All I did was post a diagram on LinkedIn – I didn’t realise that I was going to learn so much

knowledge

I’ve been trying to get my head around business and data modelling. Two acronyms came up … UML, and BPMN.

I understood that they were both Very Important. Certain sources promoted BPMN, while others maintained that UML was actually better… Unfortunately I couldn’t work out why.

An Answer…

I started hunting for an answer. On the website of BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT) there was an article (by Simon Perry) that made a comparison of the two – “Process modelling comparison“. It is a great article, and contained the following matrix:

uml_bpmn_comparison

 At last – something that explained it for me… UML was superior.

If this article was valuable to me, it would be valuable for others… I posted the matrix to several BA groups on LinkedIn.

Response

Not thinking any more of it, I was surprised when someone made a comment. James Shield in the UK pointed out the following:

This would have been a lot more useful if it stuck to comparing BPMN with its UML equivalent – Activity diagrams.

The other parts of UML mentioned (Use Case diagrams and Class diagrams) can be used to address the things that BPMN doesn’t even try to address, just as they were used to address what Activity diagrams do not address.

Maybe things were not as black & white as I had thought. I explained that I was still new to this area, and asked for help in better understanding it.

And then…

And then a whole of people jumped in with further explanations. All of them adding to my understanding.

Tamas Salamon (South Africa) stated that

I think if your boundary is firmly within process modelling and your stakeholders are just the business community, the choice will depend on which will deliver the message more effectively, i.e. create a better understanding.
Ultimately it is about clear, unambiguous communication of information

Rémy Fannader (France) pointed out that

the equivalent of BPM with UML are Activity diagrams for the processing of contents, and State diagrams for the control of execution. That distinction is critical when the same business logic is to be used in different business or technical contexts. It is not supported by BPM.

Remy gave me a few links to relevant articles.

James commented that

There are pluses and minuses for each. For example I like how Activity diagrams show forks and joins. But they can both do the job.

And added that

BPMN seems to be the more popular. I have used BPMN at my last three clients. I haven’t used Activity diagrams for business process maps for 10 years. For that reason alone I would use BPMN.

 

He then followed up with some useful advice…

- UML Class diagrams are great for data modelling;
at least as good as Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERDs).

- UML is also used for behaviour modelling
—- State Machine diagrams
—- Sequence diagrams
—- Use Case diagrams
—- Actviity diagrams,

- For business process modelling, the Activity diagram is the UML artefact of choice.

- BPMN has nothing to do with data modeliing; it’s a Notation for Business Process Modelling.

As a BA, I use/have used the following UML diagrams
– Package (to group related things together)
– Class (data modelling mainly)
– Object (to show examples)
– Activity (less so these days)
– Use Case (overview of system functionality)
– State Machine (event-driven, state-dependent behaviour)

For me, the other UML diagrams are for design, construction and deployment.

Rolf Weinmann (Germany) then added some useful insight…

I think it’s important when we use things to ask where they come from, what they want to support/do and where they are.

As written above BPMN was targeted, wants and is a “Notation for Business Process Modelling”.
UML comes from a very technical oriented area. Action diagrams/Business Use CASEs- to my knowledge , etc. have been added only at a later stage.

and…

Having taught many BA classes, developing BA Trainings and coaching Business People and Business Analysts on various project my conclusion is…
BPMN is much closer to the business, provides a full set of good stuff to modell the business (not only processes), etc. …

UML on the other hand better allows more technical people to better understand what to do with the Business requirements (e.g. using of UseCases) and document standard IT models… (e.g. Class diagrams, etc.)

Putcha Narasimham, a very smart man from India, adds to that by saying that he agrees with James and Remy and that…

Within process modeling, I found BPMN better defined and consistent though it is too elaborate with too many symbols and interpretations.

He also supplied me with links to some further material that he had developed.

 

Wow

This all started with me sharing (in a slightly “don’t know what I don’t know” way) a matrix that I found .

One person made the effort to comment on that matrix, and it lead to a very interesting, and educational, conversation that involved people from six different countries….Way more than I had expected.

Related posts:

 

The best no-bullshit “Rules of Networking”

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The question was asked, on Quora,  “How do I get better at networking?

There were 38 answers. The response that got the most upvotes, was the one by Zach Freedman. Someone who tells it like it is. His response was certainly different from the other responses, and garnered the most comments (and, as mentioned, upvotes)…

  1. Networking is bullshit. You don’t “network”, you meet people. Get out of the results-oriented mindset and enjoy the conversations. Be a goddamn human about it. Put down your phone, because…
  2. Comfort zones are bullshit. The only network worth having is one that has a diverse group. Wide and shallow is the name of the game. With a wide network, you have more interesting conversations, more options for solving problems, and more ears on the ground to spot trends. Grow some balls, leave your silo, and make friends with people who are utterly unlike you. Twitter and Facebook shield you, which is why…
  3. Social media is bullshit. Talk to people in the real world. A lot. Expand your options using meetups, clubs, mixers, and getting friends to drag you along to their social stuff. Try and talk to everyone at the event. Ignore your business cards, because…
    Business cards are bullshit. There’s exactly one reason to use a card – you take their card because you want to follow up on something they said. They like old Benzes and you have a friend who collects them? Ask for their card, write “Connect w Jeff re Benzes” on the front, pocket the card, and follow up with it. Don’t give out your card unless asked, because…
  4. “Let’s talk later” is bullshit. They’ll never follow up with you. The ball is firmly in your court. If the conversation went well, call them back within two days, link them with what you wrote down, and check in every two weeks or so. Two weeks?! Yes, because…
  5. You never stop selling. You never stop shipping. Your life is vibrant, fascinating, and fast-moving. Every week, you have new people to connect and new developments to tell others about. And you do so.

Your regular contact builds friends. Your excitement makes them want to listen. Your activity spreads the word that you get things done.

Conversations aren’t “How are you doing? Fine, how are you?” They’re real, visceral, and worthwhile. Most importantly, you’re actually helping people, and that’s why you start networking in the first place.

 You can read the original in Quora here.

Six models of Organisation

organic-structure

The following is sourced from Imaginization:

Six Models of Organization

(An excerpt from Imaginization: The Art of Creative Management )

Model 1 is the classical bureaucracy, carefully blueprinted into functional departments, run from the top by the chief executive through various structures, rules, regulations, job descriptions and controls. It is designed to work like a machine, and operates very efficiently – so long as nothing changes!

Bureaucracies, like machines, operate well when there are stable functions to be performed, especially when they can be broken down into a series of separate operations coordinated from the top. But when an organization’s tasks keep changing, it’s a different story. The changes create a host of problems that no one is mandated to solve.

The problems thus work their way up the hierarchy, and eventually fall on the chief-executive’s desk. He or she soon gets overloaded, and initiates a shift to Model 2 by appointing a top management team. Collectively, they now deal with the problems, leaving the bureaucratic machine below (ie. the functional departments) to continue with the routine work.

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A insightful observation on communicating with technology, or “What’s better than texting”?

communicate

Text-speak came into existence in December 1992.  It was a quick way of typing SMS messages on mobile phones, back in the days when it was slow and laborious, having to bash away at the keypad with your thumbs.

Thanks to more modern phones, texting has been on the decline. There are, however, still people who use it. Even adults! They claim that it’s quick to type. That may be true, but it takes longer to read it….

An adult I know insists on sending out cryptic messages using Viber, an instant messaging/VoIP app. I often have trouble translating these. And they annoy me – effectively, the responsibility is upon me to work out what the message is about. It should be that the responsibility is on the sender to make sure that their message is clear.

After partaking in a transfers of messages with this person (in which I pointed out that txt-speak is very dated), the person sent me a voice message that I actually had to listen to. Her message was…

As I see it, technology has moved forward so much that we can now actually talk with each other.”

I smiled.

How to Explain Big Data to your Grandmother

Solink recently published an infographic with the title “How to Explain Big Data to your Grandmother“.

It was put together for The Grandma prize, at Montreal’s Internatonal Startup Festival. To claim this prize, you have to break your idea down to its fundamental parts, and pitch it to a group that will not be up-to-date on the latest jargon and technological advances.

The infographic does that quite well. What do you think of it?

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8 tips from Paul Newman on being a Business Analyst

butchcassidynewman

Paul Newman, – actor, film director, entrepreneur, professional racing driver, auto racing team owner, and auto racing enthusiast, and … Business Analyst guru.

What?!! BA Guru? 

Yep…draw closer and I’ll tell you why…

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Simple advice – How to Make Ugly Slides Beautiful

This slidedeck presents some fantastic tips on turning slides from dull to wow. I really like this one.

Collection of interesting infographics for those touring the world


In a slight diversion from my usual subject matter, here’s a collection of interesting infographics that accorhotel.com has made about the following popular travel destinations:

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The BA is the least knowledgeable about Agile

most knowledgeable

According to VersionOne’s 2013 State of Agile survey, Business Analysts rank as the least knowledgeable about Agile.

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CASE 1- CATWOE & Value Proposition

markjowen:

k@twoah

Having recently “discovered” CATWOE, I found this to be an excellent article.

Originally posted on The science of enterprise—and doing good.:

This is a real life example (has to be anonymous) that shows how defining the core-purpose of your business enables you to define and understand the essence of the value proposition. First up is what the owner described as a manufacturer of coated parts, but what was the value proposition? You’ll need to remind yourself of what CATWOE is here, and my interpretation of what must comprise the value proposition.

1. Hermann Engineering Ltd
Herman Engineering Ltd (HEL) was founded in 1890 by two partners James James and Robert James. It  started its long life near Cardiff in South Wales. It was set up originally to provide a service to the local steel industry, which started to go into heavy decline at the beginning of the 1970s. The company’s principal activity had always been the surface treatment of metal components. Surface treatment involved a variety of processes including, simple…

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Don’t forget’s! when designing for the Web

HQ have put up a great presentation on Slideshare, It that encapsulates some very important factors that must not be forgotten when designing for the web.

I encourage you to have a look…

Is Agile a Cult?

together

Agile: a set of software development methodology principles in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.

Agile software development is very popular at the moment. It offers a responsive way of developing, and companies are adopting it at a rapid rate.

I’m not going to talk about the benefits of agile – a simple Google search will tell you more than you need to know.

What I do want to touch upon is a comment that someone made to me -Agile is too much like a cult“.

So, let’s have a look … is Agile a cult?

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Back from the Darkness

I'm Back

Time: Friday evening, 23 August 2014

Place: Here

I clicked on the link to my blog to discover ...

24-08-2014 21-35-21

Aarghh … Wordpress had suspended my blog due to a breach of their Terms of Service.

I went through the terms with a magnifying glass. There was nothing that I seemed to have blatantly ignored. Maybe there was something that I had accidentally infringed…

I quickly found their response form on their site, and asked for more information. 

And … it turns out that it was a mistake

Phew! 

Darkness

Asking the question: GOOD; asking it over and over: BAD – where social engagement in the workplace fails.

same_tune

Using social tools within the enterprise is a valuable thing. It lets people ask questions to a bigger audience than just those sitting within hearing distance of their desk.

I’ve discussed this in earlier posts (ESS (Enterprise Social Software) – user adoption, and Let’s share!). It’s incredibly valuable to be able to draw on the knowledge of others. That’s why it’s good to be able to ask questions. The answer given helps not just the asker, but can help others, and at the same time, others can add to the answer creating even more value.

Where I feel this all falls down though is that, often, there is no real way to capture that knowledge that came about from the questions asked. Continue reading

Now this is the right way to do it – webinar times in a big world

Kudos to ProjectTimes.

The Internet is a global thing. This means that anything that you publish on it could be read by pretty much anyone in the world. As a result, it is incredibly valuable to offer times, dates, et cetera, in a way that can be easily “localised’.

Project Times promoted a webinar, and were good enough, with the time, to add the offset to GMT. This meant that I could easily calculate what that time was in my time zone. (Rather than having to try and google a translation.)

webinar instructions

My only grumble with this, is that UTC should be used rather than GMT.
However they are both aligned so it’s not that bad.

Understanding the Frustration of a PM

Oops

So there he was. Charlie had been assigned as lead BA on a project with an external client. “Cool” he thought, but still felt a bit nervous. There were others in his department that had been in the game longer, and he was still reeling from having the proverbial  “slap in the face” in an earlier project that had turned slightly pear-shaped..

As such, Charlie decided to ask some of his colleagues for help. They were most forthcoming, and decided to hook in other expertise. “All fine” he thought, “the more experience available in this, the better.” 

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Is this a sign that the PMI’s BA certification is of more value?

Venus and Mars

In a recent ProjectTimes articleKiron Bondale described the oft-seen misalignment between Project Managers and Business Analysts.

In his article, he lists some comments made by each about the other…

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