Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Especially for people performing knowledge work, it means it becomes harder to sift through vast amounts of information sources and share the right information with the appropriate people. It's not only time consuming, it's also risky. Tweets, Google+, Facebook, Blogs and Press articles are abundant and have typically a low signal-to-noise ratio. On top of that employees have to keep track of what's happening in their CRM, document management and many other enterprise systems. This means a greater exposure to loads of data that becomes on average less relevant. Procrastination never had an easier job looking for susceptible victims.
A case management solution is a fancy word for a system to share and discuss important topics in an business environment. It's function is to bring people together on topics like eg introducing a new sales strategy or an important customer that may cancel a big order. A case is the most efficient instrument to share related documents, links and tasks for topics like that. In other words, a case is a social collaboration space for a specific topic.
To some extend, the scope of a case could be compared with an email discussion thread. Before you bring it on, let me explain why that is a problem. Email is ubiquitous and serves its purpose as the least common denominator for communication. But using email has major drawbacks when used as the tool of collaboration. First, you have to assume that people always hit Reply-All. Reading a conversation where some people answer inline, some answer on top and some at the bottom is a challenge to say the least. Searching the latest version of an attachment in a conversation is hard and error prone. Involving someone later in an email discussion is hopeless as not everyone includes the whole discussion thread.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying cases should replace email threads. People will continue to leverage email as a unified inbox for the foreseeable future. But cases provide a much better structure for information that is currently buried in the emails themselves. I think we will see a shift towards email being the unified notification inbox and the content will be stored in dedicated systems like case management systems.
For organizations larger then 10 people, it's a matter of professionalism to equip employees with a case management system. It's the way to share relevant information in chaotic world with loads of noise and only a bit of signal. People will be better informed and collaborating becomes simpler. These improvements in the internal organization already justify adopting a case management system. The bonus comes from collaborations with external business partners like prospects, clients and suppliers. The advantages are just the same in this situation, and on top you show a professional approach to doing business.
Regrettably, not all solutions use the term case for this concept. Some solutions call it a task and others invent a new name. But it should be clear that every organization deserves a solution for social collaboration and case management is a crucial aspect of that.
Friday, 5 April 2013
In The Zero Code Hypothesis, Scott Francis observes the contrast between 2 trends in BPM right now. On the one hand there is Camunda explicitly saying the zero coding ambition is broken. Scott comments:
It is kind of a fascinating counter-point to the movement to make BPM “more accessible” to the business, and I think it represents a pretty sizable chunk of the open source market that is in strong agreement.On the other hand, there is the trend to further simplify process design for non-technical people. Several BPM vendors concluded that BPMN is too complex for simple processes and started experimenting with process builders for people that don’t know BPMN.
Key passages from their presentation included “Enabling people who normally couldn’t do BPM or BPMN”. BPMN was described as the invisible hand surrounded by UI.Scott concludes that this is a contrast:
And to think that these sessions were all on day 1 of the same conference – totally different hypotheses on how to approach BPM and BPMN.
BPM always has been about automating people tasks and combining those with technical system integration steps. As such, BPM serves 1) non-technical business people that work out concrete steps how the organization should accomplish larger goals. And 2) technical people weaving in the automatic steps and integration with other systems.
At Effektif, we take those two stakeholders as the starting point, and both types of users must get a tailored user experience.
In my opinion, it only takes a well-aimed Fruit Ninja move from the vendors to slice BPM so that both stakeholders are served well. Meaning, with the right approach both business people and technical people can be served properly.
Slicing BPM becomes obvious if you consider all people related aspects separate from the technical aspects. All people aspects in a process can be configured by non-technical business people. Things like sending simple notification emails and filling out a form to complete a task don’t require technical knowledge. By default, all processes should have the ability to attach documents, links and have a discussion. With these capabilities, non technical people can already build a broad range of useful processes that don't require technical integrations.
Fruit Ninja precision is required to resist the temptation of adding small technical aspects that enable the next interesting feature. I believe that is where traditional BPM vendors fail miserably. In order to keep simplicity, a BPM system must cut out rigorous any technical aspect from business person’s user experience.
That slicing between technical and non-technical aspects is applied rigorously throughout the Effektif product. It ensures a superior user experience for the non technical managers automating people processes.
Thursday, 14 March 2013
More recently I got an Audible subscription and really enjoyed these books
The 7 habits of highly effective people, by Stephen R. Covey
This should be a mandatory book in high school. Even if you think you're socially skilled, this book will show you whole new dimensions of listening to people and taking a constructive approach in communication. It's actually this title that inspired me to name my new startup effektif.com.
In the plex, by Steven Levy
This is a very inspiring story with loads of cool anecdotes. You get a peek inside Google when it was booming. It shows that by taking an overdose of ambition, you can look from a different angle at problems then most people do. The ambition that sparks out of the book works really contagious. It made me believe I could actually start a booming business of my own :)
The lean startup, by Eric Ries
A classic by now and a must read for everyone that thinks of founding a startup. After the inspiring 'In the plex' that made me dream, this was the perfect counterweight that put my feet back on the ground. It explains that most startups fail and provides a very practical approach to maximizing chances of success.
Getting things done, by David Allen
Confession: For this book I actually read the paper version. After my studies, this is one of the only books I've managed to read completely since then. And that's intended as a complement to the book :) It's a practical guide on how typical knowledge workers can reduce stress and get more done. This book is related to the concept of inbox zero. If you are struggling with your inbox, go and read or listen to this book.
What great podcasts or books do you recommend?
Friday, 21 September 2012
This morning, we moved the Activiti source code to Github. This move was long overdue and it's going to simplify working with the codebase a lot for all involved.
To learn more including pointers about pull requests, check out Joram's blog post about it.
Friday, 10 August 2012
- Serious performance improvements: See Joram's blog The Activiti performance showdown for the amazing details
- Tijs' book Activiti in Action published by Manning came out!
- Added support voor bpmn message start event
- Added capability for clients to validate a user's rights to start a process
- Added support for nested sub-processes and embedded subprocesses in designer
- Added support for catching intermediate and boundary message events
- Bug fixes and various smaller improvements. Check out the Release notes for more details
Thursday, 1 March 2012
- Support for Exclusive Jobs and Plugability of the Job Executor Infrastructure
- Persistent event subscriptions (infrastructure)
- Intermediate signal throw / catch
- Event based gateway
- BPMN transaction (cancel end event & cancel boundary event)
- BPMN compensation (compensation catch & compensation throw)
- Interrupting error event subprocesses
- (Multiple) message start events
- Various bug fixes
Thursday, 20 October 2011
- Asynchronous continations (tech preview)
- Added BPMN inclusive gateway
- Improved Spring support
- CDI integration improvements
- Bug fixes
Monday, 10 October 2011
Friday, 7 October 2011
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
We're proud on this result. A celebration is in place here: Kudo's to all contributors! And special thanks to the Vaadin team for supporting us with the new Explorer.
Download it from the Activiti website.
And participate in the forums.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
The [Taylor] idea is that by driving our workers to follow optimal business processes we can ensure that we minimise costs while improving quality.
Departmental applications were first deployed to automate small repudiative tasks, such as tracking stock levels or calculating payrolls. Then we looked at the interactions between these tasks, giving birth to enterprise software in the process. Business Process Management (BPM) is the pinnacle of our efforts...
There has been some half steps in the right direction, with the emergence of Adaptive Case Management (ACM)I think this trend is becoming clear by now, but it's Peter's post that made me think of an important potential reason for this: The democratization of information. Where in the past (read more then 10 years ago) only managers are informed and needed to break goals into tasks, now a lot more information has become freely accessible in organisations so that average workers become better informed and can make better decisions.
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
- Added direct Mule and Camel integration
- Easier way to retrieve businessKey from task listeners
- Improved support for Alfresco processes
- Added support for delegateExpressions in tasklistener
- Added support for BPMN multi instance in the eclipse designer
- Extended length of all user defined text columns to 4000
- See the full release notes
Monday, 2 May 2011
- Added CDI support (Congrats to Camunda for this contribution!)
- Added dynamic sub task capabilities
- Added support for event/activity streams
- Tiese Barrell added support for default value for CustomServiceTask fields in the eclipse process designer
- Simplified persistence
- Performance improvements
- Bug fixes
Saturday, 30 April 2011
The biggest issue here is offline use. If you can live with online all the time, then this won't be a problem, but you need offline you'll need to explore the various local storage options.
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Tijs will continue to lead the Activiti Designer, an Eclipse plugin for authoring BPMN 2.0 processes. He will also be involved in architecting and building out the process capabilities to make Activiti the #1 platform for case and process management on the cloud.