Saturday, 21 November 2009


I have had a copy of Igrafx process since 2000 and I love it for process mapping.

Visio is just too fiddly for me and although many clients insist on it it is only either because it is cheap and forms part of the standard build or due to ignorance.

I like the igrafx set of products because more expensive analysis tools like process work on artifacts created in cost effective tools like flowcharter.

It is the ability to supply less expensive version to the troops and only spend serious money for the few that in my view is its financial USP.

When you draw a drawing in Visio that is all you have a drawing with igrfx you can use the map to analyse it or create simulations with the more sophisticated tools in the offering. Igrafx is a layered solution.

It does BPMN now which is great if we are modelling rather than drawing, see the Robert Lamont post, and I think the promotion of standards in maps is of key importance for the re use of artifacts across projects and initiatives.

If you want a highly productive process mapping tool have a look at the range of process tools at Igrafx.

Click the title to have a look at their site.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Office 2007 Productivity in Business

As a Business Architect I use Microsoft office 2003 professional for business running on XP but for home use we have a student version of 2007 purely so my son is working on the new platform to align with what is being used for school.

Last evening I had to use the home machine to do a domestic task, printing some photos, and was starting to play around with the new version. What I found stunning was the fact that nearly everything has moved into different places, menu structures and the like. Most of the functionality seems to be similar but "prettied up" in a icon driven manner. Finding where familiar old things were was a nightmare and to me somewhat frustrating.

What struck me was the productivity impact on business because my speed of doing things was dramatically reduced due to trying to work out where everything had gone.

I thought if this was deployed in a customer services division of say 500 people the short term effect of productivity and customer service coupled with the cost of retraining staff could be considerable, all in pursuit of glitz. This is classic example of technology having impact on people and process without things really being thought through. Although we can't doing anything about it the lesson can help us in situations where we are deploying in house technology because similar effects occur during system implementation.

Software providers tell us all the time that they focus on productivity but here we have a strange reversal.

Larger businesses seem to to run many years behind the consumer, probably two sets of upgrades old, so I wonder when 2007 will hit the business sector and what effect it will have. Perhaps by then home uses will already be using 2007 and therefore staff will not see it as a big change?

My own decision is when do I upgrade? most of my clients are still running 2003 or even windows NT or even Office 2000 so from that point of view not yet, however as I train in colleges as well as commercially my own skills are now effectively behind the times. I always considered myself a "super user" of office applications but the experience of the first use 2007 made me gulp.

There is obviously a bit of a learning curve here and the prospect of spending considerable time working through tutorials and guides/books to re build my super user status is a liitle galling when there are more lucrative things to be doing - thanks Bill.

This of course ignores the cost element as buying a new commercial version of Office Professional and Visio plus a laptop capable of driving it all sensibly is the best part of £1000. Don't even mention MS Project because that is serious cash and a subject for another rant!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Missing the Point

I rang a subcontracting training supplier of mine today to ask a question, the person in I needed was not there so I was asked if I could leave a message, great no problem.


"Oh wait a moment I need to load some software".

"Can you write my name and number on a post it please",

"No, we have a CRM system to manage your contacts with us"

Few minutes passes...

"Can I have your postcode?"

"Do we really have to!"

"Yes we do, this is how me maintain our customer relationship".

Five minute later and the call closes....

Just write it on piece of paper and update the system after the call.

When we allow process and technology to annoy the customer in the pursuit of customer relationship management than we have lost the plot it seems to me.

This was a small business not some multi national call centre....should know better.

I put him right but I am not sure it sank in!!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Drawings and Models

A delegate on a recent course, Robert Lamont from NAGE, made an important distinction between drawings and models. Drawings he described as being communicative expressions and models must have full logical integrity. i.e. all pathways and connections must work and make sense. Many process diagrams draw by analysts convey conceptual information and users say:

"That the process"

but when you trace it through and it stops at a decision box and can't carry on then you realise this isn't a model.

Models have to work and be absolutely rule driven whilst drawings are produced to communicate an idea or depict an interpretaion.

Drawings are art and models are science.

Thats why some modelling tools drive us nuts with their logical integrity, i.e. delete a process or change its name on one drawing and it magically disappears everywhere in the tool!

What we are doing is trying to draw not model.So use a drawing tool like visio for drawing and a modelling tool when modelling, many analysts make this basic mistake with tools.

I thought this quite inspirational... Thanks Robert.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Knowledge Genes

I am always a fan of simple tools. Back in the nineties I was introduced to Que Sheet which then became Hyperknowlege and today is known as Knowledge Genes.

It is great for semantic logical models, creating logical modles using words, and I like how it traces the objectives through through to how to deliver those objectives in a breakdown structure.

It uses a How, Why and What format which enables one to trace linkage from business process through to business imperatives; the what element can be used to identify supporting assets. The best benefit for independants like myself in its basic form it is free.

I recently showed this to some delegates on my business architecture course during my businss modelling unit and they were impressed and got quite excited; a lot more than they were with Zachman or TOGAF!

The only downside, from my point of view, it's all thin client with the data residing on the knowledge Genes site. I like control!

As a mobile consultant and trainer I like to be able to work away from an internet connection and then synchonise up later. Control of the package and the data makes me feel more comfortable. So many tools are going server based these days and I'm not sure it is for the best.

Mind you I like software on a CD or DVD with a nice manual and box rather than a download so perhaps I am a bit old fashioned and a control freak.

Have a look at Click the title bar on this post.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Lost Talent

A day doesn't go by at the moment without an old colleague ringing me up saying they have had enough of sitting on the bench waiting for new contract work and have decided to go off and do something different.

Organisations are recruiting some staff but on a permanent basis and trying to get away with salaries that a couple of years ago would not have attracted anyone. It is shameful that out of work contractors are getting the cold shoulder from hiring managers -" We don't like contractors that want to go permanent" well what are they supposed to do leave the industry.

Well that is what is happening - crazy.

In the end it will be the client companies that suffer as when the recession ends and projects need to be done we will hear "where are all the contractors we need", rates will soar and numbers of quality individuals will then be running HIPS companies or therapy salons or whatever and not be interested.

The result of all this is the cream of change is being lost as freelancers represented the more successful and entrepreneurial of our profession, please don't get me wrong there are good permies as well!

So many top quartile professionals are being lost both through economic circumstances and the prejudices, jealousies, of permanent hiring managers. Short term thinking or what!

Friday, 6 November 2009

What is in a title?

I remember a meeting with the finance director of a major motoring organisation who said quite robustly -

"I and my fellow directors are the architects of this business!",

- whilst listening to a presentation from two people who had described themselves as business architects and who were trying to pitch get some interest in mapping out the organisation and its future direction.

In later meetings he used to ridicule people from I.T. who introdued themselves as architects obviously finding the title amusing.

I learnt from this that to some the title of architect is pretentious and threatening! Learning to understand stakeholders and adjusting the approach is the moral of this little tale.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Capability Frameworks Useful?

Nearly ever time I meet up with other business architects, whether whilst delivering training, assignments or during contract interviews people always ask " What do you think of capabilities as a way of representing the business"; well I had a few thoughts on this and wrote an article on the subject which is on a link accessed by clicking on the title bar of this post.

Apologies for pushing you off to the web site but it is a bit long to go on here!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Training in Business Architecture

I came to the conclusion last year that there was no business orientated training available for business architecture.

TOGAF training seems so I.T. focussed and really not that helpful so I built a three day training package. I have delivered this several times in 2009 and it has gone down well.

The only issue I have is that I do get enquiries from individuals but they are never available all at the same time making publically advetised events difficult to schedule.

That is why most of time the course is delivered in house when organisations ask me to run it for them; shame really but that is the way it is.

Click on the title bar on this post to see the course profile.