Thursday, 20 June 2013

BPMN Modeling with Simulations


Bazagi has released version 2.5 of Process Modeler. This version contains a Lanner Simulation Engine that can be used to analyze process flows, identify process bottlenecks, and optimize.

The simulation is very simple to set up, and comes complete with a number of Statistical Distributions. I was able to run processes very quickly at level 1, and by adding additional limits and constraints, levels 2 and 3. After a while, I started to receive the error message "The simulation has failed. Please ensure that your model is compliant to the BPMN2.0 standard and that it is supported by the Simulation engine."

As it turns out, the failure was caused by my usage of the Normal Distribution, with the negative three sigma value coming very close to zero - I believe this causes some inputs to be negative, and hence fail. The solution is to use the "Truncated Normal Distribution" and set the minimum value to 0.01 if you happen to be skirting with zero. This should prevent any negatives from occuring, and ensure a smooth BPMN execution.  

This is a great addition to an already wonderful tool.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Stop Searching for Answers

Do you want to innovate or imitate ?

It's become too easy to fire up the browser and seek out the search results for answers.

Has it ever occurred to you that the existence of answers mean that it has been done before ?

There comes a time when the search reveals nothing useful. Instead of giving up, you should be excited that you may be on to something new and unique (or merely that the inventor never bothered to post it on the web).

Stop searching for answers and start creating the right questions.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Are Facebook and Twitter innovations or just apps ?

We obviously live in an internet era.

Many recent graduates are forming startups hoping to reap the rewards like Yahoo (in the oldest days) Google (in the old days) and Facebook/Twitter in the present.

These are popular services, no doubt about it, and the press just can't stop talking about them. Valuations and IPOs are completely without realism. It's like saying that the most successful company in world commerce is the Yellow Pages.

These silly valuations come from investors fear of missing out on the next big IPO.

But are we forgetting something ? All these billion dollar-valuation companies are all single dimensional. They are all just web apps. Software really. So while their services may be innovative in their offerings, they are really just very big software houses.

I see complaints that the US is losing it's edge in innovation and R&D. No surprise really. While US is busy building web apps, China and Korea and the rest of the world are doing R&D in flat panels, lasers, semiconductor materials, acoustics, vehicle safety, and green energy. Multi-dimensional.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Business Modeling with BPMN

Very often we find that the Requirements Management process leads to a dead end. Typically, this is a revelation that the origin of the project are not well understood - and it is time to do some Business Modeling - to clarify exactly why the project is needed and where it fits into the grand scheme of things.

Over the past decade or so, I have used elements of UML to document the Business Processes, but found that something is still lacking. Activity Diagrams and Business Use Case Models can only go so far. 

I have found a very valuable tool in BPMN 2.0 - the Business Process Model and Notation - in particular the Level 1 and Level 2 conformance subclasses that limit the icon set and greatly increase the adoption rate among our client organizations. Naturally, a set of icons alone won't do the job - Bruce Silver's BPMN Method and Style goes beyond notation and offers a Methodology of process, notation, and best practices.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Master of the CONOPs

By now, news on the death of Steve Jobs has flooded the wires.

Steve was, without doubt, the Visionary. I'm not talking about the beautifully crafted products that have people queuing outside of Apple Stores from the early hours of the morning, but something more profound.

Steve was a master of the CONOPs - the Concept of Operations, and for offering "whole products".

For a product to be truly exceptional it has to fulfill the customers compelling reason to buy; this was called the "whole product" by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm.

The iPod was not the first MP3 player to hit the market, Diamond Rio was considered the standard for a time - but there lies the difference, there were no associated CONOPs and users had to figure things out for themselves. It was the launch of iTunes and the App Store that opened up the possibilities by creating a Concept of Operations that completed the loop.

One great company that could benefit greatly from this concept would be Adobe.

Photoshop is considered to be a whole product, maintaining a clear leadership position with a wide variety of third party plugins that further extend the core capability. What is missing, however, is the CONOPs. Just a little more thought is required to get from camera to published magazine. Possibilities are endless here - why are they allowing Getty Images or Corbis to take all the profit while they do all the work ?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Have faith in your process

It is vitally important to maintain robust Business Modeling and Requirements Engineering processes in your organization.

Why ? well Donald Rumsfeld said it best -
"There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know."

With a trustworthy and proven process, you can be confident that you will uncover the known unknowns, and possibly bring to light some unknown unknowns into the discourse...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Vision, or lack thereof

Over recent weeks there has been a great deal of chatter about the future of Apple - now that their great visionary leader has called it a day, for his health reasons. It shall be interesting to see how Apple continues to innovate and delight users several years from now once Job's ideas-in-the-pipeline are all used up and they have to create their own.

In contrast, we have Hewlett-Packard announcing all sorts of departures - from the PC business, the Tablet business, and possibly the Hardware business, wanting to solely focus on financial software services. Good luck entering that uncrowded sector...

Back in my days as an engineering student, HP was to be seen everywhere - scientific calculators (together with Texas Instruments) and all their lab gear like oscilloscopes (as was Tektronix). HP was seen as an innovator, or should I say Bill and Dave were, not HP the company. Today, what does HP actually stand for ?

A lot has been said about Carly Fiona's poor decision for the purchase of Compaq - it was a reactionary buy rather than a visionary's. And when did a great instrument company become a computer company anyway ?

The tech industry loves heroes, and pretty much ignore faceless corporations. Rational's stuff was great to use while there were the "Three Amigos". These products are now buried deep within Big Blue's catalog. The trio have long gone as has market share in modeling tools.

What is your vision, HP ? What is your identity ? Leave out all that "Maximizing shareholder value" because you are being sued by your shareholders. Companies need to innovate now more than ever, and communicate those visions of the ideal future. Apple does this well - products are well designed, manufactured, and packaged - and a pleasure to use. HP needs to dream big and create a new category or it will not survive.

Two companies, on opposite sides of the spectrum, both requiring a Vision. One to maintain their leadership position, the other from irrelevance.