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Introduction

After almost one year of collaborative work, the first complete version of the first pilot of the Community Project has been concluded.  Based on a fictitious company “Big Machines”,  this pilot tells the story of a process improvement project (dealing with spare parts) from the initial contact between the Process Owner and the BPX all the way to the final presentation of the Guided Procedure process (with Visual Composer forms) based on actual SAP Enterprise Services from the ES Workplace.  

A Caveat: We didn’t implement the entire process with Visual Composer and Guided Procedures but just picked two steps in this process to illustrate how these tools fit into such process improvement projects.

The wiki-based approached focuses not only on the project deliverables (swim lane diagrams, UI mock-ups, etc) but much more on the interaction between those individuals involved in the project.  We had over 10 different characters, each representing a different role in a process improvement project, who were involved at different times in the scripts.

Discussions ranged from the usage of KPIs to the effect of organizational change to lessons on modeling swim lanes and selecting the correct enterprise services to Visual Composer composition for BPXs.  Our story follows all these different paths to give the low-down on how participants in such projects really deal with the problems that such projects often entail.

History

Originally (in February 2007), Marilyn Pratt wanted to find a way to demonstrate what process improvement projects (especially those that used Enterprise SOA technology) really looked like: She said in the first email “This is where rubber meets the road…real examples…real scenarios…real collaboration.” To deal with this challenge, we decided to get a group of interested BPX and SDN members together to collaborate on achieving this goal.

The decision was soon made to move to the wiki and the Community Project was born. Those involved in the pilot varied over time and the level of collaboration varied as well – some contributing more and some less.  But of course, all ideas and support was welcome and assured that the project progressed accordingly.

Facts

  • The first wiki page in the Community Pilot was created by Mario Herger on March 5, 2007.
  • There were four possible processes contributed to the selection process. Finally, the one from Owen Pettiford dealing with spare parts was selected to the basis for the first pilot.
  • There was one presentation abut the Community Project at the TechEd in Munich (2007) and two presentation planned for the ASUG / Sapphire (USA) in 2008
  • The Community Project is a very interesting example of the practical usage of Web 2.0 and E2E: Enterprise SOA in Enterprise 2.0 environments technology in the context of process improvement projects. It shows the challenges – and on occasion the workarounds – associated with the use of this technology (especially wikis) in corporate environments.
  • There were more than 11 Community members actively involved at different points in the Community Project. The main participants in this first pilot were:

Bleijenbergh, Sander

Uphantis

Broek, Twan van den

TopForce

Brugman, Jasper

Uphantis

Butenschøn, Hans

Gyldendal

Cuijk, Edward van

Uphantis

Hall, Christina

SAP

Hirsch, Dick

Siemens SIS

Iyengar, Kartik

Wipro

Pettiford, Owen

CompriseIT

Pratt  Marilyn

SAP

Razvi, Nadim

SAP

 

  • There were 14 blogs written about the Community Project
  • There were 2 podcasts created dealing with the Community Project.

Project Plan

The initial pilot was structured loosely on the CAF Methodology but with additional points that reflected the project experience of those collaborating on the project.

Scripts

A script is a conversation between one or more roles in a project / pilot. Usually, the conversations revolve around a decision that must made. For example, one script may concern a decision regarding which decision tool to use or which design methodology. Thus, each pilot will have one or more scripts that are associated with it. There will also be scripts that exist independent of a particular pilot. Script writers can base their scripts on their real-life experiences or base them on imaginary conversations.

We used Instant Messaging to capture our conversations and turn them into scripts in the wiki.

^

(We haven’t done a video blog or a podcast based on a script but this definitely planned for the future)

There were 22 scripts that were created to capture project interactions.

A Caveat: The conversations in our scripts represent different types of interactions in such a project. Although in a real project a BPX might have multiple conversations with a process expert dealing with the mock-ups of the User Interface, we only have one such conversation to illustrate how such interactions take place.

 

Navigation between scripts

To navigate between scripts, please use the “minus” and “plus” icons to move to the previous and the next script.

Gliffy

The Gliffy Plug-in for the wiki, which enables the creation of vision-like diagrams in the wiki, was used extensively in the Community Project.

Unfortunately, this plug-in does not yet have the ability to create BPMN drawings, so other modeling methodologies were used.

A Note: If you were to read all 22 scripts (which I hope you do!), you may discover that certain inconsistencies exist. Individuals in the scripts may change their attitude / character between scripts. This is planned and is based on the fact that different community members played different roles in different scripts. Someone may have been the BPX in one script and a process expert in the next script. That was one of the advantages of this type of collaboration; participants could experience typical project situations from different perspectives.

Another Note on the use of Enterprise Services: Someone might challenge our use of the “Quality Issue Notification Business” Object and its associated enterprise services. We selected this business object, because we found that that it most closely fit the requirements of our scenario. Others might suggest that other business objects are more appropriate.  We selected this business object based on our -at the time of script creation- rather limited knowledge of the process involved in finding the correct ES. Once we had made our selection, we decided to stick with it. We decided to restrict our initial implementation to a single business object. Its use and the complications involved in creation of a collaborative environment for the development work led to the decision that the use of multiple business objects would be pursued in later pilots when our experience in this matter had improved and we had an ideal development environment.

Lessons Learned

We have documented our lessons learned in the wiki.  There are some new ideas that have occurred based on my recent experience with Visual Composer and Guided Procedures (CE version!).

  • The transition between UI mock-ups in the wiki and Visual Composer was difficult and had to be performed manually via cut-and-paste.
  • The use of service components in Visual Composer is critical for BPXs to understand inasmuch as this allows an effective hand-off between BPX and developer in this environment and should be based on service prototyping.
  • Don’t forget to define “in” and “out” parameters in Visual Composer for those elements that should be used in Guided Procedures. This might be a deliverable or part of some diagram – maybe in the first general screen flow.

Conclusion

Although the first version of the first pilot is finished, this does not mean that the Community Project is over. The first pilot will continued to be developed and further aspects of this scenario will be explored. However, the main focus is going to be on the next pilot which is currently being defined.  If you are interested in working with us, then please contact us or see at the Sapphire 2008 in Orlando where we talking about the Community Project.

Expect some more exciting news about the Community Project soon.

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7 Comments

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  1. Dagfinn Parnas
    Just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading through the scripts.

    PS Ernie looks like the Frankenstein monster (even has the metal plugs in his neck) 🙂

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  2. Ranjan Baghel
    It’s great to see such a massive collective effort to depict a pseudo-project’s process improvements.

    I especially like the idea that community members took on different characters while writing the scripts. It gives a cool spin on developing roles with scripts, almost like seeing things from someone else’s shoes.

    Nicely done!

    Ranjan

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  3. Mark Yolton
    Dick and team:

    I’m impressed by the depth, scope, and duration of this project, and by the richness of the outputs (documents, process flows, scripts…) from the global team. 

    Also great work with the available tools (wiki, gliffy, visual composer, ES Workplace…). 

    In a word: Extraordinary. 

    Congratulations to the team that worked on this. 

    I expect that many, many others who didn’t participate directly will benefit from your work… but that you will benefit the most from the experience of collaborating. 

    Thanks and regards,

    Mark Yolton

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  4. Mark Finnern
    Hi Dick and Co,

    Really love the approach and the implementation. All kinds of Web 2.0 elements as well as good old story telling woven into it.

    I even corrected a little table, isn’t wiki great, and now feel happy, as I did a tiny part in this great project too. 

    I should come back and do it more often. Highly recommended, Mark.

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    1. Marilyn Pratt
      Mark made an excellent point and it maps exactly to something I was reading today.  If each member of the community were to pick up the challenge to enter one tiny little improvement in one page of one script of the wiki, it would go a long way to creating a feeling of ownership and wiki interaction.  I just happened to read this wiki encouragement entry today: Getting others to contribute to the wiki .  That soft step, that tiny little actionable piece of participation could help many of those folks who would like to be part of the collaboration get over the “I’m only a lurker” barrier.
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  5. Amir Rubin
    Amazing to see how what started as an idea to use Visual Composer just a few months ago turned into reality so quickly.

    Looking forward to see how the project develops in the future!!

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