Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

BPM4PEOPLE Report Summary

Project ID: 285929
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Italy

Final Report Summary - BPM4PEOPLE (Business Process Modelling for Participatory Enterprises, Organizations, and Public Aministration Bodies)


Executive Summary:

The BPM4people project brings together two of the major innovation drivers in the enterprise software industry of the last decade: Business Process Management Systems (BPMS) and Enterprise Social Software (ESS). The objective of the project was to create a radically new generation of BPM tools and methodologies capable of integrating the analysis, specification, design, implementation and evolution of Business Processes with social networking functions, allowing companies and public administrations to quickly deploy more flexible and human-oriented business processes that exploit the social interactions within the community of employees, customers, and suppliers. The project focused on proposing social extensions to OMG’s MDA and BPMN 2.0 standards, implementing BPM tools based on these extensions, and demonstrating the deployment on top of mainstream social networking platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, and private or enterprise social networks).

The activities of the project included the following:

• Study and definition of the requirements of a social BPM platform to address the typical needs of enterprises and government bodies with respect to social networking integration in management systems;
• Description of the state of the art on Social BPM;
• Development of extensions of BPMN 2.0 and MDA that incorporate social activities and social design patterns, as well as the specification of the user interface behaviour that implements such patterns;
• Identification of a set of Business Logic Components (BLCs) and validation of their design;
• Specification, design and implementation of tools and visual components and validation of their design;
• Specification of example business cases to be covered;
• Use of WebRatio and RUX-Tool to develop complex social BPM scenarios, as specified in the use cases;
• Dissemination and awareness activities towards industry and public bodies.

The results of the project are:

• Specification of the concept and requirements of social BPM;
• Specification of the SocialBPM extension of BPMN, and standardization within OMG of a new international standard named IFML (Interaction Flow Modeling Language);
• Successful implementation of the BLCs as extensions of WebRatio;
• Realization of proof of concept via development of a set of concrete business case studies;
• Design and implementation of a crowd computer able to run crowdsourced business processes;
• Publication of an open-access book on Social BPM and of several journal and conference papers, distribution of dissemination materials, attendance at meetings and events.
• Creation of implementation methodology (life cycle, analysis, etc.), with a continuous improvement process based on evaluation and monitoring, together with a methodology for implementation and market penetration;
• Organization of the Social BPM summer school.

Project Context and Objectives:

CONTEXT

The BPM4people project aimed at designing and bringing to the market innovative methodologies, software tools, and vertical applications for the implementation of Social Business Processes, i.e. processes “collaboratively defined” and “collaboratively executed” by organizations and their stakeholders (employees, customers, citizens).

Stakeholders’ participation is a missing feature in today’s Business Process Management (BPM) Suites and is a major requirement to harmonize the formal and informal knowledge that supports the effective execution of business practices, to let organizations “listen to their processes”. To implement such a vision the Project developed a simple, low-cost, high performance methodology, tool suite, and application portfolio that will help B2B organizations, especially SMEs, harness the flexibility of Social Business Processes design and deployment.

THE CHALLENGE

With the advent of the Web, citizens and business users perform an ever-increasing fraction of their everyday activities online and consequently, organizations from all sectors (commercial enterprises, public administration bodies, health and education institutions, etc) are more and more deploying their business processes on the Web, with the aim of better reaching their customers, employees and stakeholders and of reducing their total costs.

However, online availability is no longer sufficient for an optimal fruition of services and applications: the success of Social Networks has demonstrated the centrality of communities of practice, whereby users can interact with the service providers and among themselves, to be informed, share experiences, and express their opinion on the quality of a service. This “socialization” of the users’ online experience, for customers, citizens, or employees, will carry over to the business processes of organizations, changing the paradigm of Business Process Management, from “closed” to “open and social”.

From closed to fully open social BPM there is indeed a continuum where different types of companies and organizations can find the right mix of control and freedom. No one size fits all organisations: flexibility has to reflect business requirements and the degree of openness to social and informal interactions must be coherent with the organization of the enterprise.

This can be summarised as follows:

• Closed BPM: Process model decided top-down and hard wired, task assignment rigid, communication limited to task input-output;
• Participatory Design: Process model resulting from merge of different models (e.g., merger and acquisition), task/workflow variants;
• Participatory Enactment: Actors are fixed, but can communicate with social tools (e.g., follow up a task, tweet on a task status, etc);
• Social Enactment: The community of actors can be (in part) open: e.g., launch a task to be executed in Facebook, find an expert in LinkedIn, vote for alternative flows;
• Process Mining: Tasks are executed freely (e.g., in a Wiki-like mode), process constraints are mined and progressively enforced by observing community behaviours.

Today’s BPM solutions deployed within enterprises are not ready for the flexibility required by Social BPM: they adopt the asymmetric perspective of the closed BPM approach, whereby organizations formulate their business rules in a top-down way, expressed in some process model, and deploy “canned” BPM applications (i.e. application with a predefined and fixed business logic) to enforce these business rules in the interaction with the relevant stakeholders. BPM solutions of this kind:

• Centralize the definition of the process, with limited possibility of sharing the process design phase with all the involved stakeholders.
• Do not comprise adequate “sensors” for learning the “real” process workflows during execution, which may differ from the designed ones due to deviations, hidden practices, and exceptions.
• Overlook the tacit knowledge embedded in the informal activities carried out by process actors along such communication channels as the email, instant messaging, blogs, shared data spaces, etc.
• Do not valorise “hidden” competences and organizational resources, which can be discovered by analyzing informal work and opinion flows during process execution.

Closed BPM, when applied to processes directed to the consumers and the citizens, or when applied within the enterprise to non-repetitive and communication-intensive processes (like, e.g. product and service design, CRM, etc), can incur high industrial and social costs:

• When faced with rigid process schemes, users (be they citizens accessing a public service or customers interacting online with a commercial company) manifest a high degree of dissatisfaction, due to the limited possibilities of influencing the process execution flow, sharing experiences with other users, expressing their opinion on the quality of service, following the progress of activities, etc.
• In organizations, business processes developed with a top-down approach tend to override, rather than leverage, the best practices and competences present in the enterprise. When faced with too rigid processes, employees tend to circumvent the formal business rules, reducing the transparency of the process and thus the possibility of adequate performance evaluation and business process improvement.
• Even when organizations succeed in enforcing business process rules, change management disrupts even the most consolidated practices. For example, in the case of reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, or market shifts, companies face the challenge of evolving or merging already deployed processes, which often overlap and embody conflicting rules. The lack of tools for “listening” to the real process workflows and flexibly deploying new process versions quickly adaptable to user’s feedback leads to errors in process redesign, employee frustration, and performance and economic losses.

Social BPM holds the promise of bringing controlled flexibility to BPM, by implementing a well-managed form of participation of all the process stakeholders in the design and execution of business processes. With Social BPM, companies can fine tune the subjects of the participation and the extent to which participation is granted, and move progressively from closed BPM solutions to more open approaches.

THE STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITY

The vision of BPM4people is based on hard facts, directly experienced by the beneficiary SMEs and confirmed by the trends, which demand a timely and adequate strategy:

• The extraordinary success of Social Networks in the past five years has permanently changed the way in which people interact online. More and more, employees, customers and citizens will expect to be able to interact with online services at the same level of participation with which they manage their personal content and relationship network. Commenting or voting on the quality of a service, “following” the progress of a service request, networking with other customers/citizens to share usage experience will become mandatory in modern service provider applications.
• The industry and public administration have started using Social Software as a complement to their traditional business process management solutions (e.g., Nokia’s Design by Community and Bank of America’s Consumer Federation). LinkedIn recruiting solutions, Salesforce.com, Yammer enterprise private social network are all examples of successful business use of Social Software;
• Mainstream Social Networking Platforms, both professional ones (LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc) and non-professional ones (Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, etc.), have opened their architecture to integration with third-party applications, creating the ideal technological scenario for the integration of Social Software and BPM;
• In three to five years, business analysts foresee the exponential growth of the market of ICT solutions integrating BPM and Social Software where Social Business Process Management is anticipated as one the most important innovation drivers in the business software industry;
• The mainstream state-of-the-practice BPM solutions are heavy-weight, high-cost and high-complexity monolithic products, which are difficult to extend with social functions and do not support cooperative process design. Therefore, a niche market opportunity opens to agile Independent Software Vendors for attaining leadership in the emerging sector of Social BPM.

The market of BPM tool suites is very concentrated (the 3 top players are US companies and hold 44% of the market) and is characterized by a prevalence of heavy-weight, monolithic products targeted to large enterprises, which are hard to customize with social features and difficult to integrate at the architectural level with Social Networking Platforms.

Demand for a solution to the issues is emerging, especially from SMEs who cannot afford the rigidity and high organizational cost of classic BPM, and there is not a flexible BPM suite in the market that matches all the levels of the Social BPM Continuum.

Visionary players have a strategic opportunity to differentiate their offer from main competitors by applying agile design and management to business processes, by focusing on explicitly modelling the social features of processes and of their enactment applications, rather than trying to customize “one-size-fits-all” solutions.

Raising the level of abstraction at which social requirements are captured and formalized in the process and application models permits organizations to design low cost but flexible applications, which are controllable as well as extendable, and therefore adaptable to different social participation policies, workflow variants, multiple feedback channels, and in general to the specific way of leveraging people’s expertise, skills, and collaboration networks that fits one’s organization.

The participating SMEs (WBM, HOM, ENT) in the BPM4people Consortium are software product and service vendors at different points in the BPM value chain. WBM, HOM, and ENT have not the skills and the resources to invest directly in the development of the missing functionalities required by the full Social BPM continuum, but possess an in-depth perception of the customer’s needs and a precise knowledge about the potential impact that a Social BPM offer might have in their target market. By sharing this strategic vision they expect a quantifiable return on investment on the joint creation of a niche market by offering social BPM tools, methodologies, and vertical applications to their B2B clients, granting them a superior degree of flexibility, at a lower cost.

The opportunity to outsource the necessary research to RTD providers, selected for their competence and past collaboration experience with the proposing SMEs, and to transfer the full IPR of the project’s results to the SMEs, is unique and timely, and will greatly accelerate the time-to-market, which is as necessary precondition for achieving profitability and economic health in short-medium term.

The selected RTD providers (UNITN and UEX) will contribute appropriate competences to the project; they have been selected based on knowledge, complementarities of skills with the SMEs, and past collaboration experience, in the strong belief that all these three factors are necessary for an efficient and fast transfer of research results.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

The BPM4people project brings together two of the major innovation drivers in the enterprise software industry of the last decade: Business Process Management Systems (BPMS) and Enterprise Social Software (ESS). The objective of the project was to create a radically new generation of BPM tools and methodologies capable of integrating the analysis, specification, design, implementation and evolution of Business Processes with social networking functions, allowing companies and public administrations to quickly deploy more flexible and human-oriented business processes that exploit the social interactions within the community of employees, customers, and suppliers. The project focused on proposing social extensions to OMG’s MDA and BPMN 2.0 standards, implementing BPM tools based on such extensions, and demonstrating the deployment on top of mainstream social networking platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, and enterprise social networks).

Project Results:

EXTENSIONS TO BPM PROVIDED BY THE PROJECT

The integration of social software and BPM can help organizations harness the value of informal relationships and weak ties, without compromising the consolidated business practices embedded in conventional BPM solutions. Social BPM holds the promise of bringing controlled flexibility to BPM, in line with the current Adaptive Case Management (ACM) approaches, by implementing a well-managed form of participation of all the process stakeholders in the design and execution of business processes. With Social BPM, companies can fine tune the subjects of the participation and the extent to which participation is granted, and move progressively from closed BPM solutions to more open approaches.

There have been different approaches to bring social features to BPM engines [BJP10, B10, D10, E10, HSJ08, JF10, JAW09, K10, K09, NE09, S10], from workflows implemented as a wiki to automatically generated web applications integrated with social platforms.

The BPM4people project addressed the design of BPM solutions that encompass communication with social tools, open-ended communities of performers, and allocation and execution of tasks to actors not known at process design time, through interactions with social network platforms. It proposed a methodological approach providing a framework for understanding the ways to incorporate social interactions in business processes and a technical solution exploiting model-driven software engineering techniques to produce applications enacting the social process directly from extended BPMN process schema.

The it provided a notation that specifically addressed the needs of Social BPM design. Instead of designing a completely new and independent notation, an extension of the mainstream process modelling language BPMN 2.0 was proposed to express social interactions and cover Social BPM requirements. For doing that, the native extension definition mechanism of BPMN 2.0 were exploited. The project therefore included: the definition of the metamodel of the proposed extensions and the definition of a visual notation for the new concepts.

PROJECT ORGANISATION

The project workplan lasted 24 months and was organized according to 6 workpackages:

• Workpackages that dealt with requirements (WP1) and impact (WP5) were lead by the technical SMEs (WBM and HOM respectively);
• Workpackages involving pure research activities (WP2 and WP3) were lead by the universities (UNITN and UEX respectively);
• Evaluation (WP4) was lead by the SME closest to the end users (ENT);
• Management (WP6) was lead by NXT, an expert project management company.

Activities were scheduled according to a two a phase iterative development cycle (alpha and beta versions) both for the toolsuite and for the pilot social applications developed with it. This allowed refinement of the outcomes based on the early feedback of the users. Indeed, when possible parallel execution of development and validation activities were carried out.

Five basic milestones were defined (MS1-MS5). The goal was to produce the project technical and business requirements by month 5 (MS2), the first alpha version of the integrated tool suite at month 13 (MS3), so as to enable the development of a first version of the Social BPMN applications and the consolidated beta version of the toolsuite at month 19 (MS4). The final six months of the projects were devoted to the refinement of the Social BPMN applications with end users, on the preparation of methodological and training materials and on intensified dissemination (MS5). For simplicity, each design task had one principal design deliverable at M5: redesign cycles due to design problems discovered during the implementation were incorporated in the implementation tasks and the technical documentation was updated as necessary.

The following sections explain the work carried out in each of the technical workpackages during the project lifetime.

DESCRIPTION OF TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC WORK CARRIED OUT

WP1: SOTA Analysis and Requirements (leader WBM)

Overview of WP1

The workpackage activities focused on studying the Social BPM field, understanding the typical needs of enterprises and government bodies with respect to social networking integration in management systems, and defining the requirements of a social BPM platform that could address those needs.

Task T1.1 State of the art review (M1-M2)

Within this task the project partners investigated the current state of the art in the scientific community on Social BPM and the current commercial implementations of Social BPM practices. The analysis highlighted that the field is growing strongly in interest but still immature in real deployments and that a broad space is available for improvement of the practices and for newcomers to propose new technologies.

Task T1.2 Architecture, functional and business requirements (M1-M4)

The activities of this task have focused on the definition of the first version of the specification of the business requirements and functional requirements. Business requirements have been extracted from the needs of some prospective customers and use cases, in various fields spanning:

• Government agencies, at European level (European Parliament), national level and local level (for example, Provincia di Brescia (IT), Provincia di Trento (IT), Municipality of Caceres (ES));
• Non-governmental agencies for the management of natural resources and voluntary activities of individuals (e.g., Seedlean NGO (CH));
• Commercial enterprises that needed social interaction with their customers and that want to provide socially enabled features to their employees (for business purposes or collateral benefits, e.g., carpooling systems);
• Based on these requirements, a set of technical (functional and non-functional) requirements have been specified for the social BPM platform to be implemented.

Main Achievements of WP1

• Description of the state of the art on Social BPM in terms of academic research and existing commercial platforms;
• Business needs specification;
• Functional and non-functional requirements specification for the Social BPM platform

WP2: Architecture & Business Logic Components (leader UNITN)

Overview of WP2

This workpackage started the concrete design and implementation work of the project by identifying a first set of business logic components and by validating their design with the help of prototypes of some example reference case studies. This effort has showcased how even complex social interactions can be integrated with conventional BPM technology and, hence, the suitability of the WebRatio and RUX tool suites in the context of social BPM.

The efforts of this WP and of WP3 were nicely complemented by the collateral initiative of the WebRatio store, which was planned in parallel to the project. This initiative provides the natural background for broadening the development of components to an ecosystem of partners also external to the project, which is necessary to achieve the critical mass of functionality that will support the adoption of the project results. The WebRatio store is very young (it opened in May 2012), but already hosts all the Project components developed in WP2 and WP3 which have passed the quality test.

During the second part of the project, new components were added and the implementation of all components was finalised. Now it is possible to use WebRatio to develop even complex social BPM scenarios that involve different online social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), social productivity instruments (e.g., Doodle), and people (both inside a company and outside of it).

The workpackage also identified a set of new opportunities for the BPM4People consortium, such as the programming of social networking sites (to implement social networking features not yet supported by the social networking sites themselves), the reuse of programming and modelling knowledge (to ease development and facilitate learning), and crowdsourcing (to access the crowd of online workers). The investigation of how to program social networking sites has lead to a prototype development instrument called Simple Flow. The reuse of programming and modelling knowledge has been approached from a conceptual and feasibility perspective. The crowdsourcing of work is enabled via a new modelling notation and an according crowd computing infrastructure.

Task T2.1 Architecture and business logic components design (M2-M5):

The task was started with a one-week, joint workshop to WebML, BPMN and WebRatio at the premises of WBM in Lomazzo (Como, Italy). The workshop introduced junior researchers of UNITN to the modelling language, the tool’s architecture, and the respective extension mechanisms.

This step was followed by the independent but collaborative definition of a set of new business logic components for the integration of the WebRatio tool suite with social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, but also with online poll management systems like Doodle and calendar tools like Google Calendar. The core goal of the work was to understand which social and collaborative functionalities are available online and how to integrate the loosely structured activities that characterize the domain of social networking sites with the well-structured activities of conventional business process management.

Given the continuously changing domain of social networking site and the Web, we expect however to add new functionalities and business logic components also at later stages throughout the project, in order to keep up with novel, emerging requirements and also to involve the ecosystem of partners, customers and prospects into the collaborative ideation and design of new Social BPM components.

Task T2.2 Architecture and business logic components implementation (M5-M23):

This task has produced a set of production-level Business Logic Components for the development of social BPM solutions with WebRatio. The components have all been tested according to WebRatio’s internal quality standards and have been released via the WebRatio App Store, where all developed components are available to WebRatio developers for easy download and reuse.

The implementation technologies and software engineering procedures to carry out this task were jointly defined and agreed on in the context of the workshop in WBM. The core approach to the implementation of new components is to leverage as much as possible on the respective tools’ native extension mechanisms (e.g., custom units for the extension of the WebML language and the WebRatio modeling tool) and to rely as much as possible on existing standards.

Five example prototype applications were developed to showcase the suitability of the BPM4people approach for the development of social enterprise platforms, social capacity sharing, business web sites with social features, social question and answer systems, and voting systems. Focusing on concrete case studies allowed us to progress in a scenario-driven fashion and to focus on individual, simple social BPM features are at a time. The final result is a comprehensive set of social features that can be used together in the development of also complex application scenarios.

The programming of novel social networking features, e.g., simple processes inside Facebook, can be achieved with Simple Flow, a simple process-driven application that allows a developer to visually configure typical social networking actions (e.g., upload a picture, comment a picture) and to execute them automatically. The approach was presented at the 4th International Workshop on Lightweight Integration on the Web (ComposableWeb), held in conjunction with the International Conference on Web Engineering.

As for the crowdsourcing of work, the task designed a dedicated modelling notation for crowdsourced business processes and an according prototypical design and runtime environment. The approach extends the reach of the BPM4people approach beyond social networks and allows it to leverage on common crowdsourcing platforms/approaches to outsource simple tasks to a possibly unknown crowd of online workers.

Main Achievements of WP2

• Identification of the Business Logic Components (BLC) necessary to put the BPM4people approach to social BPM into practice in the context of WebRatio and RUX tools;
• Implementation of the identified BLCs as extensions of WebRatio;
• Quality control of implemented code via continuous testing of developed code;
• Publication of the developed BLCs in the WebRatio App Store to make project results immediately available to developers;
• Proof of concept via the development of a set of concrete business case studies;
• Design of a BPMN extension for the modelling of crowdsourced business processes;
• Design and implementation of a crowd computer able to run crowdsourced business processes; Proof of concept via the development of a case study on crowdsourced business processes.
• Development of a set of very reusable components, which could be considered by potential customers a value per se, also independently of their integration into an end-to-end Social BPM solution. This strategy will support exploitation of project results, because early market checks have shown that customers and prospects need to start practicing with small bits of social interaction in their BPM and web solution immediately, well before all the full components are available.

WP3: Tools and Visual Components (leader UEX

Overview of WP3

The client-side and tool architecture of WebRatio and RUX-Tool were first reviewed to use the appropriate mix of emerging technologies (HTML5 and AJAX) and to design the interfaces between these two complementary development environments. The extension points for Social BPM at visual design time and runtime were identified. Design specifications to produce technical modules, integration testing procedures and acceptation criteria were defined.

The first implementation of the tools and visual components was completed. This implementation includes the incorporation of RUX-Tool in WebRatio as an Eclipse plugin. Regarding the visual components, the partners of the project have a first collection (WebRatio components and their RUX-Tool extensions) to interact with social networks in Social BPM applications and visualize the data in an optimal and most intuitively possible way. Tools and visual components were reviewed and as result, a new list of visual components and features for the client-side of WebRatio and RUX-Tool has been generated.

Finally, the features of the tools have been developed and as result there is a new version of WebRatio (version 7) and a compatible version of RUX-Tool. In addition, previously identified components have been implemented to interact and visualize the result data from social networks and the interactions with the final users.

Task T3.1 Tools & visual components design (M2-M5):

• Review of the client-side and tool architecture of WebRatio and RUX-Tool;
• Identification of the extension points for Social BPM at visual design time and runtime;
• Specification of the structure and behaviour of the previously identified extensions;
• Definition of the steps to produce the technical module, integration testing and acceptation criteria.

Task T3.2 Tools & visual components implementation (M5-M23):

Implementation of the following visual components, which have all been uploaded to the WebRatio Store: Chart, TimeLine, Gantt, ImageGallery, Image Morph, Multimedia Gallery, Video Player, CropImage, CSV, Dates function, Entity Entry, FTP, MindMap, QR Code, RSS reader, Scale Image, Tag Cloud, Zip Unit, Buble Tree, Events Planning Calendar, Flickr, Knob, Real time tweets, Table, Weather and Youtube.

Extensions to RUX have been provided to support the visual design of the view part of the above-mentioned components. The initial design specifications of the tools and the visual components to incorporate new features and capabilities to develop more interactive social applications and interact with the new features of the social networks have been updated. WebRatio 7 has been released and a new compatible version of RUX-Tool has been added with this version.

Main Achievements of WP3

• Implementation of the following visual components were integrated in WebRatio and uploaded to the WebRatio Store: Chart, TimeLine, Gantt, ImageGallery, Image Morph, Multimedia Gallery, Video Player, CropImage, CSV, Dates function, Entity Entry, FTP, MindMap, QR Code, RSS reader, Scale Image, Tag Cloud, Zip Unit, Buble Tree, Events Planning Calendar, Flickr, Knob, Real time tweets, Table, Weather and Youtube.
• Extensions to RUX have been provided to support the visual design of the view part of the abovementioned components.

WP4: Evaluation on Business Cases and Methodology (leader ENT)

Overview of WP4

The work focused on preparing Social BPM Solutions for implementation in business, non-profit and public organizations. First, an ontological framework to be included in the Enterprise Architecture was developed. Meetings with customers and prospects to understand the business value of Social BPM and its positioning in Organization Management practices and in the Enterprise Architecture were held. Reusable Business Cases templates and an ROI calculus methodology were provided.

An implementation methodology (life cycle, analysis, etc.) was created, and a continuous improvement process based on evaluation and monitoring methodology was developed. Specifications for a Social BPM software product were prepared, and the approach for market positioning the new conceptual product powered by BPM4people decided. Social BPM products based on The Social Broker functionalities were developed, using an implementation model based on Lean Start-up methodology.

Task T4.1 Methodology and languages (M4-M24):

• Provision of the specifications for Social WebML and Social BPM;
• Creation of a large focus group with main stakeholders;
• Identification of Social BPM design patterns and organizational goals;
• Provision of an initial mapping between Social BPM patterns, as the starting nucleus of the methodology to develop;
• Preparation of the implementation methodology document;
• Creation of Social BPM products based on the Social Broker approach;
• Testing the hypothesis for the Social e-Commerce product;
• Writing Chapter 14 in the Social BPM book.

Task 4.2: Business case specification (M4-M12):

• Defined the ontological model based on Enterprise Architecture Zachman Framework that backs the Social BPM concept;
• Defined the management model based on the Management by Processes methodology;
• Defined the Social BPM implementation models (capturing and orchestration) and linked these models to the technical architecture and the linguistic aspects (Social WebML and Social BPMN);
• Creation of the implementation methodology based on creating and testing hypothesis (Lean Start-up);
• Creation of the BPM4people products: the Social Broker and Social e-Commerce;
• Definition of the top-level Social BPM Product, the Social Broker, and linking it to the technical architecture;
• Creation of the Business Case structure, to document case histories;
• Presentation of Social BPM at the Conference Finance 2012;
• Discussion of possible business cases in Social BPM for eGovernment performed in the Large Scale Idea Management and Deliberation Systems in Marseille, May 29 2012 (http://coop2012.xrce.xerox.com/) by WBM, with Xerox, Ideascale, MIT, Spigit, and other interested parties.

Task 4.3: Business case implementation & evaluation (M8-M24):

• Final implementation approach together with a large focus group based on Lean Start-up approach;
• Creation of hypothesis for e-Commerce social product and testing;
• Starting the procedures for acquiring Trade Mark for The Social Broker;
• Finalisation of the specifications for the Social Broker;
• Finalisation of the specifications and initial implementation of Social e-Recruitment and Idea Stock Exchange.

Main Achievements of WP4

• Finalization of the linguistic aspects for expressing Social BPM Requirements;
• Creation of a component-based extension of WebML, integrated with the components developed in WP2 and WP3;
• Execution of the extension of BPMN 2.0 that incorporates social activities and social design patterns;
• Identification of the classification of Social BPM goals for the deployment of Social BPM solutions and linking such goals to Social BPM patterns;
• Business Models for capturing and monitoring defined as a general framework of the Social BPM methodology;
• Finalisation of the specifications for the Social BPM products, as the central technical artefact of the methodology;
• The Enterprise Architecture Analysis template definition;
• Finalisation of the Business Case analysis.
• Creation of the Social Broker as a BPM4people product and start of the Trade Mark acquisition procedures.

WP5: Awareness, Impact, Exploitation (leader HOM)

Overview of WP5

Dissemination of the project objectives and results was carried out throughout the project, with the goal to advance as much as possible the market test for the Social BPM approach, to attain a better vision of the potential positioning and uptake well before the completion of the project.

First, the project web site (http://www.bpm4people.org) was created, as well as a LinkedIn group. The project was presented in several international conferences (e.g. WWW2012) and a chapter written in the BPMN Handbook related to the project. The first international summer school on Social Business Process Management (http://socialbpmschool.webratio.com) was planned and carried out by the project.

On the industrial side, numerous meetings with existing and prospective customers were held, so as to start testing the business concept. These meetings had the result of strengthening the perception of the SME partners as innovative, though niche, players in the BPM market, with positive impact in the future business outlook.

On the standardization side, which was a fundamental aspect for achieving impact, important results have been achieved. WBM subscribed to the Object Management Group (OMG) and attended formal task meetings. This led to negotiation with the OMG for a future version of Social WebML, which subsequently was turned into an official RFP of the OMG, authored by WBM, under the supervision of UNITN. The OMG has now accepted the proposal for a new international standard called Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML), based on both the background knowledge of WebRatio (the WebML modelling language) and the results of the BPM4people project (the social extensions of WebML). This is the first OMG international standard promoted by an European SME. It will pave the way to a formidable improvement in the visibility of WebRatio and of the BPM4people Project results.

Furthermore, through this activity, WBM has built a network of committed international partners in the MDA field (including Fujitsu (US, Japan); Thales (EU); Lockheed Martin (US); Microsoft (US); IT; IBM (US)), which will be fundamental for the future marketing activities, positioning the company as a leader in the standardization of MDA Domain Specific Languages for interactive workflow applications.

On the marketing side, WBM has activated a direct channel with Gartner, in order to define a strategy for qualifying the SME partners as cutting edge and innovative BPM solution providers, thanks to the unique modelling and rapid prototyping capabilities that are being developed for Social BPM in BPM4people.

During the second phase of the project, the partners continued with intensive dissemination of the BPM4people project. To help achieve this goal, the partners have published a lot of entries in the principal social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) and have written several papers and presentations that have been presented in the main international ICT and BPM conferences. As the used technologies (Social Software APIs, graphic libraries, HTML5 features) for the project have been continuously evolving; this has meant that the partners have been monitoring all changes and evolutions so as to apply them in the solutions developed in the project.

In order to enable partners to use the foreground results of the project and the overlaying technologies (WebRatio and RUX-Tool), a business plan, a marketing plan and several commercial agreements have been written.

To facilitate the understanding of and training in the technologies of the project, partners have developed some training materials, also for computer-based training (CBT) and in multimedia format, that have been published in two different formats: a DVD and an online web application (http://bpm4peoplecbt.homeria.com). Both the DVD and the web application include several demonstration videos, presentations of the project and BPMN language notation and demonstration projects.

Task T5.1 Market & Technology Watch (M6-M24):

Web Technologies are part of a fast changing environment. Everyday, new concepts, languages and methodologies are introduced that convert Web Engineering in a rich and complex world. It is important to keep updated with the most recent changes on Web Technologies in order to maintain a position in these technologies. Every aspect of technologies is susceptible to being watched, but the project especially focused on monitoring HTML5, because this revision of the standard was not closed at the time of the start of the project, and it was still under development.

Nevertheless, the new features that are being included on HTML5 are leading the Web to a powerful state day after day. The applications auto-generated with WebModel WebRatio and Homeria RUX-Tool take advantage of these new features. Not only the standards needed to be watched, but also supported browsers were presenting changes very frequently in order to adopt these standards.

In the second part of the project, the technologies continued changing fast, which has meant a major effort for each partner to evaluate and to adopt them. The trends of the users in the social networks imply an evolution in the Social Software APIs to support them. These changes, in addition to the features in HTML5, meant the partners had to modify the work done, especially the visual components, in order to incorporate these new capabilities and provide to the final users the best and intuitive form of the data extracted from social networks. Also, it was very important to track to the potential competitors and their products, particularly any related with Social BPM, resulting in possible modifications to business strategies.

Task T5.2 Business planning and exploitation (M6-M24):

As a first step for the development of the business planning and exploitation, some potential future partners and their organizations were identified, and the consortium made contact with these potential adopters of the BPM4people project results. The SMEs of the project (WBM, HOM and ENT) were all operating with similar customers (mid-to-large corporations and public administrations) in complementary regions, and with different positioning in the value chain.

Web Models is a provider of WebRatio, which allows customers to design traditional business processes using BPMN 2.0 and generate Web/SOA applications.

Homeria Open Solutions is a provider of RUX-Tool, a tool for the WYSIWYG editing of complex user interfaces for Rich Internet Applications that already is integrated in WebRatio.

Enterprise Concept is a software integrator and service provider in BPM, supporting customers in the design, implementation and optimization of BPMs for different application domains.

After evaluating the possible future adopters of the project, each partner has elaborated its business plan for the next years with the exploitation of the results of the project. They have developed a comparison between their benefits with the project and without them.

Task T5.3 IPR management (M1-M12):

WBM, HOM and ENT held bilateral and trilateral meetings to reinforce their existing partnership and commercial agreements and start the discussion on the modalities for the future exploitation of the project results. The IPR scheme presented in the project proposal has been confirmed as a viable basis for the future commercial agreements.

Task T5.4: Community, standards, and dissemination (M1-M24):

As an integral part of its dissemination strategy, the BPM4people partners have put strong commitment into standardization. In particular, WBM has attended all the quarterly meetings of the OMG (mainly located in the USA) to push the standardization of user interaction modelling, jointly with the extension to social networking, mobile and business process modelling. As a result, in March 2013, the IFML specification was adopted by OMG as a new standard. It is currently in Beta version and WBM is pursuing its finalization, with effort allocated also after the project conclusion. See http://www.omg.org/spec/IFML/ for the official version of the specification.

The BPM4people philosophy has been shown at numerous venues, both in Europe and in the United States. In particular, WBM participated with a dissemination booth (stand) doing demos at all the OMG meetings in the USA and in Berlin, Germany. Furthermore, it promoted the approach at the SMAU event in Milano in October 2013 (see http://www.smau.it/milano12/schedules/bpm-e-cloud-la-partnership-ideale/ ), at BPMnext in California (www.bpmnext.com) and at the CIO Executive Summit in Minneapolis (http://www.evanta.com/cio/summits/minneapolis).

ENT demonstrated a set of products which have the Social Broker as the core of the technological framework. Presentations were made at the Global Conference on Innovations in Management in London and GS1 Conference in Romania. Also ENT organized a set of workshops in Bucharest with the Associations of Bio and Traditional products, which are the main customers of the Social e-Commerce platform.

UNITN and UEX contributed to dissemination with various papers and demos at scientific conferences including ICWE and BPMS2. NXT interacted with clients concerning applicability of the BPM4people project results.

HOM dissemination activities included TV interviews and booths at Spanish events such as “Foro Emprende 2012.” and “I Encuentro de Cooperación Empresarial-B2WIN”. It also worked at preparing the dissemination materials of the project. Various videos and presentations have been published online on YouTube and Slideshare.

Task T5.5: Training (M10-M24):

An important objective of the project is training in the Social BPM elaborated in the project to the final users. To accomplish this, the partners have developed training materials, including Computer Based Training, and also in multimedia format that has been published online for the community members. The training has also been elaborated in a DVD version as well as an online web application (http://bpm4peoplecbt.homeria.com).

Main Achievements of WP5

• Acceptance by the OMG of a new international standard called Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML), based on both the background knowledge of WebRatio (the WebML modelling language) and the results of the BPM4people project (the social extensions of WebML).
• Published a chapter about Social BPM in the BPMN Handbook;
• Published numerous papers about Social BPM.
• Held several meetings with existing and prospective customers and early adopter organizations;
• Created a community of people and raising awareness of the results of the project;
• Developed the business plan, marketing plan and commercial agreements between the partners;
• Developed CBT training on DVD and as an online online web application;
• Presented the project at various venues, including:
o 3rd International Workshop on BPMN, November 2011, Lucerne, Switzerland;
o Social informatics workshop, Trento, Italy, February 13 2012;
o WWW2012 International Conference, Lyon France, April 20 2012;
o Large Scale Idea Management and Deliberation Systems in Marseille, May 29 2012, (http://coop2012.xrce.xerox.com/); I
o CWE, July 2012, Berlin, Germany;
o BPMS2, September 2012, Tallinn, Estonia;
o bpmNEXT, March 2013, Pacific Grove, California;
o BPM Forum, June 2013, Milan, Italy.
o Foro Emprende 2012, November 2012, Cáceres, Spain;
o Feria TIC EPCC, May 2013, Cáceres, Spain.

Potential Impact:

BENEFITS

BENEFITS FOR EUROPEAN SMES

Besides the direct benefits for the involved SMEs, BPM4people will be beneficial for European SMEs at large, by reducing the barrier of adoption of BPM:

• Availability of agile Social BPM tools and off-the-shelf Social BPM applications;
• Easier learning curve: complete methodology backed by innovative tools that mask the complexity of integrating BPM Systems and Social Software;
• Affordable price and licensing model: initial adoption costs will be reduced significantly in comparison with the current situation, where the dominant market players (mostly US vendors targeting large corporations) sell mainstream BPM solutions that cost up to 180.000€ per year / per server. BPM4people plans a runtime free, unlimited server, distribution model, and a yearly licensing cost positioned at 10% of the average market cost, with ad hoc adoption facilitation programs for SMEs (pay per use). This aggressive strategy will open the market of Social BPM for SMEs, with benefits on their capacity to improve business processes, gain efficiency, and motivate human resources;
• Reduction by 50% of re-design cycles of BPM solutions implemented with the Social BPM approach, leading to a 25% decrease of cost in process maintenance (which can reach 90% of the total cost of development of a software solution).

The major beneficiaries will be:

• SME vendors of BPMs: the market of BPMs is growing at a rapid pace and is fast evolving; this offers opportunities to aggressive BPM vendors that can add value to the standard BPM offering (process design + deployment + monitoring). The integration of social functions into BPMN is recognized as one of the most promising directions of future development in the BPM market and constitutes an opportunity for EU SMEs.
• Organizations adopting BPMs: BPMs are heavyweight systems, with high costs of adoption, due to their inherent rigidity and impact on the organization. Social BPM concentrates on improving the human participation in the definition, enactment, evaluation and monitoring of business processes, adding flexibility and lowering the risk/cost of adoption of these solutions.

BENEFITS FOR THE EUROPEAN PUBLIC AUTHORITIES

BPM4people will facilitate the development of online services for the citizen resulting from:

• More effective development of online services compliant to customer satisfaction and feedback requirements, as required by member states legislation;
• Improved customer service with reduced incidence of litigation;
• Cost reduction in terms of better service support, thanks to the fostering of social self-support networks among consumers and citizens.

BENEFITS FOR EUROPEAN CITIZENS

BPM4people will open BPM to participatory services for citizens in terms of:

• Optimisation of time to be spent in completing online transactions and services;
• Transparency of communication process with service providers;
• Social sharing of experience and knowledge (for consumers, citizens, associations,..)

IMPACT

The project is expected to have the following impact:

IMPACT ON INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS

The Project aimed at impacting on the OMG’s MDA initiative (http://www.omg.org/), comprising a wide set of software modelling standards. To this end, WBM subscribed to the OMG and attended OMG formal technical meetings for 2 years. This activity has led to the issuance of an RFP (request for proposal) in the context of web user interface modelling. The OMG has now accepted the proposal for a new international standard called Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML), based on both the background knowledge of WBM (the WebML modelling language) and the results of the BPM4people project (the social extensions of WebML). This is the first OMG international standard promoted by an European SME. It will pave the way to a formidable improvement in the visibility of WebRatio and of the BPM4people Project results.

IMPACT ON INDUSTRY:

BPMs are one of the major growing areas in the enterprise software industry of the last decade, while Social BPM has the promise of being the most important innovation in the BPM market in the next five years. WBM is pursuing, in partnership with HOM and ENT, a strategy to qualify as a cutting edge and innovative BPM vendor, thanks to the unique modelling and rapid prototyping capabilities that are being developed for Social BPM in BPM4people.

Furthermore, WBM is working with Gartner in order to define the positioning of the solutions created in BPM4people in the global market of BPM and Rapid Application Development (RAD) Tools. Nine meetings with Gartner consultants have been held in the following areas: ARAD, Architected Rapid Application Development; MDA, Model-Driven Architectures; Web-Oriented Architecture; Composite Applications.

In 2013 WBM has been recognized as a "Gartner Cool Vendor" and has been mentioned in the Application and Integration Platforms field.

IMPACT ON ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:

BPMs have traditionally been considered tools affordable only by large enterprises, who have the capacity of formally analysing their business processes and strictly enforcing them. However, SMEs would benefit enormously from a more lightweight approach to BPM, which could permit them to specify and enact their business processes in a more flexible way, catering for ad hoc processes, exceptions, and a strong participation of the process actors (human resources, customers) in the process enactment. Social BPM, with its added flexibility and human involvement, makes the investment in BPM affordable to SMEs and helps them gain the productivity necessary to compete in a globalized economy without loosing the velocity and reactivity that their “being small” guarantees.

MAIN DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES

An integral part of disseminating the project results was a strong commitment to standardization. In particular, WBM attended all the quarterly meetings of the OMG (mainly located in the USA) to push the standardization of user interaction modelling, jointly with the extension to social networking, mobile and business process modelling. As a result, in March 2013, the IFML specification has been adopted by OMG as a new standard, a major outcome. It is currently in Beta version and WBM is pursuing its finalization, with effort allocated also after the project conclusion. See http://www.omg.org/spec/IFML/ for the official version of the specification.

The partners have advertised and disseminated the BPM4people philosophy at many venues, both in Europe and in the United States. During the second year, WBM participated with a dissemination booth (stand) doing demos at all the OMG meetings in the USA and in Berlin, Germany. Furthermore, it promoted the approach at the SMAU event in Milano in October 17 2013 (see http://www.smau.it/milano12/schedules/bpm-e-cloud-la-partnership-ideale/), at BPMnext in California (www.bpmnext.com) and at the CIO Executive Summit in Minneapolis (http://www.evanta.com/cio/summits/minneapolis ).

ENT demonstrated a set of products which have the Social Broker as the core of the technological framework. Presentations were made at the Global Conference on Innovations in Management in London and GS1 Conference in Romania. Also ENT organized a set of workshops in Bucharest with the Associations of Bio and Traditional products, which are the main customers of the Social e-Commerce platform.

HOM dissemination activities included TV interviews and booths at Spanish events such as “Foro Emprende 2012.” and “I Encuentro de Cooperación Empresarial-B2WIN”. It also worked on preparing dissemination materials of the project.

UNITN and UEX contributed to dissemination with various papers and demos at scientific conferences including ICWE and BPMS2. NXT interacted with clients concerning applicability of the BPM4people project results.

Various public videos and presentations have been published online on YouTube and Slideshare, as well as on the IFML.org website. Community activities have been covered by the WebRatio Community and various advertising and communications on social networks (mainly Twitter and Linkedin groups).

EXPLOITATION OF MAIN RESULTS AND OWNERSHIP

5 main results of the project (R1, R2, R3 etc) have been identified, as explained below.

• R1 is a conceptual artefact (an extension of the BPMN standard language). This was created by UNITN from the requirements of the Business Cases and of the SMEs. The result is public, under an appropriate business-friendly license for intellectual content (Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial). Compatibility with OMG licensing scheme for BPMN 2.0 derivative works have been respected. The producer (UNITN), the purchaser (WBM) and the other two SMEs (ENT and HOM) have full rights of use. Specifically, UNITN has the right to use R1 for scientific publication and academic teaching. WBM, ENT, and HOM have rights to use it for commercial purposes, including but not limited to tool implementation, code generator implementation and customer application specification and development.

• R2 is a conceptual artefact (a methodological manual). This was created by UNITN from the requirements of the Business Cases and of the development experience of the SMEs. The result is public, under an appropriate business-friendly license for intellectual content (Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial). The producer (UNITN), the purchaser (ENT) and the other two SMEs (WBM and HOM) have full rights of use. Specifically, UNITN has the right to use R2 for scientific publication and academic teaching. WBM, ENT, and HOM have the rights to use for commercial purposes, including but not limited to tool implementation, professional training, customer application development.

• R3 is partly a conceptual artefact (Social extension of the WebML model) and partly a software artefact (the components implementing the model concept for supporting code generation). The producer (UNITN) has sold the full IPR to the purchaser (WBM), so that R3 has become entirely proprietary of WBM. WBM has granted UNITN the right of use of R3, and its post-project modifications and extensions, under the conditions of the Academic License of WebRatio, which is already well-experimented with several research and higher education institutions. WBM has granted usage rights of R3 to the other SMEs (HOM and ENT).

• R4 is a software artefact (the components implementing the visualization of specific social BPM tasks). The producer (UEX) has sold the full IPR to the purchaser (HOM), so that R4 has become entirely proprietary of HOM. HOM has granted UEX the right of use of R4, and of its post-project modifications and extensions, under the conditions of the Academic License of RUX-Tool, which is already well-experimented with several research and higher education institutions. HOM has granted usage rights of R4 to the other SMEs (WBM and ENT).

• R5 is a software artefact (a set of vertical Web/SOA applications). The producer (UEX) has sold the full IPR to the purchaser (ENT), so that R5 has become entirely proprietary of ENT. ENT has granted UEX the right of use of R5, and of its post-project modifications and extensions, under the conditions of an Academic License. ENT has granted usage rights of R5 to the other SMEs (WBM and ENT).

The RTD performers (UNITN and UEX) granted to the SMEs (WBM, HOM and ENT) free access to all their relevant background that was deemed necessary by the SMEs during the execution of the project. No relevant background knowledge or artefacts proprietary of UNITN and UEX were identified which would have needed a specific written usage agreement between the RTDs and the SMEs. All the necessary background information of UNITN and UEX required by the SMEs is scientific knowledge already available in accessible scientific publications.

All the source code developed by the RTD performers has been stored for the entire duration of the project in a source code repository created by the Coordinator and accessible by all the three SMEs. This provision has been extended so that after the project, the SME users will maintain full access and full right of use of the entire software source code used to implement the BPM4people solution. In this way, the SMEs will ensure maintenance of the software beyond project life. The development of the software has followed coding guidelines and procedures established by the SMEs. The presence of two RTD researchers working in the premises of the SMEs during the project lifetime has ensured the necessary transfer of knowledge about the source code, thus granting post-project evolution and maintenance of the software artefacts.

Note that R1 and R2 are conceptual and have been delivered with a public licence (Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial) in order to support the widest possible international dissemination and impact. R3, R4 and R5 are technical and the associated IPR has been transferred from the RTD providers to exactly one SME. With this IPR management scheme, at the end of the project all the foreground knowledge and results will be either in the public domain, to maximize the international visibility and impact of the Project, or belong to a single company, so as to ease both the individual and joint commercial exploitation.

Post-project exploitation of results will be pursued as follows:

• R1 Social BPMN Model: contact with the Object Management Group (OMG) was established early in the project, WBM became a member and attended the OMG meetings, and as a result, in March 2013, the IFML specification was adopted by OMG as a new standard. After the project’s end, the link with OMG will be continued.

• R2 Social BPM Methodology: the methodology will be published as a book and a community of interest around Social BPM will be established. After the project termination, the SMEs will continue the dissemination of the methodology, by means of their corporate blogs and presence in professional social networks. Also the communication tools set-up in the project, will not be discontinued but will be kept alive by the SME partners.

• R3 Social WebML extensions and components. These software assets have become the property of WBM and part of the WebRatio BPM Tool suite, which will be evolved and maintained as all the other components of the WebRatio Architecture.

• R4 Social Visual Components: these software assets have become the property of HOM and part of the RUX-Tool, and will be evolved and maintained as all the other components of the RUX Architecture;

• R5 Vertical Social BPM Applications: these software assets have become the property of ENT and part of their commercial offer. As such, they will be evolved and maintained by ENT as part of their development in support to its commercial and consultancy activity.

List of Websites:

www.bpm4people.org

Contact: Aldo Bongio <aldo.bongio@webratio.com>


Related information

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WEBRATIO SRL
Italy
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