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How often is that you find game reviews in the SCN Blogosphere? Probably never.  The main reason being that most people feel that our usual subject material (ABAP, SAP technology, etc) is serious stuff and not connected in any way with play or fun (although there are, on occasion, “ranting” blogs that bring some element of humor into the SCN).

Lately, I’ve been spending time in the BPM-related communities from other vendors (IBM, etc) to get a feeling of what sort of features these other environments offer. During my explorations of the IBM BPM community, I discovered an online game that allows users to act as a Business Process Expert (BPX) and solve various problems that organizations (cities, corporations, etc.) might face.

The Game

There are three various scenarios offered by this “educational” game:

  • Smarter Traffic — Evaluate existing traffic patterns and re-route traffic based on incoming metrics.
  • Smarter Customer Service — Using a call center environment, players develop more efficient ways to respond to customers.
  • Smarter Supply Chains — Evaluate a traditional supply chain model, balance supply and demand and reduce environmental impact.

The KPIs from the scenarios are also usually linked to sustainability issues which provide another important touch of realism and topicality

The user takes the role of a BPX and must go through the various phases of a process improvement project to solve a problem. These phases are associated with typical phases as seen in the BPM methodology as described by SAP – although in a more simplistic manner.

Gaining Background material on the Problem or Calibration

The user is shown a video describing the problem.

Analysis of Business Requirements

The user interacts with various users in the process to gain more information. The problems associated with the AS-IS process are depicted.

Process design

The user is provided with a modeling tool where difference process options are proposed. Via arrows, various options can be selected.  Of course, the modeling tool is primitive and not BPMN 2.0-based but it shows how the BPX works – sifting through various options when adapting a process.  

Although the game is associated with IBM’s SOA product palette, there are no Enterprise Services directly involved in process design (I don’t think anyone could view the difficult procedure of finding the correct service as fun!)

In my opinion, the idea of providing users (business users rather than process analysts) with preselected process patterns from which to select is also an interesting UI concept that should be present in future BPM products.

Selection of Business rules

Users are then asked to set the business rules that feed the process. 

 

Is Simulation a Fake Feature?

The simulation feature allows users to compare results based on the selection of business rules to the process’ predetermined KPIs.

Users are also confronted with the reactions of those involved in the process.

Deployment

Finally, users can deploy their proposed solution and see the “real-life” results of their decisions.

Conclusion

For those of us who are often faced with the question “what do you really do at work”, I’d direct people to this game. Of course, it doesn’t embrace the true complexity of a BPX’s work but it gives some indication of how we view the world and what our work entails.

Hand on heart – how may of you don’t enjoy playing a good computer game once in a while.  If you are interested in becoming a BPX or would like to compete against other BPXs – yes, there are high scores! -, take a look.

Another advantage of this game is that you can play it at work without having a guilty conscience – after all, it is work-related.  

Recently, SAP opened its new online education center – Learning on Demand  with a multitude of courses available. In this context, I’d like to see more courses available that are game-like. Obviously, such offerings are much more difficult to create than slide-based classes. However, the willingness of students to participate in such “classes” would probably increase dramatically.  Add an online component where students could work together and you have a collaborative environment that is educational and fun.  

After playing this game, I realized that often the work of a BPX is more like a game than most of us are willing to admit.  Of course, we want to avoid people thinking that the work of the BPX is just a game but the ability to show that our work is often fun would definitely lead to an increase in the number of individuals interested in this career path.

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7 Comments

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      1. Vijay Vijayasankar
        yeah me too 🙂 btw, we don’t have to wear ties/suits any more for daily business. As the pamphlet for recruitment says, “it is a cooler shade of blue than you think”.

        On the game itself – it is pretty cool, and a nice introduction to the world of BPX. I passed on your blog to my colleagues and managers at IBM.

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  1. Kevin Harmon-Smith
    Great post Richard.
    I use a tool called Simul8 (http://www.simul8.com/) in Blueprint Process workshops which although can be regarded as a bit of a distraction from endless PowerPoints it really does cement the process understanding and highlight areas for improvement. There are also other ERP sims (e.g. http://www.erpsim.net) and SAP have also produced a few over the years.
    I think it would be great if we had an area dealing specifically with simulation “games” er.. I really mean “tools!”
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    1. Richard Hirsch Post author
      I also agree that simulation is very important in order that process designers or other application designers get a better feeling for the impact that their actions have.

      If such simulations could take the form of “games”, more people might make use of such functionality.

      D.

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