BPA, BPM and Design: Hey Joe, Can You Cook Up That Workflow For Me?

BPM Designer Requirements

Personas and Design Interfaces Can Make Or Break Your BPM/BPA Project

One key factor in choosing any Business Process App/Management platform for your organization is the design interface(s).  During your research and diligence, one key question to ask:

Who will be designing my workflows, forms, reports and data to build out my applications?

Choose wisely, as this choice can really slow down your progress and is a key factor in the success of these types of projects.  There are a ton of choices: Web, Fat Client, Visio, IDE Plugin, and the list goes on and on.  I would argue that one size does not fit all in the BPA/BPM space, and that several designers will be required to meet the needs of just about any organization that plans to gain efficiency from a business apps platform.  So, let’s take a quick look at some of the personas you will need understand and what to take into consideration when choosing:

  • The Power User – All departments have them, they are self-proclaimed wizards of the spreadsheet, overlords of the departmental SharePoint site, and get the tech, and all it can do for them.  They are typically very knowledgeable about their processes, and have the keen ability to map business needs to basic technology.  They are not developers, and really don’t have time to learn a full-blown design UI.
  • The Business Analyst – The BA truly gets how to map the process to technology, and needs to take it to the next level.  Exposing additional features and functionality that may be beyond the level of the Power User is essential, and providing this type of design capability will lead to more efficient processes, and will help to take true advantage of all the features and benefits your platform provides.
  • The IT Guy/Gal – Some organizations will have heavy IT involvement in all process design, and may partition particular pieces and parts to the IT staff.  IT typically needs granular control of data and integration, as theses are typically where they will live in the overall process.  Along with that, security, control and all things infrastructure should also be readily available.
  • The Developer – For the devs in the organization, a seamless integration with their design and development tools will provide faster development, ease of customization, and a quick learning curve.  Just about all facets of the engine should be exposed in this interface, to truly provide value and the ability to leverage the platform to its full extent.

So, a single interface will not meet all the requirements above.  You cannot meet the required complexities of a developer, and provide a usable interface through a single design experience.  One of the key benefits of BPM/BPA today is rapid deployment, and putting designers in all capable user hands is critical to speed of deployment.  So how many designers are enough?  I would argue at least two, and possibly four depending on your persona breakdown and systems in use.  So, below are some great examples from K2:

  1. The Dedicated Web Designer (K2 Designer) – This effective design environment is accessible through your browser, and provides full drag and drop functionality, and is appropriate for the first three personas above in many situations:

    workflow and forms designer
    K2 Designer: Powerful Workflows, Forms, Reports and Data Design
  2. SharePoint Specific Designer (K2 for SharePoint) – Focused on meeting the needs of the first three above, but with aSharePoint focused experience, this designer is all drag and drop, and wizard driven for ease of configuration:

    BPM Design for Sharepoint Workflow
    K2 Designer for SharePoint: Sharepoint BPM Workflow, Forms and Reports
  3. The Fat Client, Desktop Designer (K2 Studio) – For maximum horsepower, and a full-featured design experience, typically “Fat” Client desktop apps provide extensive capabilities.  Typically reserved for BAs, IT and Devs, these drag and drop interfaces allow “under the hood” access to the entire platform.

    Drag and Drop forms, workflow, reports and data
    K2 Studio: Design for the BA, IT and Dev Persona
  4. Visual Studio/IDE Integrated Designer (K2 for Visual Studio) – For a design experience that allows developers extensive reach into theBPM platform, an integration with an IDE is critical to get projects done quickly.
    Visual Studio Workflow Plugin
    K2 for Visual Studio: The Fully Integrated Design Experience

    Thoughts on the design experience and BPM/BPA?