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64KWhen examining business and technical trends, particularly with today’s social media hyperbolic echo chambers’ constant blare, it is instructional to look at history and understand how we got to where we are.

In the case of IBM Case Manager (ICM) I first noted, began paying attention to it in late 2010, reaching out to IBM ECM Education and saying that as soon as there was a class for it I was interested. (Sidebar to the technologists: Always try to stay in the vanguard, bleeding edge pays. I’ll explain more later). So, in the fall of 2011 I trotted off and took IBM Advanced Case Manager (ACM) Installation concurrent with attending FileNet P8 5.0 Installation that particular week. I took the latter class with a then-client present in the room and will hit them up in the #SoC series later.

Back then it was Advanced Case Manager and dependent upon the vendor the ‘A’ stood for something else – ‘Advanced,’  (IBM), ‘Adaptive’ (ISIS Papryus, more on @maxjpucher later. Remember the history part on this series throughout) or even a different letter – Dynamic Case Management (Pega). We’ll come to each of those in turn. On the Big Blue side of things suffice to say that within the course of the past four, five years everything has come to have an “I” in front of it. Go figure.

Flash forward to current times and everybody pretty much generically just says “Case Management” and leaves it at that. 😉

ICM 5 InstallationTurning back to ICM c.2010/2011 the installation chronology for installing, configuring and deploying the apps (plural) was thus. For ICM it’s important to remember that in FileNet P8 5.0 Process Engine (one of the three app servers in the base “triad” of P8) was newly made a Java (not J2EE) app and that Content Engine and Workplace/XT were JEE apps on middleware, as was/is ICM.

ICM 5_2And, moving forward in time five years, PE has now been folded in with CE to be “CPE,” Content Process Engine, on middleware though the table structures in the underlying DB(s) are still there. More on that later as we dive down as that aspect’s importance, relevance is examined vis-a-vis the other platforms we’re going to look at. However, we still have three .EARs and one .WAR deployed out on WebSphere. By the way, the discourses on ICM are pretty much going to look at it from a “blue-washed” perspective so you can pretty much assume WebsFear throughout this series whenever I talk about ICM.

Now, though users and most people who aren’t on the bare metal probably don’t care that much about a bottom-up, systems architecture view on any of this I give it to you, point it out because whether they know, care, or acknowledge it or not a platform’s legacy and architecture very, very much determine how it does things the way it does. How the technology effects the business functionality, which things it does well, how and why. All of these platforms and their technology have idiosyncrasies and what I like to call “tips, tricks and traps.” All have been around long enough now to have an empirical body of knowledge and history of what constitutes best practices for that given platform and its underlying technology.

For this opening salvo I just want to point out that, in the case of ICM, it is an application (dare I say “framework?”) that sits on TOP of IBM Case Foundation (nee IBM FileNet P8) and needs ICF in order to do its thing. Other than a couple of kinks I’ll point out, the same is not true of the other platforms we’re going to examine, dive down into. Each has their pro’s and con’s.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • The smoke and mirrors truly are there to distract, keep you from looking behind the curtains.
  • ““Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

What’s next?

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BPMCM15_Panel

Going back through the agenda and thinking of the sessions I attended, revisiting the conversations in the rooms and sidebars both in my head.

Thoughts

  • If you’re going to hold a conference with some terms – ‘BPM,’ ‘Case Management’ – in the title, you should probably spell their definitions out at the very beginning and (probably) repeatedly throughout. – Can’t count how many times in those two days I heard some variation of “I don’t even know what case management is,” including coming from an enterprise architect at my table Tuesday morning during the day’s opening keynotes. We – insiders – take what we know for granted a little bit too much methinks. Not everyone has our lens.

For case management, for now, I’m going to go with this –

Gagne

It’s a bottom-up view, but the top-down right now is all vendors and their definitions are platform specific at this time.

  • Other’s opinions aside, people love Big Blue. The “Case Management – What are the Components” session on Tuesday before lunch had by far the biggest attendance of any session across the days’ sessions. People stacked up on the back wall. – Big Blue makes people feel warm and fuzzy. I’ll refrain from entering my own opinion on the matter for a bit yet.
  • Newbies are deer in the headlights. – The thought speaks for itself.

Myths

  • There is still a great divide between (traditional) IT and the business; IT is an inhibitor. – I don’t know why this old saw keeps getting dredged up, nor where those who are doing it come from, but the world I hang out in – the real world – this has not been a true statement for a long time. Political fiefdoms and ambitious machinations, from any quarter, on the other hand…
  • “Documenting as-is is good.” “Documenting as-is is bad.” – Another one that keeps getting thrashed about repeatedly. Here I will go Agile and say “to the necessary degree of understanding.” If it accomplishes some productive, tangible purpose do it.
  • Case management is better than traditional BPM. – No, it is not. Substantially more subtle and nuanced than the very wide net that opinion (and it IS an opinion), statement makes. Just wait, watch and see. <hee-hee>

Half-Truths

  • Agile is new and can solve a lot (all? depends upon how much Kool-Aid you drink) of your problems. – Well, “no,” it’s not really new, but the people who are still espousing it as a panacea and those who don’t know better still seem to keep coming back ’round year after year. Kind’a like the “BPM 101” crowd you see at conferences every year with a significant contingent still there wondering what it is and how it can help them, but I digress. Bottom line – methodology is good, execution is better. Way better.
  • Data scientists exist. – “Half-truths,” remember? Think about it.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • A lot of people fly along at 20,000′ feet, but far more are in the trenches, on the ground. Few “traverse the cloud” between the two, fewer still do it well. We’re going to work on that.

What’s next? Stay tuned, that’s what’s next.

#BPM Semantics

Moderator: We begin our classroom with the questionnaire of Bernard Pivot Table, what’s your favorite BPM word?

Me: “Work object.”

Moderator: That’s two words.

Me: DKDN.

Moderator: What is your least favorite BPM word?

Me: “Outcomes.” It’s a horse-sh^t new word for an old concept. There’s too many of those.

Moderator: What in BPM turns you on?

Me: Clients with a clue.

Moderator: What in BPM turns you off?

Me: Stupid, rude ones who don’t have one.

Moderator: Have one what?

Me: A clue.

Moderator: What BPM sound or noise do you love?

Me: Machine room HVAC units.

Moderator: Pardon?

Me: Think about it.

Moderator: What BPM sound or noise do you hate?

Me: Post-Its falling from a JAD wall. Little BPM kittens die when that happens.

Moderator: Can you actually hear that?

Me: I can.

Moderator: What is your favorite BPM curse word?

Me: One won’t do, I have a litany. You’d have to ply me with barley pops to get it out of me, but it ends with “piece of pig sh^t.” It’s usually referring to a process definition.

Moderator: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

Me: Billionaire recluse.

Moderator: What profession would you not like to attempt?

Me: BPM industry analyst. Remember the Millerites? No one goes up the hill a third time.

Moderator: If process improvement exists what would you like to hear when you arrive at the grail?

Me: Congratulations, you’re a bill.

Is there a moral to our story Mr. Peabody?

  • Nah, just try the above for yourself and have some fun with it.

What’s next?

“Higher highs and lower lows”

Of all the bosses out thereIt’s very different when you have employees and you’re not in the trenches with them. You can only do so many things, you certainly can’t be in two places at the same time, so you delegate, you monitor, you advise. You pick the best people, you EMPOWER them and hopefully they don’t stick their foot in your mouth. BTDT, still paying for it on one particular instance. More later in the ‘Consulting 1nn’ series. It’s one of the critical differentiators between a technical person and a consultant.

Back in the day I had a closet full of O’Sullivan 36″ x 72″ oak executive desks I’d picked up for cheap from AFW and the first thing you did on your first day, male or female, was you assembled your own desk. Previous interviews and hiring decision already made aside, it was a good test to see how well an individual could read and follow instructions and execute on those instructions. Those desks were a bear. I remember one individual doing it in about two hours and another taking most of the day, most everyone else somewhere in between. All persevered through and completed the task solo as instructed, myself included the day we moved into our first office and the original “Fantastic Four” were spinning up.

Long before we heard of (or were annoyed by) a “daily standup” I was pulling everyone back into the office on Friday mornings for a “full house meet-up” in the big conference room, asking “Where you at? How are things going? Do you need anything from me?” Making sure all the teams across all the engagements were aware of where everyone else was at, occasionally slotting bodies back and forth as the need arose, keeping a mindful eye on those who could run with it, those who needed more supervision with an eye towards the future. I’d learned to do this from a prior mentor of my own who truly taught me the art of systems analysis and who, later, I hired to go do the same for me.

It was fun to watch (still is, even the grousing), fun to hear stories out on the floor, be regaled with war stories by my own crew as team members talked about this gig or that on Friday afternoons when those with an inclination want to hang and break beer.

No particular story or tale here about this or that gig for this post. It is, after all, just a stream of consciousness. Just noting that it’s important to do these kinds of things, formally and informally both. Take the time to have everyone knock off early on a Friday afternoon and go catch a movie, have some brews afterwards and let your people know they’re doing a good job.

It’s important to have that unity, that fun and enjoyment of each other’s company because there will be days where the cloud linings are dark and you need to know who’s willing to pop their head(s) up out of the foxhole with you and who’s not.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • My biggest entrepreneurial lesson learned over the years certainly hasn’t been a technological one, nor has it been finance or marketing or operations. It’s been HR. It’s been people. A lot of people pay lip service to that, espouse and proselytize it, but you truly are only as good as your people. Choose wisely.

SP3 Rig“Sometimes you have to spend money to save money.” – Mad Max

The first goal was to just be mobile. It came at the price of a pretty penny, over $3K for a stout little brick of a Toshiba Satellite Pro T300CS from CDW. Remember when you clipped the trackball mouse into the side of the laptop and rolled it around with your thumb? That little guy finally went to Staples recycling a couple of years ago in a big box with a lot of other electronics. Yeah, I horde computers, electronics and gadgets.

The goal segued quickly into being able to transition back and forth easily between the office and the road, and whilst everyone at home base had a mid-sized tower, tube monitor (remember Cornerstones and the big ImageAccel graphic cards?), cabled keyboard and mouse, I had a Dell Latitude with docking station that our network admin installed for me as I wandered around between DEN, LGA, RDU, MIA and BGI at the time. Had a stretch there where new hires were showing up whilst I was on the road and I didn’t get the chance to welcome them in person until several weeks after coming on-board.

Returning to the on-going laptop upgrade saga, soon the goal became 15″ UXGA LCDs and 1600×1200. That was satisfied in the form of a Dell Inspiron 5000 w/DVD player. Watching movies on the flight back from EWR every week I was a big frog. Briefly enamored with Dell for a few years there I fell out of “like” after an Inspiron 5150’s HDD imploded on a bumpy mid-summer flight and their support was less than accommodating. You never know how dead in the water you truly are ’til you lose your machine on the road. At the same time, the UXGA goal morphed into “15-inch UXGA LCD, 2GB RAM, 100GB hard drive (or higher) and under 5#” during the height of my road-warrioring.

Of course some clients saddled me with a second laptop and I would immediately P2V them with VMware Workstation, running their unit on mine as a VM because I really hate unbagging and bagging two machines at airport security. Hey, it’s still “their” machine, has their security and software on it. I nuke ’em when done, NAT be cool, Citrix Metaframe, Cisco VPN, Juniper and MSTSC be cooler.

cocoonEven more evolution entailed being DR-enabled on the road (.ISOs and bootable CDs, DVDS, bootable jump drives later), data duplicated to external enclosures (the cloud now of course) and connected on site with WWAN and EVDO cards. Thus began a long phase of ThinkPads, rapidly moving through the succession of an A31P > T42P > X300 > T61P > W500 > W510 > W520 > X1 > T430s and, of course, I had docking stations and port replicators, travel adapter kits, monitor stands and a host of other “doo-dad’s.” Concurrently coming to pay finer attention to warranties, the differences between “depot” ones, on-site ones and “next day” ones, their duration and attendant cost.

In between, interspersed throughout, I’ve dabbled with Sager, a 17″ Compaq NX9420, a Gigabyte P34G-CF1 gaming rig (great power in a light package, but throttles on battery) and an HP EliteBook 840 G1, having come to appreciate and love IPS panels later in life. At least twenty-six machines in twenty-one years as I run through them in my head, some held on to as briefly as only three months as I’ve continuously quested along. I’ve literally spent tens of thousands of dollars on this, sometimes not as wisely as I should as I’ve pursued the grail.

All along there’s been the sought after increases in processor speed, memory and storage which always, invariably triggered the jump from one machine to the next. Most of this transacted on eBay (still no shilling, they drive me nuts sometimes, particularly of late, may finally swear off) for me and mine both, selling an old unit to offset the cost of a new one, but still, usually, doing about .40 to .60 on the dollar versus retail. Sometimes doing very well in that regard, sometimes getting plundered. Hardware devalues QUICK. As of late has been the migration from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge to Haswell to Broadwell and, soon, Skylake.

Bigger hard drives, solid-state hard drives, memory sticks and even LCDs (geez what a pain), I’ve upgraded and swapped out all many, MANY times, learning that it’s far cheaper to buy stock and upgrade after the fact on your own, my tools (toys) of trade having become Easeus Partition Manager, Macrium Reflect and 1GB crossover Ethernet cables. Yaaay PCs! Macs suck. Disk geometry on Western Digital Scorpio Black HDDs suck too.

Most recently, after many years of hauling around twenty-plus pounds of hardware I’ve trended down on weight and now, even screen size as I go lighter and still maintain power, memory and storage as much as I can. The current, and most likely penultimate machine, Microsquish Surface Pro 3 pretty much gives me what I had three machines back in a package half as light and, as a two-in-one, I’ve also lost the Android tablet. I’ve dropped from 22# on my back to 9.5# on my shoulder in less than two years. And hoo-dawg do I like rumbling through airports like this; don’t even unbag it at security.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • Whether you know it or know, pursue it as relentlessly as I and some others do, you’re only good as your mobile infra. Invest and protect accordingly based upon your own needs and what you want to accomplish.
  • Someday I’ll give up the raft of laptop backpacks, satchels and bags I’ve accumulated too. Wonder what all the ones from conferences are worth.
  • Smartphones’ and tablets’ screen sizes are all over the board and their power, like everything else, is continually improving, but until they can do touch holographics and 100% voice recognition accuracy laptops aren’t going away. You heard it here first.

What’s next?

new-york1First day working on site I get invited to go out for “pie” at lunch. Not thinking, naivete or both I thought “Sure, I’m up for a piece of apple pie at lunch.” On the curb in the gloom as we’re walking to the pizza parlor a transient confronts me gruffly and says (demands?) “Give me some money!” Immediate, instinctive response I snarl right back “Get the f^ck away from me!”

“You can’t do that.” Me – “why?” “You don’t know if he has a gun or a knife or something.” Me – “I don’t give a shit, f^ck him.” “Oh yeah, you’ll be fine here.” Two months later I’m on the phone crying to my wife “Why are these people so f^cking meeean?!” Four months later my wife’s gasping in horror back home in Colorado at King Soopers (Kroeger, Smiths, Ralphs for those across the rest of the country) as I go off on a guy in the fast checkout lane with 11 items. “He wouldn’t get away with that !@#$ shit at Gristedes!”

I have lots of originals – axioms, sayings, platitudes – but Manhattan is where I coined “Pay my rate I’ll serve food in the cafeteria, I’ll sweep the halls.” Or install IDM Desktop for that matter. [shrug] I also coined some real good verbiage about what Manhattan smells like. Ask me sometime. Then the first time you ever go there and think about it you’ll go “he’s right.” In any event, my first slog to the Big Apple is where I met “Zippy.” The query posed, standing outside my cubicle was “Have you met Zippy yet?” Who? “Zippy is [name’s] evil alter-ego. If you have a closed door session with Zippy it won’t go well.”

Suffice to say, yes, “Zippy” was a pretty sinister character. My encounter was, after my first six months on the road solo ever and per my contract term, I wanted to go home, see the wife and kids. Zippy wanted none of that and threatened to bad-mouth me with the vendor and in the FileNet community, assuring me I’d never get a gig again. I believed him. I was dumb.

Zippy’s lashing of his minions and his minions’ awareness of the outside world as learned from another consultant and I resulted in a span of a couple of months there where we all went to Pinkie’s on the upper east-side at 76th and 1st every other Friday to bid adieu to another minion expatriating to the outside world and heading off on their own. Such that, within six months, the only ones left were the consultants. I still know where all those guys are and talk to them from time to time on LinkedIn as we get news about somebody from the original “crew” across the country. My deepest, heartfelt condolences on the latest news this past summer.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • I’ve been a LOT of places over the years. I’ve spent three and a half years in the tri-state area alone spanning five engagements over the decades. I like New Yawk City better than I do Los Angeles. Sure, they may be a little gruff, but at least you know they’re there. In La-La Land many are self-absorbed space cadets and you have to snap your fingers in their face going “Hello, McFly.”
  • When I did get home I took my United Airlines Mileage Plus miles and koopuns and took the wife to Maui. And I gave her a flawless 1 carat diamond solitaire from the diamond district. My first vacation ever. I’ve had one since. Two in twenty years. Pretty good for me.
  • This site is one of several over the years where I’ve had a subsequent, repeat performance. When I went back the second time five years later I inquired about “Zippy” and learned he’d died of a heart attack.
  • My next encounter with a dastardly fellow I was up for none of it and by the third encounter at another site I got a “We thought [name] was the blood on the walls guy. Little did we know it was you.” from a director of IT at that site. It’s important to play nice. We’ll talk about that more later.
  • Few things in this life give me more pleasure than sitting on a bench outside the temple on the upper east side at 79th & 2nd talking brisket with little old Jewish ladies. They’re great.
  • They don’t do it anymore since 911, but flying up the East River into LaGuardia at night with the Manhattan skyline out your plane seat window on your left, it was spectacular.
  • That which does not kill you leaves a mark.

What’s next?

“You see this guy, he’s going to be a millionaire.” – This from the VP of development for a Beltway integrator upon first meeting at breakfast in a Marriott Hotel restaurant far from home.

I don’t even recall the initial contact, but they came after me for WorkFlo Power Libraries (PowerBuilder) and I was the road warrior newbie. No “Silky J,” no gigantic org picking up my travel tab, just me, myself and me bootstrapping. And they were desperate. So desperate (as was I) and accommodating that every Friday evening before I flew back out I’d e-mail them an invoice for that week’s work and every Saturday morning the next day I’d have an overnight FedEx of a check in my hand. Never since have I had such an arrangement.

amex-premier-rewards-goldIn turn, because they wouldn’t touch me otherwise, I made weekly payments to American Express running a positive balance on the card, paying them to let me use their card to access my own money until such time as I became credit-worthy in their eyes. Needless to say, this engagement and the next, six months later I had a gold American Express and was handing them out to my employees, but I digress. (Sidebar: take the time to read that ginormous terms of service agreement on an American Express card. Any corporate grunt who has a corporate issued one that their company reimburses their travel expenses will tell you the fine print says you’re personally guaranteeing the charges. It’s why everybody hustles to get their travel expense reports in and paid. More on that later).

The macro on this engagement is that it was a classic case of hugely underestimating the task at hand – how long, how hard. The micro was, because I was only supposed to be there a few weeks and already had a gig lined up beyond this one with a start date, that they were so desperate they paid for a couple of colleagues, including Cujo, to fly down one weekend and assist. I showed Cujo and the kid my code, explained the API, instructed them to emulate my code and ask questions if they had any, then we did as much damage as we could. Long days, long nights eating and drinking with my newly created posse; I would hire Cujo and the kid both within a matter of weeks of this little adventure. Horrible, long flights back in the very back row of the plane in the middle seat, but I was young, tough and determined.

I moved on shortly as scheduled, they were still banging away and we left poor little Sveta on her own. I’m sure she persevered through and they got a solution in, but equally sure nowhere as quick and easy as they had thought or supposed. It really should have been three or four developers versed in the API for at least three or four months. I’m still connected on LinkedIn to the project manager and correspond from time-to-time twenty years later. He actually later moved to Denver, has moved around a fair bit himself. Good guy. Got a couple of recommendations from the VP of development guy too over the years.

In retrospect, I should have stayed and seen it through, bowed out of the NYC opportunity because it was there that I met “Zippy,” he tore me a new one and I learned more (not all of it good) besides.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • Life is strange and wonderful both.
  • I have many stories accrued over the years, good and bad both. Regaling has usually only happened over beers, chips and salsa with the crew, but I can be pretty entertaining when storytelling over barley pops with others, right @piewords, right @bduhon, right @JimSinur? I can be “the life of the party.” I only need just the one beer, I’m an aminal. 🙂
  • I can also be fierce. I am fierce. “Zippy,” multiple others and life have ordained it.

What’s next?