Signavio Benelux BPM Meetup 2016

19th of September 2016

Thursday 8th of September was a sunny day in Antwerp, and also hailed the first Benelux BPM Meetup of Signavio. Held at the business lounge of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, some 30 participants arrived to listen to 4 talks on how Signavio sees the BPM world. And as you might surmise, I was one of the attendees with a keen interest in how the Signavio modeling tool would portray itself throughout the presentations.

The agenda consisted of one interactive session lead by Signavio’s Tinne Vanhoof, and three talks about varying topics, which you can read in this detailed view. In all the topics were interestingly chosen, but due to time constraints they only glanced the surface of what could have been discussed. As each of them only took around 20 minutes, they felt a bit rushed, and each of them could have easily entertained and kept the attention of the crowd for a more extended period. Now, they were just showcases lacking the depth they could have (and should have) had. But I didn’t feel I was wasting my time, as they do give a starting point for discussion afterwards at the networking part of the event.

Starting of the with the interactive session, this was part Signavio marketing, part brainstorming or checking compatibility in how the various attendees saw a possible definition of the Business Process Management discipline. As expected, the views were varied and a bit more process documentation oriented than I would like, but as I wrote in my review of Keith Swenson’s 2015 book: Ask a hundred experts to come up with a definition for the discipline together, and a compromise of some complexity will emerge, not necessarily to any one individual’s liking. As for the marketing part, I did like how they tried to work around Simon Sinek’s golden circle of WHY-WHAT-HOW. I have always felt partial to this marketing approach myself. Add to the mix a few whimsical elements, such as the coaster, and you can't go wrong.

The first presentation was by Véronique Geerts of Cegeka, who in the tradition of Toyota Quality Systems restructured her company by charting all processes and developing a methodology for doing so. This methodology then became a product for them to sell to customers wanting the same exercise. Although commendable, it was stated to be more than just getting an ISO 9001 certification, but still focused primarily on documentation with just a hint of evangelization throughout the company. It remained unclear to me how they would follow up on this documentation exercise and really make work of monitoring and improving the processes.

Next at the agenda is Professor Koen Vanhoof with a presentation on how data can fuel a decision management effort. Based on the Gartner division of analytics (see illustration below) he indicates that with each progressive use of data in analytics, the amount of human input is reduced and the role for decision management increases. This is the talk of which I felt could have benefitted the most of an extended time. The use of decision management would be the hook. The Professor then goes over a few customer cases where a more formal approach to decision management modeling (more specifically DMN) could have helped. This is the line. However, the sinker would be to go into those cases and show how they would become more efficient of qualitative, and that just wasn’t on the agenda.

Last talk of the day was Tom Baeyens of jBPM fame whose latest brainchild, Effektif, has been recently bought by Signavio and rebranded Signavio Workflow. More of a demo of this new feature, Tom showed us how quickly process automation could be executed. Setting up a quick onboarding process with a registry form, an email alert, and a manager confirmation took no more than the allotted 10 minutes. I didn’t however get the feeling yet that this new feature was integrated with the rest of the Signavio tools yet, as I would expect from a tool suite. Tom did introduce a new type of BPMS next to the designer and developer BPMS which he dubbed Cloud Workflow. I am still mulling over whether I want to follow this reasoning for a new type.

All in all the talks were entertaining and did trigger me to dive more into the Signavio toolset, so for the organizer it was a successful event. I will attend anew next year if possible, and can only advise other BPM consultants to do the same. More content depth could have been had, but I certainly did not experience the afternoon as a futile waste, but rather an event on the rise in importance and content. Hope to see you all there next year.

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