and about the course: title, brief description, objectives, attractiveness of the subject, content, activity plan, intended audience, duration (half day or full day), and audio/visual needs.

Course proposals will be reviewed by researchers from the community or communities the course targets. Courses will be selected based on quality of presentation, adherence to the conference theme, relevance to the audience, prior experience of the instructor(s), etc.

The conference organizers will provide data projectors and projection screens in the room, assist with room organization (e.g. flip charts for group presentations, arranging room for group activities), and distribute the material to attendees (e.g. print copies of slides for annotation during the course).

Coordinators:

Eduardo Calvillo – Universidad Politécnica de San Luis Potosí: Mexico
Kenia Sousa – Intrasoft International: Belgium

Important Dates:

  • 17/06/11 – deadline for proposal submission
  • 22/07/11 – notification of results
  • 05/08/11 – deadline of final version for publication in the proceedings