Note: This blog is full of ideas and includes some assumptions that might be incorrect. My intention is describe what I see as a functional gap and have this blog act as starting point for further discussions in this area.
Recently I’ve been exploring in my series of blogs about Social BPM: A Taxonomy + The Playing Field various other BPM-related communities. On my “travels”, I’ve found some interesting ideas that might also be suitable for the SCN space.
One of the most interesting ideas was from IBM BlueWorks where users can take an individual process (usually an industry standard) “out for a test-drive” via the TryMe functionality.
This is how IBM describes this functionality:
Even better, IBM is populating BlueWorks with prebuilt models and maps, much of it industry-specific, taken from vertical industry standards like eTom and from IBM’s own industry frameworks. Again, all free. You can customize and reuse them within your private space in BlueWorks. So you can align your strategy, goals, and metrics with industry standard capabilities and process maps. This places your process models not only within the enterprise context but within the context of vertical industry standards.
This functionality isn’t new – there are examples of it in other environments as well.
GoogleWave has the same functionality in its SampleGallery with its LiveDemo feature.
SalesForce AppEx has similar functionality via its “TestDrive” functionality.
I started to think about whether something similar could be available in the SAP ecosystem. Obviously, the logical location for such functionality would be in the EcoHub where certified partner solutions are offered.
So, I started to think about the requirements that would be necessary for such a move:
Include Processes on the EcoHub
I returned to the EcoHub recently after a hiatus and was pleased to see that the number of offered solutions has increased. I was also surprised to see that the selection has expanded beyond solutions / products to include smaller components (such Google Gadgets for Manufacturing) as well.
If it is now possible to include individual Google Gadgets, my idea would be to include processes as well. You could search for a particular process based on subject area.
Cloud-based Deployment Locations
If you look at all three examples presented at the beginning of this blog, you will notice that all deploy their objects (applications, processes, robots, etc) to cloud-based environments. One reason for the success of such environments is multi-tenant cloud-based systems where users can test such functionality in their own environment – with their own data. Such rapid trials in actual environments are more useful than watching screencams for customers to really see if a process meets their needs or not.
What sort of environment might be useful for our EcoHub-related idea? I have three suggestions.
- The first possibility is a test environment (IDES-like) for individuals who are not currently BusinesByDesign customers. In this environment, the users could examine the process in detail and perhaps test it using fake data.
- The second possibility is a test environment for individuals who are currently BusinesByDesign customers. In this environment, the users could examine the process in detail and test it out using their own data. Of course, this would probably be a quality or development system rather than a productive environment.
- The final environment might be a CE 7.1 / 7.2 system that runs in the cloud – either with test data from SAP or actual test data from the customer.
Of course, the assumption for all three environments is that the prerequisites are checked during the deployment process – or even better before – to assure that the selected environment fits the process in question.
But what about the necessary configurations (user roles, back-end systems, etc) that are mandatory to get the process to work correctly. I’m not saying that the processes are immediately functional – that they run out-of-the-box – just that their configuration shouldn’t require a 5-week consulting project. That is why processes might be an excellent first choice with such test-drivable content on EcoHub. Complete solutions might require much longer to configure. You want to give users the immediate satisfaction of experiencing the content.
But once the process is installed on a customer machine, the involved software vendor loses control over the software. One idea here is perhaps to just allow installations on BusinessByDesign environments with test data. Another solution might be include a time-based license.
But these individual processes would also have to be certified by SAP. Inasmuch as I don’t think there is currently SAP certification for processes, this is a problem that would have to be rectified
There are definitely other “buts” that are present but these deeper explorations are perhaps more appropriate for the personal discussions on this topics that I hope will take place at this year’s upcoming TechEds.
Obviously, EcoHub is still evolving. I’ve found the ability to “test-drive” processes and Google Wave components to be an excellent choice to jump-start my excursions in these areas and I think it would be exciting to have a similar functionality in the EcoHub.