Software AG expands support services for BPM projects

ORLANDO—German-based business process management (BPM) vendor Software AG announced two new support services for customers, designed to address common BPM project pain points, which will make available quicker access to experts in R&D and specific technical knowledge.

The services, ActiveCare and MaxPerform, were announced at the company’s annual user conference ProcessWorld 2011 in this city.

Ivo Totev, Software AG’s chief services officer who heads global consulting services, told ComputerWorld Canada the new support offerings are borne out of customers’ requests to better leverage the investments they’ve already made in their IT environment. More at ProcessWorld 2011: Software AG continues MDM push with Trillium Alliance

ActiveCare, said Totev, is an effort to recognize that customers may need a sort of short-term support—for a few weeks, but not years—in addition to regular support during certain “high-density” periods in the typical lifecycle of a BPM initiative.

“In these dense periods, when people are under stress … they really want to have dedicated resources they can call, who then are very well connected to R&D and who can provide the answers, hopefully quicker,” said Totev.

MaxPerform, is a support service that offers specific technical expertise to help customers identify from among myriad components in their IT landscape—network, database, hardware, virtual machines, etc.—where lies the problem in their BPM initiative.

“It can be very complex to figure out, in this environment, what is causing the delay,” said Totev.

Following Software AG’s merger two years ago with IDS Scheer, a German vendor of the process design platform ARIS, the resultant unified consulting services division has broadened in expertise to support customers from start to finish in a BPM project. Part of that change has been to build out competency centres, including one that focuses on “model to execute” expertise, a need reflected in the integration of ARIS and Software AG’s execution engine WebMethods.

“We think this closed loop will bring in projects much more focused and much more on the spot where they should be,” said Totev. “So the acceptance of version one will be much higher than what it used to be.”

Totev said Software AG’s global consulting services division has seen itself move to “higher-value projects,” citing 20 customer deals in excess of $3 million in the past year alone.

One such “lighthouse” project in Canada is a financial institution engaged in a large SAP implementation, said Totev.

But, in general, in the Canadian market, Software AG’s footprint is an equal split between customers in the enterprise and small-to-medium markets. The company’s presence among Canadian SMBs, said Totev, is as a result of the acquisition of IDS Scheer.

Moving forward, Totev said the goal is to “raise the maturity” of Software AG’s consulting services to cater to more industries. Specifically, Canada’s mill and mining industry is one area the company is looking to explore.

With Software AG’s recent moves to add cloud, in-memory, master data management, mobile and social capability to its BPM platform, the consulting side of the business is also expanding accordingly. “That’s the beauty of this model. It’s scalable,” said Totev. Additional centres of excellence for virtualization and master data management now exist.

Also at the ProcessWorld conference, Deb Boykin, director of business process management with New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc., shared her experience with BPM in mergers and acquisitions.

After acquiring Wyeth, another pharmaceutical, in 2009, Pfizer underwent an initiative to align business processes from both companies into a single global model. The project entailed establishing a governance team tasked with keeping control and balance of processes, ensuring they are created in the best interest of the company.

The team entailed executive sponsors, process owners and process drivers—each having a different level of responsibility ranging from high level championing of the initiative to more tactical daily tasks.

Boykin said the goal was not to redesign existing processes from scratch, but to get users to “understand what the business processes are and where they, as individuals, fit in the process.”

Nor was the goal to arrive at perfect global model. Boykin said 85 per cent standardization of processes was “good enough … because not everybody is going to be able to completely follow the global model.”

After mobilizing a governance team, the following steps were to endorse the model, assess process synergies to implement best practices, then finally deploy the model.

Boykin said, moving forward, the key is to monitor the model by identifying performance metrics. “We can’t just leave it there. Once we birth this process, there’s this continuous improvement activity that must happen,” said Boykin.

With the acquisition now of King Pharmceuticals by Pfizer, Boykin said the same process will apply as it did with Wyeth. “We will go through the exact same process,” she said.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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