Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Open Source BPM (aka Workflow)
I received an email from Ishmael the CEO of Intalio annoucing the release of their Zero Code Open Source BPMS solution. And though I don't know all that much about this particular product it is I think very illustrative of a couple of things.
Firstly, just how far workflow and business process solutions have come over the past 10 years. For when I joined Ovum my role was to cover Document Management & Workflow - the two things were seen as entwined then, yet even at that time workflow promised much and delivered short. The rename (for I still believe that is what it is) of workflow to BPM in some ways did a disservice to the technology.
(Workflow states very clearly that you follow a series of finite tasks to produce something. Business Process is much more nebulous and over arching as a term.)
Nevertheless the software has moved on and to look at what Intalio does in OpenSource is impressive viewing indeed. This kind of technology was available to those with only the deepest pockets just a few years ago.
The other thing that I thought about is how little has changed (seems to be a theme of this blog) - despite the BPMI's development of BPMN - business analysts still prefer to use Visio. I was personally an adherent of the Scheer toolset when I did business analysis, and wonder at times if the Aris Toolset was OS'd if it wouldn't dominate the business analysis world? But it isn't...so its and academic question.
The biggest problem with workflow and BPM is knowing how to understand and design an effective process. Its a skillset that is seldom taught properly, and the tools to help support the same are yet to be fully developed......
So BPM (or good old workflow) remains the bridesmaid and never the bride - I have never doubted that this is the area of technology that really needs a breakthrough, a (P word coming up) paradigm shift for it to really suceed.
I wish Intalio luck, I think its great that such Open Source products are available - (and put this in the same impressive category as Nuxeo and Alfresco).