BPM, The Future And You

by Anurag Gupta, Collaboration Practice Leader

SDG Business Process Improvement

Effective BPM aligns IT and business in a highly productive manner. This, in turn, pays off in faster development and better implementation of solutions. Ultimately this makes for a more responsive organization.

Automating Is Sometimes Faster With A BPM Tool

In some cases, BPM can accelerate the automation process, although this is not its purpose. Because processes evolve continually, it is important to have the ability to make rapid changes. Those seeking rapid process automation might be better served with a focused software solution. BPM is for those who anticipate rapid, frequent, ongoing changes.

The Truth About BPMN Standards

With so many standards, acronyms and buzzwords, IT can seem like a jungle. But make sure you always make decisions based on the right criteria. Capability, flexibility and simplicity are most important—not by the version of BPMN supported. Even well-known J2EE will not work on all web-servers.

Do you need a perfectly defined process, yet?

Experts frequently stress process definition and standardization. But remember, well-implemented BPM can bring speed and flexibility to any process.  Often it is better to define a sub-set process and then implement. Processes can always be improved later via BPM.

BPM Does Not Make IT Redundant

BPM can make it easy for business users to modify and even implement processes, sometimes without IT.  However managing, monitoring and optimizing the BPM environment still requires IT. For example, IT can help choose the most efficient of varying ways to implement a solution. IT delivers know-how, and strategies to utilize BPM more effectively.

BPM Is Here To Stay

The key word in BPM is “Management.” Of course, management involves elements of planning, organizing, execution, monitoring, and control. While a new name or label may emerge, management will remain the key to the process. Dynamic organizations will have rapid evolution and faster changes in their business processes. BPM—by any name—assures that they will answer the challenge of change and while maximizing future opportunity.

 

An Early Healthcare.gov Post-Mortem: The Case for Quality Assurance and Testing

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by Ajay Gupta, President & CEO

Remove the veil of politics and the finger pointing. At the end of the day, Healthcare.gov is a large implementation of enterprise software.

President Obama said in his October 22, Rose Garden address that more than 20 million people had visited Healthcare.gov. There are dozens of examples of much larger websites that have far more transactions and higher traffic. The day after Christmas in 2012, Amazon had 25 million visitors and Wal-Mart had 8 million, both without a hitch.  At this early post-mortem, there is not enough data to postulate root cause(s) of the problem.

While the exchange was a complex implementation with connections to insurance companies, Medicaid, Medicare and state marketplaces, Healthcare.gov shouldn’t have broken in such a spectacular fashion. A pertinent question should be asked:  Would a rigorous quality assurance and testing program improve the likelihood of implementation success, or a launch with few or minor bugs?

Now it is about isolating and fixing performance and data issues.  If the fixes are put into production with a robust quality assurance process with real-world test cases, then insurers and users will likely get far better results. Like other complex implementations, fixing the obvious issues will likely uncover more troubles that won’t surface until most of the functions of the site are used. Fixing faulty design takes time and hard work.

Quality Assurance, an often overlooked and understaffed function, is critical to the success of every software implementation in an enterprise, and importantly, for any government institution.  In fact, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius concurred when she isolated “more testing” as one of the reasons why the site is not performing to expectations.

Quality assurance – more commonly referred to as QA by the industry – includes developing a unified testing and validation framework, designing a self-sustaining and scalable service-based model, developing consistent and tangible metrics and rigorous compliance.

QA includes Independent Validation Testing (IVT) – having an experienced team and an end-to-end comprehensive process – with the primary objective to: identify and quickly fix every software, human interaction and hardware risk and business exposure, deliver a comprehensive, independent verification and validation audit, validate with third-party testing and perform full life cycle testing.

Lessons Learned from the Healthcare.gov Launch

With such a complicated software structure, the plan should have been phased in rather than launched in full.  States like California appear to have rolled out their healthcare marketplace with little fanfare.

When integrating databases from dozens of contractors and 55 separate platforms, there should have been an entire layer of independent testing, quality assurance and oversight before launch.

Agility is required to solve software development challenges, and typically government institutions don’t work fast enough to react to and fix glitches.

Adapt or Die – Top 5 Reasons Why the Enterprise Should Embrace BYOD

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by Pawan Yadav, Mobility Practice Leader, SDG Corporation

Pretend you don’t know about Google and Yahoo and Bing and Ask or the Internet in general.  That’s exactly what the newspaper industry did in the early 2000’s.  Today the newspaper industry is struggling to survive because they failed to adapt to technology and information delivery innovations.

Fast forward a dozen years. Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones and 22.9 million iPads in Q4 2012; during the weekend of September 20-23, 2013, Apple sold 9 million new iPhone5’s.  When you tally how many mobile devices have been sold in the past 12 months – Kindles, Nooks, BlackBerry’s and Surface’s, it quickly becomes obvious to the most casual observer that individuals and businesses are consuming information more rapidly than ever before while on the move and in the workplace.

Widespread ownership of multiple mobile devices has forced businesses to enable users to use their own device while maintaining the security of corporate information.

Enterprises Must Develop a Safe and Secure Mobility Strategy
The enterprise can’t afford to ignore Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) any longer.  The important question is now that BYOD is a reality, how can the enterprise effectively deploy a mobility strategy and simultaneously make its workforce happy.  Here are top five reasons why enterprises should embrace BYOD:

  1. Increases Productivity.  Like and Love are powerful motivating factors.  If employees love working on their PDA, output will increase.
  2. Lowers Overhead.  Although overhead cost savings may be minimal, the most important savings may come via HR by lowering employee turnover.
  3. Simplifies Transitions.  Departures happen.  With proper integration, leave-taking is easy, ensuring corporate security, governance and privacy concerns are all met.
  4. Promotes Loyalty.  Word of Mouth = Love times Two.  Happy employees help recruitment by promoting progressive corporate practices.  Starbucks anyone?
  5. One Less Username and Password! Enough said.

There is no doubt that productivity improvements from BYOD are difficult to measure.  And from the CFO’s perspective, the savings may be a little soft.  That said, the enterprise should profit from the “amplified productivity, anytime, anyplace” phenomenon.

Every enterprise is different and each must development a mobility strategy that aligns to their needs, including development costs, governance, risk and security.  In no particular order, here are important factors the enterprise must integrate into their mobility strategy and BYOD:

  • Malware.
  • Lost Device(s).
  • Sensitive Information Compromised.
  • Privacy Breaches.

Enterprises that “Just say Yes M’aM” (mobile application management) to MDM (mobile device management) can reduce risks without jeopardizing employee productivity. MDM safeguards devices, both employee-owned and company-owned, ensuring compliance with corporate security policies. With a centralized strategy of managing multiple devices and applications, organizations improve the ability to secure, monitor and support a mobile workforce and corporate infrastructure.

Crowning a New Mobile Payment King

by Pawan Yadav

Within the next five years (by 2018), it’s predicted that mobile payment technology will be the overwhelming choice of payment method for goods and services. The signs are everywhere, and according to a recently published study by Javelin Strategy & Research, the point-of-sale market is rapidly changing forever. Gartner also predicts that by 2016, the worldwide mobile payment market is expected to have 448 million users, representing $617 Billion USD in transaction value.

Javalin’s analyst, Aleia Van Dyke, states “The retail POS market is evolving at a remarkable rate with the increased popularity of the e-commerce and mobile payments markets.  Today’s consumers are demanding more digitized payment options to enhance their in-store shopping experience. The advanced features of non-traditional payment options like mobile and prepaid cards have encouraged adoption with today’s tech-savvy shoppers.”

In further supporting this evidence, 2013 is the year that industry leader Gartner predicted that more people will access the Internet via a mobile device, as opposed to desktop and laptop use. By 2014, it is also predicted that there will be over five billion mobile devices in activation across the globe.

The bottom line is that businesses better be ready.  If your backend systems don’t support mobile payments and/or your mobile website and native mobile apps don’t accept them or provide a less than great customer experience, your mobile customers (i.e. most of your customers) are likely to go running to a competitor who does.  Thus, it becomes “Mission Critical” for businesses to employ an integrated strategy dedicated to the development of mobile applications that support platforms across the board – for both in-app and mobile web.

SDG’s Enterprise Mobility Center of Excellence is working with companies across the globe to develop overall mobile strategies for everything from effective mobile design, to transaction security, to independent validation & testing and more.   We’ve brought together best-in-class mobility partners to develop one of the most knowledgeable and technologically advanced teams to meet each mobility goal.

The global world continues to draw closer together and hand-held mobile technology is becoming the driving force set to usher in a new era of strategic communication and commerce.

All hail the new King…just make sure you’re prepared to pay him properly!

The Evolution of Agile Software Development with Independent Testing & Validation

by Rodrigo Garcia

In a recent discussion I had with Thomas Murphy of Gartner Research, we discussed how organizations are gradually adopting Agile Software Development, which is defined as development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

While Agile methodology is easy to adopt conceptually, it brings significant operational challenges specially when offshore resources and teams are involved.  In addition, as it’s still in its early days, it’s yet to be fully determined how the outcome of this adoption process ultimately impacts “supporting components” such as Independent Validation & Testing (IVT).

The next 2-3 years will define the outcome of the Agile adoption process, which might include changes to the Agile methodology itself.

Some of the most important elements to remember from the Agile methodology are:

  • Embrace change and consider it a key element to enable competitive advantage
  • Shorter but focalized software delivery cycles based on “working software”
  • Trust and empower the team with adequate environment and tools to “get the job done”
  • F2F interactions promote effective communication and also curve the team’s behavior towards operational efficiency
  • Simplicity… Less is often more

In the meantime, as companies test the waters of Agile Software Development and gain its benefits, IVT’s role in this new world should include more empowerment for developments in the code validation process.   Learn more about SDG’s IVT Practice and how your organization’s implementation of Agile methodologies should best align with your overall business objectives.