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First Look

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BPM Trainer Profile: Dr. Bruce Silver

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Note: Dr. Silver will respond to comments posted below.


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Dr. Silver will regularly respond to any comments posted below.

A recent survey of 146 companies Professor by Yvonne Antonucci of Widener University showed that a staggering 54% of respondents were planning on sending their employees to external BPM training -- but were unable to find appropriate training mainly because they did not know what training was needed.

And since a large number of our First Look listeners are also asking us about BPM training programs, we’re going to be talking to the creators of such programs over the next few weeks.

Leading off is Dr. Bruce Silver, a leading independent BPM industry analyst and author of the 2006 BPMS Report series, the blog BPMS Watch, and a regular column for the BPM Institute. He's also the author of two BPM training courses, one on BPM Tools and Technology, and a new one, Process Modeling with BPMN.

 Silver started by noting that his initial foray into user training was related to tools and technology for process execution and monitoring in BPM Suites, including workflow, integration middleware, business rules, and BAM.

“But I've discovered that most people getting into BPM are not yet ready for that,” he noted. “They're really trying to learn the basics. What is BPM? How do I do it? They're starting at the beginning. The first thing they want to do is to model their current or as-is process, analyze its shortcomings, and perhaps model improved to-be processes.

“The thing I've learned about training in general is that far more than the 'What is it?' part, users want to know 'How do I do it?'” Silver added.

 BPMN’s Training Advantages

Silver explained how his Process Modeling with BPMN course benefits from the BPMN stardard’s wide acceptance – and its compatibility with many inexpensive, and in some cases, totally free tools. That's a move away from proprietary tools that required users “to bet on a particular tool before they really understand what process modeling is, or how to do it,” Silver notes.

BPMN’s reflection of human workflow, its support for SOA and its ability to be used for everything from high-level process descriptions to performance analysis to process generation in BPEL are added advantages.

“So you have the situation here of a popular standard, with no vendor-provided methodology and training, no OMG-provided methodology, and -- on the surface at least -- it's more complicated than traditional modeling,” Silver said. “And users want to know how to do process modeling with it. That's the need we're trying to fill with the new training Process Modeling with BPMN.”

The course itself provides “ a methodology for how to organize your thinking about end-to-end processes, how to do top-down modeling using BPMN sub-processes, drilling down as needed to add detail, and then how to translate that thinking into the notation,” Silver said.

 Three Levels…

 The course shows how to use BPMN at three distinct levels:

  1. Descriptive modeling – “the kind most BPM consultants typically talk about -- high-level, not especially rigorous, but easy to communicate across the organization, linked with a methodology for how to do it,” Silver said.
  2. Analytic modeling that is “more detailed, showing all the steps, the exceptions, needed to either analyze process performance using simulation or create detailed requirements for an IT implementation,” Silver observed.
  3. Executable modeling, where BPMN can actually generate implementation code. “ This is really execution-language dependent, so the training focuses mostly on levels 1 and 2,” Silver noted.
...And Three Sections

In the training, users get a mix of theory and hands-on with the Process Modeler for Visio from ITP Commerce BPM tool.

“BPMN Essentials focuses on the subset of commonly used diagram elements and patterns to show the broad base of process modelers how to capture their as-is and describe improved to-be processes using a top-down how-to methodology,” Silver said.

“The second section, which we call BPMN Deep Dive, focuses on events and exception handling, the part that goes beyond traditional workflow and is admittedly harder for some business people to grasp,” Silver notes. “It's really not that hard, and you really need to model at this level in order to analyze your process performance or to use the model as a requirements document. “

The third section -- Simulation Analysis with BPMN -- talks about how to run your model through a simulation engine to analyze process performance. “That's not part of the BPMN spec, but it is a part of most process modeling tools, so we show you how to do it in 3 specific use cases -- cycle time improvement, optimizing resource utilization, and activity-based costing,” Silver said. 

Online, Flash and Certification

The courses are offered in Flash-based online formats; a two-day classroom version is also planned.

"The advantage of online/on-demand is convenience. You take the training from your own desktop at your own pace. It's organized into 15 Flash videos, totaling seven and half hours, which play through a browser. We also provide student notes in PDF,” Silver noted.

“Flash is great because in addition to the narrated slide show you can include screencams of using the tool, automated pauses to let the student complete exercises before showing the solution, and quizzes,” Silver added.

“There are also exercises you have to complete,” Silver said. “Some we give the answers to inline in the training. Others we don't, and you have to email them in to complete the certification requirements.”

“We think certification is important. This makes for a couple hoops to jump through, but we will publicize the list of certified students on the BPM Essentials Web site,” Silver said.

“We're offering certification at both the BPMN Essentials level and the BPMN Deep Dive level, so you don't have to go through all 15 parts to be certified.

Silver went on to detail other facets BPM training could encompass – and the prospects for a common curriculum and certification to both “raise the quality of BPM projects and make solid understanding of BPM a marketable skill in the corporate world,” he concluded.

Editor’s Note: For more information, listen to the entire podcast, visit BPMessentials.com, or send email to bruce at bpmessentials.com.



Interesting material here. I am in BPM service provision and agree that a lot of the industry trends are of the "feel-your-way" type. I am interested in online certification in a clear methodology and would appreciate any information you could provide.

Feedback from students reinforces the importance of hands-on with a tool and exercises to complement the online lectures. Exercises must be submitted for certification, and it often takes 2 tries to get them right. That has also been very helpful in improving the training, since it indicates which ideas students find the hardest, and where expanded explanations in the lectures would help. We're launching version 2 of the training in a 2-day classroom version in San Francisco June 20-21, in conjunction with the BPM Institute conference, with the online Flash version to follow shortly after. We've expanded the methodology and qualitative model analysis section, and introduced simulation earlier in the training... so quantifying the expected improvement is not just for true BPMN experts any more. If you are interested in this course, you can get more information here.
--Bruce Silver

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Krissi Danielson

Krissi Danielsson is a podcast producer with ebizQ and contributor to ebizQ's SaaSWeek site. View more

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