Software Development Methods – Selecting a Pragmatic Approach

Having personally done extensive work with many Organisations over the years to help them create, adapt and implement various types of SDLCs for specific transformational needs, I found the recent article by Mark Kennaley very insightful as a categorised summary of the types of Methods that exist.

Mark describes how the various Software Development Methods (used during an SDLC) often reflect the culture, structure and processes of the Organisation and promotes either positive or negative characteristics when it comes to Delivery of  Solutions that meet Business needs.

He states that the typical negative impact on an organisation manifests itself in various costly ways:

…Each time an organization embraces a new methodology, it triggers a large change management exercise. Within IT, this change typically involves a three-to-five year process that results in the following direct costs for a 1,000-person IT organization:

  • Consulting, training, and mentoring costs to go from novice to competent, and even expert, using Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus’ skill acquisition model. For 1,000 people, this can cost $1 million to $2 million.
  • Knowledge management, to avoid the risk of relying on tacit knowledge in the heads of coaches and consultants. If performed, the capture of standard work, or “our way of working,” results in more than $1 million in costs related to process-related software.
  • Changes in approach can also trigger the need for new process management tools. Cost can range from free to $1 million or more.
  • Costs related to putting a new software delivery infrastructure in place. Hitting the reset button can cost upward of $5 million.

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Gartner Predicts Lack of BPM will topple many Global 2000 Companies

In a recent article from Gartner, they predict that:

Between now and year-end 2014 an intensifying focus on process-related skills, competencies and competitive differentiators will increasingly separate process excellence leaders from the laggards among the Global 2000, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner has identified some of its key predictions for business process management (BPM) in 2011 and beyond.

“A key theme in our BPM predictions for 2011 is the rising focus on making business process improvement (BPI) a core competency of the organization — and on the capabilities and tools required to gain that competency,” said John Dixon, research director at Gartner. “Increasing process skills in the Global 2000 will further separate the companies with enlightened process experts from those that are simply competent in the basics — and will intensify the negative repercussions and devastating consequences from public exposure of process weakness.”

It goes on to state that:

  • Between now and year-end 2014, overlooked but easily detectable business process defects will topple 10 Global 2000 companies.
  • By 2015, context-aware computing will be used to rejuvenate at least 25 percent of “commodity” enterprise processes that are currently perceived as “low value.”
  • By 2014, process templates from “nontraditional application vendors” will be included in the shortlisted options for 70 percent of application purchases.
  • General BPM certification will grow in value but will not be materially relevant to BPM hiring decisions before 2015.

Would love to hear your thoughts on how well prepared your organisation is.

Further reading:

Adios to Google Wave! RIP!

For those not plugged into the news continuum that is the Internet, it may be news to some that last week Google has announced that it is to stop its collaborative tool Google Wave.

According to this Google post they had the following to say…

We have always pursued innovative projects because we want to drive breakthroughs in computer science that dramatically improve our users’ lives. Last year at Google I/O, when we launched our developer preview of Google Wave, a web app for real time communication and collaboration, it set a high bar for what was possible in a web browser.

They go on to say that ….

We were equally jazzed about Google Wave internally, even though we weren’t quite sure how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication…

…But despite these wins, and numerous loyal fans, Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects like Buzz.

As a early adoptor I found it interesting and very innovative. However, early on it became apparent that it was a very technical and feature rich application that only techies really knew what to do with. If anything Wave was too far ahead of its time and perhaps had too many features that confused users.

In short, it can be described as ‘a solution waiting for a problem’. Just think if it was as good at predicting the future as keeping track of the past….

Many times innovation and failure is not a bad thing. It usually provides the impetus to spawn other ideas and solutions that find a greater and more fertile audience in other areas. Any ideas on what they plan on coming up with next?

BPM Centre of Excellence – Strategic & Tactical Value Explained

Foreword: Having recently completed the design and implementation of an operational BPM Competency Centre for a Global Insurance company, I thought I would share a bit of my recent experience on the subject. The Competency Centre initiative formed part of the extremely ambitious IT and Business Transformation programme that is fundamental in redefining the organisation and laying the foundation for its expansion strategy across Europe.

Over the decades, the search for IT and/or Business ‘Excellence’ has led to a concept that is often misunderstood and can be very amorphous in definition and execution – Business/IT Transformation.

A term also commonly used in the same context is that of a Centre of Excellence or ‘CoE’ aka ‘Competency Centre.’  In this post, I will not attempt to redefine either, but rather explain a bit more about how the various constituent parts of a CoE can support Transformation projects and more specifically Business Process Management (BPM) initiatives.

The purpose of a CoE is to act as a nucleus for promoting and managing the collaboration of people, processes and technologies around key organisational objectives by ensuring the application of best practices, education and training, support services and technology awareness.

In most organisations, this is an extremely complex challenge, especially if the level of organisational maturity is low and their existing operational model is disjointed. That said, more mature and integrated organisations find the exigency and necessary focus for adopting a CoE a challenge.

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jBPM 5 Announced by jBoss

jBPMLast week jBoss announced the release of jBPM 5 and have reached out to the jBoss Community for comments regarding what should be included in the roadmap going forward.

The recent announcement states that

…in an effort to consolidate that, we would like to combine our efforts in what will be the next generation BPM platform, called jBPM 5.

jBPM 5 will be based on the combined experience of jBPM and Drools Flow (and related projects like RiftSaw and Overlord), and will bring together the benefits of both solutions (and much more).

It goes on to say…

The architecture of jBPM 5 builds on the experience that was built up over the past few years based on our customer feedback as well as strong community involvement. It will continue the vision of all of the constituent projects, so large parts of the architecture that we are presenting here will probably not come as a surprise to you, either because it already exists in a current project or because it has been on the roadmap for quite some time (BPMN2 for example).

Should be interesting to see what develops.

More about jBPM can be found here.

BPM in the Cloud – What’s it all about?

Business Process Management is becoming more common place and has become accepted as a business imperative by most organisations. The adoption of Cloud based solutions that provide integrated process SaaS offerings is however still not as widely accepted but is finding traction.

A recent event from Cordys explains “How Cloud Computing Will Change Business Process Management” in which George Barlow, the CEO of Cloud Harbor, Inc. a Cloud computing software and services company presents a view of how:

…the  increasing relevance of Cloud computing, using BPM systems will be offered in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model and be delivered in on-premise service appliances behind the firewall.

… it explores these topics and provide a glimpse into these significant new business technologies to be delivered “in the Cloud”.

It is obviously a vendor and service provider view of the business and technological value proposition but in my opinion, the webinar (with audio option) is one of the better introductions to ‘BPM in the Cloud’ and is also supported by various analyst market forecasts.

Check out the webinar  here (requires short registration) or alternatively, the slides from the presentation are below for those who are ‘time challenged’   🙂

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BPM Conference – Vendors Showcase BPM and EA Capabilities

The recent event from BPM CON II – Intelligent BPM for the Productive Enterprise highlighted something that I have posted about before – the importance of EA & BPM convergence.

Admittedly, everyone has a different view on what BPM and EA is and how value can be derived from each but as with most things, real benefits come from combining individual concepts, methods and tools rather than just working with them individually on a case by case basis.

This  general principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics:  “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”.

Reductionism in contrast, is sometimes seen as the opposite of holism. Reductionism in science says that a complex system can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts. This sounds very much like the abstraction capabilities that Business Process Mangement and Enterprise Architecture provide.

No matter how you choose to define it, ultimately the focus should be on  how both can be used to solve tactical business problems while executing a longer term strategic roadmap. But I digress…..

The BPM II conference had four vendors presenting their capabilities and approaces to how BPM & EA could be used.

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