Notes from #IBMIMPACT

Post by
Scott Francis


There are a few sessions at IBM Impact for which I managed to capture some decent notes, but maybe not enough for a standalone blog post.? I thought I'd share here:

CUNA MUTUAL - Building a Business Case

CUNA Mutual's presentation was really well-delivered by Sean Perry of CUNA.? I took more notes in this session than I think I did in any other session I attended at Impact.? Sean's a good lively speaker and his talk was well-planned and delivered. He started with an introduction of who CUNA Mutual is, and who the BPM Competency Center is (which he runs), and how they fit into an overall BCI team.

The CUNA approach starts with the assessment - 3-5 week time-boxed effort to capture current and future business process, quantifiable business goals for improvements, and relatively confident estimates (80%).? Business, IT, and BPM teams come together to do these assessments.? It sounds like they're getting better at them over time, as well.

CUNA are big Blueworks Live users, finding it easy enough to use such that the business can manage it.? The graphical interface both enables and constraints users - constraining the useful sense of the word because in enforces certain standards in modeling which helps eliminate confusion - and also eases the transition to full BPMN.? They are also leveraging the quick data capture and collaboration features.? There were several questions from the audience about who's using it - sounds like pretty much everyone who is involved - 50 editors at least.

Building Better UI with Coach Views

In this session, we had a rare panel that featured an IBMer (John Reynolds) moderating for three competing ecosystem partners: BP3, Emericon, and Apex, but all contributing toolkits to improve the user interfaces of IBM BPM deployments from different perspectives.? One aspect that made it tricky is that the point was to talk about lessons learned building coach view toolkits and great UIs, but yet walking the tightrope of not over-selling the individual solutions and turning it into a sales pitch.

Since I'm biased about the content covered here, probably best that I don't comment on the specific content of each vendor, but rather just share overall impressions.? Each presenter effectively focused on making good user interfaces easier for BPM developers.? Each attempted to improve upon areas of perceived deficiencies in the IBM BPM product.? I was once again struck by the cordial nature of competitors in the space - recognition perhaps that there is enough work to do in the world of BPM, and the experts are comfortable in their expertise.

Also, there was a tough questioner in the audience who was pretty combative on the very idea of a third party toolkit on IBM BPM being a good thing.? Somehow he was trying to turn having a strong partner ecosystem into a bad thing instead of a good thing.? I guarantee other vendors wish they had a strong partner ecosystem like this, innovating on top of their platform.? And of course, all software benefits from other software.? No one is building the whole stack from silicon to assembly to compiler to code to product to extensions of product.? Everyone either builds on top of or allows others to build on top of their platforms.

More on that in another post.


ANICO's Vince Johnson told the story of their BPM journey, and how they finally achieved success, after several tries, with the help of a new commitment to the effort, a new product release from IBM (IBM BPM), and a new business partner, BP3.

The failures are like IT archetypes - rewrites without unique value add; outsource partners who failed to deliver; requirements missing the actual business needs; budget over runs.? But ANICO had the fortitude to stay focused and keep trying to alter the playing field to achieve the right results and re-earn the trust of the business.

First, they transitioned from waterfall to agile in their BPM group.? And that coincided with the second transition:? bringing BP3 into the picture as their BPM partner and the Brazos toolkit for UI.? But they also took on pairing their own IT members with BP3 consultants and gave them time to learn by working together.?? The patience required for this approach to ramping up on a new product is commendable.

In the final makeup, ANICO is self-sufficient for project delivery, relying only on BP Labs for providing a backstop of expertise for both environment and development support.

Growing an IBM BPM Team - Scaling it out

In this session, Mr. Parrott delivered quite a good talk about how to set up scalable technology for a large BPM team.? I was expecting it to be about the "team" but it was really about technology and process to support an ever larger BPM team.? His delivery style was fast and to the point, which made it entertaining.

What was missing from his presentation is what BP3 provides.? He talked about the need for a centralized team to identify:

  • Bad code
  • Infinite loops
  • memory leaks
  • excessive logging or debugging
  • snapshot interdependency confusion

It just so happens BP3's Neches process analysis suite addresses these types of issues.? Specifically there's a separate Neches tool for identifying the spiraling toolkit dependency problem. And Neches also can identify bad practices in code. I think it will be a must-have for the scalable IBM BPM team.

Smarter Process

Deepak Elias and Victor Chan presented this session.? Deepak gave a good talk with some mobile stats to motivate how mobile is going to impact Process.? Unfortunately, Victor's presentation was followed by a video demo that caused him to repeat the presentation as the video ran (just do one or the other, not both).? At the very end, they squeezed in mention of Brazos Portal (one slide) and a mention of their mobile solution centers being rolled out worldwide.? I know, I'm biased, and would have liked to see a demo or more time given to the portal, but it was great just to get a mention.





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