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Teaching Business Process Management with RunMyProcess

During my studies at Georgia State, I have had the privilege of developing and teaching courses on Business Process Management. When this comes up in conversation followed by blank stares. I typically explain it as model driven execution:
  1. Model your business process.  (like the one to right, created by one of “my” students)
  2. Press a button — code is generated –you have just created an application (and automated a process).

Sounds too good to be true right? Well, you do also have to create forms and route the data around. But, this is all fairly straight forward. It is important to note what is doing all the heavy lifting — what makes this all possible: the Business Process Management System (BPMS).

There are many BPMS systems available see: Gartner’s magic quadrant. We started using TIBCO, which is a fantastic product, but proved too taxing on student (budget) laptops. Then we used a lightweight product called BizAgi, which has a fantastic modeler and a great backend BPMS system which we deployed on AWS. Recently, I have been fascinated by RunMyProcess a BPMS which runs entirely in the cloud. Here are some of its advantages from my perspective:

  • No install necessary (a huge plus for students)
  • Integrates with any webservice. Want to send text messages, send invoices, read or store information into a database of google spreadsheet, call someone with a pre-recorded statement, check exchange rates, the weather, or micro-outsource some work to mechanical turk as part of your process? No problem, there are thousands of connectors to fabulous RESTful webservices waiting for you(e.g. Twilio, Zoho, Google Spreadsheets, Freshbooks, mTurk).
  • Email just works. Setting up email notifications can be a hassle on other BPMS systems when you have them hosted yourself. RMP also has email receptors (i.e. start a process by sending an email to a specific email address… nifty).
  • No hosting required.

I was showing this system at a recent conference and a chief scientist at Google described it as Mash-ups (or MashApps) for the enterprise. Like other BPMS systems you also get the Business Intelligence insight through process monitoring and measuring tools. There are similar platforms-as-a-service out there, but it has been very rewarding to see many light bulbs turn on as students catch the vision that BPM purports. This usually starts to happen when they design a process which sends themselves a text (SMS) message with stock exchange rates, or a customized haiku poem written by turkers.

zotero 1.5beta released today

zotero_logo1Managing citations well can save you loads of time. I do this with Zotero. It is free for everyone, open source, and always getting better. It has a great community of users including one who created a very useful python script to rename PDF files.

A new version came out today, which allows you to backup your precious database to their servers for free, and follow other researchers (akin to twitter). If you want to see my library, request to follow me. In the mean time, check out the main developers library.

One of my favorite things about zotero is that is standards compliant. It makes use of the COinS standard. More on this later. Good descriptions on what else is new, here and here.

What citation manager do you use? Use Zotero? Give a shout out…

Gmail goes offline

gmailInstead of having multiple email accounts, I have everything forwarded to gmail where I have it rigorously sorted through hundereds of filters and labels. I am currently using 5432 MB or 74% of my alloted space. 

I must have been snoozing because offline gmail came out a few weeks ago and I missed it. This should be extremely useful. There has even been a new release already.

Many people are unaware that you can add dots to your gmail adddress. Instead of putting [email protected] I could put [email protected], and it would still get to me. I can give online stores my [email protected] address, and then filter out those messages if I wish.

Requirements Engineering Design Model

Designing software and websites is not at all like designing a building or city planning. This model is quite useful to help understand the process. I found this preparing for class.

[caption id="attachment_69" align="aligncenter" width="475" caption="Requirements Engineering Design Model"]Requirements Engineering Design Model[/caption]

Here is a summary of the model from the article:

Summary: Requirements engineering is an iterative exercise; often, the purpose of going through the exercise is to define the problem itself, and in the process, refine requirements. That is, an initially fuzzy requirement gets clarified through discussion, leading to other, more specific requirements. While the model has been motivated by requirements engineering, its components are generic enough to be applicable across various phases of the life cycle.

The model is from Ramesh and Dhar 1992
, based on the IBIS model by Kunz and Rittel. References below.

Kunz, W., & Rittel, H. W. J. (1970). Issues as Elements of Information Systems. Institute of Urban & Regional Development, University of California.

Ramesh, B., & Dhar, V. (1992). Supporting systems development by capturing deliberations during requirements engineering. Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on, 18(6), 498-510. doi: 10.1109/32.142872.

Foxit Reader 3.0 Released: It is better than Acrobat Reader

Why Foxit Reader 3.0 is better than Adobe Acrobat for reading PDFs

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