Webinar on WebRatio BPM Platform 8.4

I’m glad to share the video of the most recent webinar on WebRatio BPM Platform, the BPMN-based tool designed to support you in building high-end BPM Web and mobile Apps with a tailored User Experience. If you never experienced WebRatio BPM Platform, here is a summary of what you can do with it:

  •  DEVELOP WEB AND MOBILE APPS through prototypes, then change them as many times as you need. No more time wasted building mockups on paper.
  • NO VENDOR LOCK IN thanks to highly optimized generated code that is open, human readable and based on the most recent Java and JS frameworks.
  • DEFINE A CUSTOM WEB OR MOBILE FRONT END for your BPM App and create a customized user interface, giving every channel a different user experience.
  • SUPPORT YOUR USERS’ MOBILITY thanks to the mobile BPM capabilities that let you work on your BPM App on any device, desktop or mobile, and deliver a seamless user experience.
Discover more on the WebRatio site or watch the video of the webinar on YouTube:

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Roman Pichler on Agile Product Strategy at the AgileForInnovation event

On March 14, 2014 Politecnico di Milano hosted the AgileForInnovation event, organized by CEFRIEL and the Software Engineering group at DEIB (more specifically, by Elisabetta di Nitto, in the picture with Roman Pichler).

Elisabetta di Nitto and Roman Pichler

The event started with a keynote by Roman Pichler on Agile Product Strategy, which was very motivational.
The main message was: before delving into details of product design and implementation, one should focus on:

  • Market: Who are the users? Who are the customers?
  • Value Proposition: Why would they buy it? What value would they find it useful?
  • Business Drivers: why is it worthwhile to invest in it? What are the business goals?
A possible tool for focusing on this is the Vision Board, comprising:
  • Vision statement
  • Target group: who?
  • Needs: why?
  • Product: what? (top 3 features that makes it stand out)
  • Value: How much?

Here is an example of vision board (courtesy of Roman Pichler):

Vision Board for agile product innovation
Example of Vision Board for agile product innovation.

You start applying validation on the idea. One of the main concepts then is to be able to understand immediately that your validation is giving back some signals of risk of failure. You must be able to fail and learn fast. You must be able to PIVOT, i.e.: if the product strategy is invalid, you need to stop or change, and pivot your strategy early. This is not easy:  accepting failure is not easy task!
But if you want to innovate in a lean and agile way, failure is part of the game. You must prepare a safe environment for failure.
One typical agile approach is SCRUM, which promotes quick “create-validate-analyse&update” cycles on the product deliveries.
Along these rounds, you may need:

  • refinements
  • early pivots (and then you go back to the vision board) when the feedback challenges your fundamental assumptions
  • late pivots and late failures (which is obviously much more painful and costly).


Roberto Acerbis presenting history
and customer cases of WebRatio.

Within the same event, I gave a presentation on “Agile Sw Modeling for Increasing Productivity: Impossible Reality?”, where I presented our experience with IFML, WebRatio and agile practices.

A presentation by Roberto Acerbis (see picture) covered the part of industrial experience and starting up of WebRatio.

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Sufficiently advanced software development methodology

I’ve been intrigued today by a bold tweet by Meinte Boersma (see his blog to know more about him and his activities)

Any sufficiently advanced software development methodology is indistinguishable from model-driven.

Meinte, I personally fully agree with you. Being also an advocate of Model driven development (and model driven in general, as this blog’s title demonstrates), this is not surprising at all.

This also opened up a new line of discussion, on whether MD* should be named a methodology at all or not.
Personally, I’m again with Meinte and I would say that MD* is much more than a bunch of tools. I think it is actually a methodology, or even more an overall way of thinking. If we want to delve into it: I think it’s a way to make explicit how we should think.

But real question as I see it is :
why can’t an advocate of any discipline state the same it for its own approach?
(e.g., development approaches like: Agile, Lean, test-based, search-based, …)

My response:
MDE is actually in a much better position, because it’s a way for formulating, stating and formalizing ways of thinking that are inherent with the human way of seeing the world (i.e., abstraction). That’s why MDE / MDD advocates can actually say that advanced software development methodology is indistinguishable from model-driven.

What’s your response?

Let’s discuss them all here!

[Incidentally, this is my post #100 on this blog! Thanks to all of you readers and contributors]

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5th MDA and Agile Modeling Forum, Milano, Sept 30, 2010 – Afternoon Session

In the afternoon session of the 5th MDA and Agile Modeling Forum I got the following messages:

Fabrizio Gheller (Altran)
Need and advntages of applying a stability index to business objects to obtain better overall performances of processes.

Pierfranco Ferronato (Soluta.net)
Wrong perspectives on agile development:

  • Agile as an excuse for avoiding planning and documentation
  • Programers are the only knowledgeable of what happens at the business level
  • Resource lock-in: if that guy leaves, we are dead. He is the only one who knows!

Sometimes there’s the need of joining business and IT, sometimes of splitting them: IT people should not talk business, and business ones should not talk IT .
UML is not a DSL, it’s a NDL: No Domain Language.Spaghetti modelling is not much better than spaghetti programming, and a tool or standard method per se will not solve your problems.
The problem should be split in:

  • configure the business [IT independent]: parameters and success metrics
  • model the business [IT independent]: steps and activities
  • support the business [IT dependent]: new services and semantics

The developer will not write specific code any more, he will write templates.

Roberto Pozzi (IBM Rational)
The usual risk is separation between models and implementations. Diversified tools and languages are needed for allowing communication between business and IT and between planning and solution delivery, down to alignment of the infrastructures that support business services.
Rational System Architect is a toolsuite that provides different modeling views to the enterprise architecture design.
Objective criteria must be defined to keep activities aligned with the objectives. Risk analysis and metrics should be applied to model driven design too, to allow governance of the portfolio of projects.
Eventually, a unified and unique repository should be there for allowing search and reuse of all the assets. Metamodels should guide their classification (as from the “Rational Common Modeling Platform” vision).
IBM is not yet at modeling execution, but for sure model simulation is fully achieved.

Paolo Miola (Tibco)
He discussed the lessons learned from applying Tibco and bp reengineering to a large-scale bpm and bam scenario for Crédit Lyonnais (LCL) part of the Crédit Agricole Group (6,000 backoffice users and 60,000 documents managed daily).

  • First phase: application of BPM and BAM to the scenario
  • Second phase: applying rule-based dynamic job assignment based on workload, context and expertise of the various executors (geographically distributed)

 The objectives are:

  • process visibility: understanding and coding the processes
  • process governance and unified management
  • flexibility
  • resource optimization (in the example scenario: 75% of human resources were spared and reallocated to more core activities)

The next wave for Tibco is predictive behaviour of systems: the two-second advantage: “a little bit of information beforehand is more valuable than all of the information after the event”.

Ernesto Damiani (UniMi)
Interestingly enough, on a set of 200 companies in Lombardy, a lot claim the have or want to have BPM solutions and BPM capabilities, but then 60% of them declare a time-to-implementation of more than 6 months for any BP change (= no flexibility) and 80% declare that no measure of productivity improvement after bpm automation is monitored.
Furthermore, typically, IT division and CIOs have no role in BPM (not only at the modeling level, but also at the procurement and technical level for enactment of models). Effect is that IT performs only support activity to modeling, and costs are allocated to the IT division, while decision is driven by high management. 

5th MDA and Agile Modeling Forum, Milano, Sept 30, 2010 – Morning Session

I attended the 5th Model driven architecture and agile forum in Milano on September 30th.

Here are a few take away messages I got:

Richard Soley (Chairman and CEO of OMG): 

  1. If IT departments of large enterprises don’t change, they are doomed to end up cleaning the floor and changing light bulbs. Entire IT division role need to be reinvented. Basically CIO role shall become_ to automate the business processes throughout the company, and even better: to optimize the processes, more than just automate (otherwise: risk of commoditization). 
  2. Business Ecology Initiative: Green economy also means no redundant or inefficient processes. This and other communities of practice like: BPM/SOA, Green CIO, CyberSecurity, … are part of the current OMG strategy for sharing and exploiting experiences between companies.
  3. Models are going mainstream in the near future: “By 2013 graphical models in software will be used in more than 80% of new compositions” [Gartner]. And the purpose of standards is not to drive industry to a unique notation, but to make adaptation easier. 

Stephen White (the main editor of BPMN): 
BPMN is not able to bridge the gap between IT and business per se. However, it can combine with other languages, such as SoaML to solve the issue. Btw, this is in line with what we are doing now with WebRatio BPM: we integrate BPMN with WebML (and all its design dimensions) to address the gap and grant quick design and implementation.

Allen Brown (with The Open Group):  
TOGAF and MDA integration is crucial for making the first work and the second actually implemented in the enterprise. I see TOGAF as a rather heavyweight methodology (à-la ITIL).

Stephen Mellor (one of the fathers of MDA): 
You can be agile while developing with model driven methods, despite the agile critiques to MDA: i.e., that models don’t run, can’t be tested, are used just for documentation, require extra work and alignment. The criticism comes from a different understanding of the Model concept:

  • Models as sketches: you draw them and then throw them away
  • Models as blueprints: aim at directing and planning the implementation, under the assumption that construction is more costly than design
  • Executable models: they are not just models, they are intended as part of implementation and for verification. They are built under the assumption that construction is less costly than design.

Now with executable UML models (xtUML) you can describe your actions and perform them on the models.
Thus MDA and Agile can merge, thanks to model compilers and alternative techniques. Why does it happen now and not 20 years ago?

Claus Torp Jensen (with IBM):
The question is: what are we modeling? software systems or business solutions?
We need strategic synergies betweeen Business strategies, SOA, BPM, and EA. Each of them in isolation can produce incremental results only..
Architectural models and requirements must be contextual, collaborative, consumable (i.e., understandable) and connected in nature for being useful and integrated in the business strategy of the enterprise. How to get there?
Semantics of the EA plan is not the same of the one in the BPM tool. You need to understand where is your work located: at business level (BPM), at information system level (business dependent IT), or at technology level (business independent IT). Each of them has his own “tribe” of people and will have its own tools and models.
But remember that copying is evil, even at the enterprise planning level. You shall not copy, but only define and preserve links between the levels and the models.

Morning panel
The biggest difficulty for companies adopting BPM+SOA+EA is:

  • dealing with people habits and resilience to change (Soley)
  • accepting standards (White)
  • who to ask for guidance and training, and tools availability; communication between users, business lines, and other stakeholders (Brown)
  • definitely people (Mellor)
  • impatience of getting to the results (Jensen)

Software integrators will not disappear, but will need to change their activities basically to BPM integrators.
UML 3.0 will be out in 1.5 years or so. Now the working group is building the first draft.
If you don’t have a success measure for your BPM/SOA project, you are at risk of failure. Some KPIs must be defined and obviously must benchmark the processes before and after the project. BPMM (Business Process Maturity Model) can be used for that too.
About SOA, people tend to focus on reuse as the main advantage. But this is not the only aspect.
About standards: as anybody knows, they are not complete enough to grant interoperability of models or diagrams. You may choose to buy all the best of breed tools and make the integration yourself, or you can buy an integrated toolsuite and make the seller integrate it in your business.Standards are only the common denominator of all the producers, they cannot cover all the cases and scenarios.

Attendees to the event mainly included people from banking, software integration, (BPM and MDD) software producers, and consulting companies.