Using a Process Management Tool
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Last week I posted a follow up and a new entry on processes that I have been working on for a client and the delivery mechanism. Although my partners and I have evaluated and demoed various tools over the years to create, modify, or publish processes, the two process management tool platforms we use most often are Rational Method Composer, “RMC”, and the Eclipse Process Framework Composer, “EPF Composer”.
Both of these tools are used to author, tailor, document and deploy “method content” (the stuff that is the process) as a framework. Tools such as these really make process engineering and architecture take on a larger return of value. There are countless ways to push out a process, everything from simply writing it down on a wall (maybe a giant whiteboard) to publishing as a humongous document such as a pdf that is out on the company website, to a process website. That last one is where these two tools have a lot of robustness.
Although printed manuals are still the comfort of many people, moving your organization’s methodology to a web based format provides easy navigation, indexing, and search engine capability which enables the day in and day out users to find information quickly and easily such as: templates, examples, and guidance on what tasks to do, when to do them, and what is the resulting work product (amongst lots of other meaningful stuff).
Often when I am discussing using either of these tools as part of a process improvement strategy with clients, the simple analogy is the difference between looking a something like the old Sears Catalog that came out once a year or going to Amazon and finding what you are looking for (plus all sorts of other content that should help with items you are looking at).
Using a process management tool such as these also enables a standardized and managed development process library of reusable process content that can be based on existing policies and procedures as well as industry best practices. Once created, this provides an extensible knowledge base of intellectual capital. It also supports the systematic growth and management of the development processes (continuous process improvement) while maintaining methodology alignment throughout the organization for differing project patterns (large, small, new development, enhancing an existing app, build, buy, IT development vs. small app dev outside of IT vs. other types of development – fin modeling).
RMC is the commercially available tool from IBM and the Eclipse Process Framework Composer is the open source version (see www.eclipse.org/epf). More and more I have found that starting with the open source version, and using the process library content that comes with it as a starting place has worked really well. Plus, it is free! Some clients do want to purchase licenses from a vendor so they can pick the phone and chat with support, so that may a constraint you could face. If you think you can get value from a process management tool, I suggest starting with the open source version and when the time comes to comply with the push to buy something, and then reach out your sales person. No need to rush when there is so much that can be done initially with the eclipse version and what you do in the eclipse version can be imported into the for money version…