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Suggested by Dr. Alexander Samarin from this article at Harvard Business Review which says: "Process optimization can transform user experience. Rethinking process optimization — visualizing processes as platforms — can transform your business model." What do you think?
Patrick Lujan
Blog Writer
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No, that's putting the cart before the horse. Processes first, always. "What," not "how."
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  3. # 1
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Process optimization is a business practices; platforms involve technologies. You can "rethink" them all you want, but because they're entirely different animals, one can never replace the other. You might, however, consider having them both!
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Interesting article, but I'm not sure I entirely get the point... Seems like what we've always done, but perhaps with different terminology.

Platform is the foundation (what your business really is). Processes are the interfaces to that foundation (how business is carried out).

If your Platform is flawed your Processes won't "fix" anything.
If your Processes don't truly "match" your Platform, then they won't fix anything.
Founder at John Reynolds' Venture LLC - Creator of ¿?Trules™ for drama free decisions
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  3. # 3
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Absolutely brilliant question !

I would be content with " Process optimization can transform user experience. Rethinking process optimization — visualizing processes IN platforms — can transform your business model."

The question is an extremely important one, I can't tell without reading the article whether it is a trick question, but we could spend days debating the question itself.

1. Process optimization can definitely transform some of the user experience (hopefully making work easier to perform, increasing user efficiency, increasing throughput, decreasing errors, improving compliance with internal and external rules and regulations).

2. Once BPM community members have transitioned from spending most of their time on end-to-end processes (end-to-end will re-become fashionable once AI takes its rightful position between work and users) to designing process fragments and threading these together at run-time, everyone will be on the same page with realization that over-attention to optimizing process fragments is sub-optimization.

3. Why the nit-pick on "visualization of processes in platforms" versus "visualization of processes as platforms"? Only because my mindset on the performance of work is that it takes place/needs to take place within Cases (pick another word for run-time environment if you like) and within any Case the focus is on managing the Case not on managing process fragments\steps that the Case is hosting.

Case Managers do not manage processes, they manage progress toward meeting Case Objectives.

Background "BPM + Case-level rules + Corporate rule downloads to Cases" provide the orchestration (and governance) these folks need and Case level decision support, experience, judgment\intuition complete the Case Manager tool kit.

The ending bit "... can transform your business model" is an understatement.

Here, I am happy to go out on a limb and say ".. will dramatically transform your business model".
I read the article - Michael Shrage has it right with "Platforms, not processes, are what empower processes to interoperate and productively interact."
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  3. # 4
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My interpretation of this article is that the author wants see more services and functionality (such as A/B testing, iterative experimentation, ‘collective intelligence’, etc.) around existing processes. This is certainly has a lot of sense, especially, for better CX.

Enriching each typical process-based application with those capabilities would be a rather time and resource consuming “digital” transformation. Instead, all common functionality should constitute a platform, e.g. Digital Business Platform (DBP), and existing processes are re-implemented in such a platform.

I think, this article confirms our previous discussion that a) typical process-centric solutions must be very adaptable and b) it will be nice to have a DBP which can grow with the pace of business but not software vendors.

Sure, and a good UI that allows the user to establish a cursor position in a post-relational RDBMS accomplishes this, in theory.

You can load up a workspace with functions that talk to the db and to each other, reach out to local and remote processors. If your platform is able to link to a portal module/e-mail advisory, it can host CRM/CEM. If it can handle boilerplate, then you can practice ECM.

So, as you say, the author implies you end up with a DBP that picks up ACM, BPM, CRM/CEM, ECM.

Your caveat "... grow with the pace of business'" is well noted.

We could poll the vendors with two simple questions . . .

"Can your environment accommodate 100,000 discrete data fields without Users having to open MS SQL Server Management Studio to define these"?, then,

"Can your environment accommodate 100,000 boilerplate documents without users having to open a product like MS Sharepoint?

I bet few would be able to say yes,
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This was one of those articles that I couldn't read through the end. My bad. Must be the new bullshit bingo word "platformization" that did it for me.

If the gist is that processes alone are not enough, but an integrated, architectural approach (that encompasses experiences, engagements, data and analytics) would be better... I.e. a DBP.... then, duh!
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
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How about ".. an integrated architectural approach , , , , is essential",

given that resource allocation, leveling and balancing is not typically part of BPM software offerings,
given that FOMM (Figure of Merit Matrices) is not part of BPM

and, as we move forward with IoT devices and AI sitting between these, given that seamless interoperability is not part of BPM.

Without a run-time environment to host all of the above (never mind the fancy "integrated, architectural approach" terminology) I just don't see how any organization can make practical use of BPM other than to generate paper process maps.

I concede that if your process is end-to-end with all steps totally automated, with almost all of the processing taking place at end devices, then you only occasionally need a UI but you still need a workspace in which to generate dispatch messages/transactions, receive inbound messages/transactions, perform consolidating calculations and link to/from your DBMS..

The big deal with RT environments hosting background BPM is that you can handle any mix of structured and unstructured processes, the latter being "processes of one step each" which means they don't need any special handling.

Secondly, these environments can handle "system" as a performing user, otherwise where is user "system" going to launch process fragments, and perform the steps that are in these fragments?

Lastly, these environments can accommodate 'guest' or 'casual' users with very low level roles/permissions - these too need a workspace.

So, for any organization trying to put other than very simple BPM processes in-line, I say they cannot expect to achieve liftoff with BPM.

All of this said, I recently looked at a list of CPM software programs where the only available features are Gantt charts, with no evidence of 'critical path' ES-EF-LS-LF, float calculations - how on earth do you 'do' CPM in the absence of the CPM algorithm?

We live in interesting times.
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Sure, only classic flow-charts are not enough today. Fortunately, a lot of techniques you mentioned are just other coordination techniques thus can be fused with classic flow-charts. Concerning about IoT, I would recommend to treat them as system serving the system-of-interest via digital contracts (obviously processes). See http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2016/07/digital-contract-as-process-enables.html
@Karl, I grew very curious on "Figure of Merit Matrices". Given my background in stats and general attraction to tabular representation of processes, the formulation looks incredibly promising. Silly enough, I cannot find any worthy references to this subject in BPM context. If you can share some, it will be most helpful and educational. Thank you.
@Boris... I think you will find adaptations of FOMM very interesting in your work.

The FOMM research goes back at least to 1969 - as I remember the source problem was selection of configurations based on accuracy, range and payload of ballistic missiles.

It seems I referred to FOMM in my MSc thesis but I don't have a copy ("Applications of program management information systems") - It seemed to me the author of the paper was J. Boose but Rand Corp did a search and found nothing.

However, I found just now a same-topic paper by Benjamin Pinkel or Rand Corp that you can download.


I wrote a paper on business process management use of FOMM five years ago at my blog i.e. "Adaptive Case Management Earned Value Matrix Model"
http://wp.me/pzzpB-iF. if you find any holes in it, please let me know

I will try to get a copy of my original research from the university.
@Karl, incredibly interesting! I beg your pardon, the first link is to your local disk file, if you ve ever planned to share it. Nevertheless, the second one is just excellent. I really enjoyed reading. I somehow suspect that modern DMN discoveries fall pale to you excel outlines.

In general, math is not so quick in progress as modern AI brains, so math concepts drawn decades prior to the flood of devices and even PCs are often still more valid than recent research. Regretfully, artificial brains too often discourage our own brains from productive thinking. I suspect it is exactly the case with your thesis.
Sorry, for the bad link .. Here is the source link

@Karl, awesome reading. You made my day. Thank you.
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  3. # 7
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What is important is the platform of software that supports BPM to deliver the digital working solution. Optimisation is an on going exercise based upon such a platform. The processes are better described as an "environment" where work is undertaken to create new data and business outcomes. Adaptive is an important tag that describes well the required flexibility for optimisation; so I would suggest "Adaptive Environment" "AE" would sit alongside "AI" as in reality they will in operational business? Such a term is a good description which reflects where the optimisation focus should be and would be understood by business?
"nvironment" is a good analogy except that its life time is much longer than a process instance duration. I think, we need something with its tempo between "meeting" and "contract".

OK, we have "platform", "environment" and "process" spinning around here.

For me, "platform" needs to occupy center stage, "environment" is then the workspace where all of the activity takes place and "process template instances" post to the environment, provide orchestration (and some governance), and then go away.

If users, software and robots are launching "process template instances", clearly we have an expectation of several / many of these being active over the lifetime of a Case [oops, another term we need to worry about]

Let's say Case is nothing more that a "bucket" where we find a record of all activity that has taken place, is taking place and will take place for a particular focus. This way, we don't have Case competing with "platform", "environment", "workspace", "process", "template" or "instance".

On process instance durations, no problem with contemporaneous instances - you can easily have an Order for 10 custom snowmobiles, where the work for each is within it's own set of private instances of several process templates.

Of course in respect of outside data flowing into the Case the publishers had better label their data "record holder\template\instance\sub-instance\data element name\data element value" if the data is to go to the right places. Introduction of the notion of sub-case avoids long qualifiers and the analogy of a sub-case within a case could be an Item on an Purchase Order OR, in healthcare, an Episode consisting of a diagnosed condition\ tx\discharge plan.

I have no problem with ". . . . processes are better described as [executing within] an "environment" - this is precisely where they maximize value as opposed to sitting as flowgraphs on paper process maps.
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  3. # 8
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IT exists in a form of platforms. Bigger organization is - more platforms it uses. In large organizations count of distinct platforms goes on thousands. It is not a result of poor IT planning but an objective reality and diversity of business areas.

Many platforms might look as “legacy”, especially for a newcomer consultant seeking to “optimize” and replace them. However, exactly these legacy platforms typically comprise an essential know-how of business. It is not always easy or reasonable to “optimize” them. Reference paper well illustrates this point.

Successful optimization must always rely on deep analysis of existing platforms yielding essential master data and business rules contained in them. This essential step is often neglected, which always leads to poor results in subsequent refactoring of processes.

Optimization of processes inside platforms is not always easy for technical reasons. BPM has much more potential in organizing efficient workflows and communications between existing platforms, rather than transforming platforms internally or replacing them with ad-hoc innovations.

Mission of BPM is to aggregate knowledge and to improve coordination of isolated platforms based on this accumulated knowledge instead of attempting to replace existing platforms with allegedly superior singular BPM solution or platform.
Good points, Boris

Wo long as we have ONE platform/environment that is capable of hosting BPM template instances, the worst-case acceptable scenario is you need data transport facilities to/from local and remote legacy platforms to consolidate/manage data.

The big hurdle is for these platforms to be capable of exporting their data and importing data from other publishers - some platforms can/ others cannot.

Given an expectation of data flow, all you need is a generic data exchanger and hope that performance will be acceptable.

Few of the apps I work will will allow data to be directly read from them or allow data to be directly poked to them because of high levels of needed security.

At-arms-length data exchange on a need-to-know basis is a lot easier to implement
@Karl, thank you for the reply.

I m not sure that data bridge for platforms is always suitable or adequate. Quite often platforms have their own elaborate execution logic, which is not always feasible to replace entirely. Exactly such case describes the paper referenced by @Peter in title of this topic. Of course, for most primitive platforms, interaction through their underlying data stores is one of most universal recipes. However, if any formal API exists, it is usually far easier and safer option. In this scenario, processes of platforms can appear as sub-processes of BPM system orchestrating them with other platforms and its own process elements.
RE “in large organizations count of distinct platforms goes on thousands. ” Hmmn, are we mixing “applications” and “platforms”? One of my clients, second in its sector, with 130+K staff and operating in 100+ countries, had “only” 5000+ applications and 20+ of platforms.
@Alexander, excellent correction. Thank you. I suppose platforms and applications are mixed in referred article too. I was meaning actually applications, although a distinction is very subtle. Every notable application now has own ecosystem extensions and plug-ins. This way, application itself turns into a sort of platform. I think every large application can be considered as platform itself. Take any server based application, say, WordPress. It does not matter for users, on which platform it runs, Windows or Linux. It will still serve content and extensions in almost universal way. With cross-platform trends, we are getting closer to application-centric view from platforms in their classical sense.
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