If you can't model in 10 minutes or less there's something wrong with your BPM

I’m currently working with ARIS Business Designer v7.1 with a client and it’s a welcome refresh from previous versions but it struck me that I didn’t really need to find my way around a lot of things to use it. The interface was clean enough and there’s a few new features which I can take advantage of if I need them. Admittedly I’ve used a lot of tools over the years but ease of use boils down to just one thing;

If you can’t model a process as quickly as you can in Visio then there’s something wrong

Bit of a sweeping statement I know but really, Visio has been around 20-odd years so you have little excuse for creating cumbersome and complex process mapping/ analysis tools that a business user cannot get to grips with in 10 minutes or less. Considering there’s around 4m users of Visio who actively use it as a process mapping tool why are they not migrating quicker to the advantages that a BPA or even a BPM tool can bring ? I’m not saying replicate the Visio front end entirely but replicate how comfortable it is for a business user to navigate around and pull together maps quickly.

With the amount of money thrown at R&D to create wonderful new features you’d expect all the vendors to have hit that sweet-spot but sadly this isn’t the case.

Do we really need business process tools to be as complex as the BPM language we insist on using ?

And if you respond to this post supporting your own software and how slick it is be prepared to put your money where your mouth is, you could be asked to attend a BPM Smackdown….


5 responses to “If you can't model in 10 minutes or less there's something wrong with your BPM

  1. Theo.I agree with you completely. Our product Vdot (http://procelerate.com/) does just what you described. Vdot has been the choice for many customers to capture their processes and optimize them, switching from Visio, Power Point, Excel and Post-its to Vdot for its rich tailored UI. Not only do we easily capture processes, but we also manage our ‘active processes’ to ensure nothing is dropped and you have an audit trail of just what was done. More importantly, using Vdot, you can go from process definition to active process without expensive time consuming coding (believe it). I am not really sure what a BPM Smack down is, but please do get a demo or our product (tell them you want to see more about process authoring/capture) as seeing is believing. God Bless,Jeff

  2. The quicker you create content, the faster the intranet / hard disk fills up with content NO ONE is every going to look at again once the project has finished.A BT Project manager famously stood up in a presentation and said they had built the biggest write-only database of process content. A major oil company has just binned $100m of process content investment because it is out of date and unusable. This is a common theme we find at clients.If you want project documentation please use Visio, ARIS or another BPA tool. If you want content which is created rapidly in live workshops BUT WHICH ALSO which enables sustainable improvement you may need to look to the clouds.

  3. I agree, with the caveat that not all processes are easily modeled using traditional, Visio-like flow diagrams. To the extent you have a process that is easily modeled that way: absolutely, it should be easy, familiar, and straightforward.What types of processes don’t lend themselves to this type of model? • Highly parallel, complex, or multi-path processes. • Processes that cannot be modeled all at once, and therefore benefit from "stubs": sections of a process that stand in for workflows that will be more fully developed later.• Process that are simply easier to visualize in the same way we think about projects, as a series of activities and dependencies.So, the nice thing about Process Director is that you can mix and match. Those workflows that are more quickly and easily disposed of using a Visio-like interface can be handled in that manner (a feature which, you are right, every BPM software worth its salt already offers. No competitive differentiation there.) But for complex, multi-path, cross-silo processes, Process Director offers an additional, new way to model and think about those processes, a method that overcomes the shortcomings of the "Visio" technique alone.

  4. @Ian – I like your statement "The quicker you create content, the faster the intranet / hard disk fills up with content NO ONE is every going to look at again once the project has finished."This is a similar question than the vertical/horizontal question you asked elsewhere on this site and it is an invitation to vendors to pitch their products, which is just noise in the discussion that is highly annoying IMHO (even though I am happy that you like our tool ;-)The real topic behind your question is not how fast you can use your tool, since this can be trained, but the quality of your process understanding and the way/style you decided model your processes ("Which type of event do I have to use in BPMN to say X again?" . I am working in the process area for over 13 years now and God knows how many hours I spent in workshops and discussions where the BPM tool was running idle while the participants tried to defend their position about the way they work as "the" standard.I agree that there is no reason to have clumsy interfaces and make it harder than needed to use a tool, but expecting that you can gain proficiency in a software without any training/practising is unrealistic, if the tool has just a little more capabilities than just drawing. To me this seems to expect that you can safely drive a car @ 250 km/hr on the Autobahn when you are just able to leave your driveway.

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