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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.

Netweaving, a few insights

art_and_heart_of_netweavingThe Atlanta Management Society put on a lunch seminar at the Emory Business School on Netweaving today. The inventor of the concept, Bob Littell, explained that if networking is about “What’s in it for me”, Netweaving is about “What can I do for you”. Thus it relies on reciprocity. Another key is introducing people to each other. He has encouraged Georgia State MBA students to read the Atlanta Business Chronicle and setup meetings between two news makers.

Two insights:

  • When in a networking situation, skip long spells of small-talk, initiate meaningful dialogue by asking questions such as, “What is the best business book you have read in the last few years, or what are the challenges and issues your industry is currently facing?” Small talk does not develop meaningful relationships.
  • Instead of just sending an email to a new contact saying “good to meet you” – send them a useful resource with your summary of the key takeaways.

If you are interested — there is the Netweaver skills assessment, and the Netweaver’s creed (pdf).