Interview: Using Wave in a large company

I was speaking with a large company (LC) about around Google Wave. I talked around different areas of Google Wave and how it could relate to LC usage. The audience was very keen to help with their take on the different concepts presented in the document.

A large pain was that it was difficult to get approved new programs by IT. So it was not likely that they could get Firefox installed easy because it had to be tested on other applications. The same is true for new service. They had to be approved, before it could be implemented in the organization. I think that this will be valid in many organizations. IT doesn’t want to support too many features or services and want to consolidate on fewer services. Consolidation has been a mantra for many IT architects to get a environment, which is easier to understand. So there needs to be a lot of reasons to install a new implementation.

The company is currently using Microsoft Communicator and Sharepoint. It seems only to be really well used in some departments. The usage depends on if they have found it useful and their colleagues also are using it. Collaboration without anyone to collaborate with is not fun. It will probably also be true for how Wave can be implemented, the usage will vary much based on the departments. If you know that nobody in marketing is using Wave, then you don’t want to start a Wave with them because you will never get a response.

It could be difficult for find a single use case, where Wave will have a business case. There might be lots of smaller, but it was not easy to find. It would be easier to get wave implemented if it could help customer service with saving x minutes pr call.

They looked for a unified product for communication. If they had to continue to have Email, Skype, MS communicator, Facebook, Sharepoint and portals along with Google Wave, it will be to take some extra time for organizing. They would then have to check all inboxes at the same time.

We also talk around cloud computing and SaaS. LC is currently using offsite project management system to control their implementations. They feel confident in this tool and that their data are safe. It is a kind of interesting to see they are 100% secure in a product they have used for a long time, even it is run at remote hosting partner probably using a shared service. In general LC is not into SaaS, because of the potential security risks or lack of control.


The Wave modelling tool created by SAP.

LC is a large SAP shop and have implemented SAP for all their businesses. LC have not selected any BPM suite at the moment, but was looking into different options. I showed a short demo of how the Gravity gadget works; they were impressed with the collaboration part. LC is currently using Ids Sheers ARIS for processes modeling, which is a modeling tool with a lot of integrations to SAP.

  • Use of Gravity requires a lot of process knowledge. Currently the business uses cannot define the processes them self. To define the processes business users are meeting with the process architects and trying to agree on a process model.
  • Aris is currently standard for modeling in the company. The problem is that Aris models are used in different ways across the organization. So it is difficult to use a common model. Gravity or an easy collaboration tool could be interesting for having a single place for documenting the model.
  • Gravity and Wave can be a place where process documentation is made. If the correct meta data is create it easier for the users to find the relevant process information.
  • Gravity should be easier for the business users to use, so they have a fair chance of drawing processes. With Aris it is a bit difficult to get started with modeling. It was unclear, if the business could draw the whole process them self or if they needed help. The business was able to make changes to the process already created.
  • There was a focus on creating the process model as a collaborative process. After the model was complete, the model should be handed over the development department. Development should do the implementation of the processes. That way it will be possible for all parties to be involved.
  • It would be nice with two way import/export features, but it did not seem like the most relevant. Especially not since they have not selected a BPM tool.
  • It could assist over telephone or other ways to help the business remote with designing their processes.

I did talk with a medical firm about their needs for sign their processes model. They need to be sure the process was reviewed by somebody to pass the requirements in various medical laws. Currently this is not possible using Gravity, but it could be possible to make some steps and a place to have your processes.

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Working with Gravity for process modeling in practice

At the SAP Teched in Phoenix there event BPX process slam, we worked with SAP NetWeaver Collaborative Business Process Modelling (formerly Gravity) to create a process model. In the SAP community a BPX is a Business Process Expert, a person with technical and business experience. BPX process slam is an event, where different people from the SAP community were working with different tools to create a common process. All was focusing on creating some tools for a community driven power plant. The event was covered by Sandy Kemsly

My group’s goal was to test how collaboration can be done with Wave and Gravity. We were on 7 people of which 2 were in Europe, so we had to do some offline work. Our result is on the SAP wiki.

We first started to get used to the Gravity tool. It took some time to figure out how it could be used. There were people who were new to Wave, which need to see Wave and Gravity. This was not difficult with a small introduction. They seemed to pick up the usage really fast sand found it interesting.

We started to work on the process. We had to figure out what the business process it was that we were going to design on. There where multiply different process ideas that we was working on and how the models should be created. It will probably require some thoughts to figure out what the process vision is, and how the process is suppose to work. There should probably be written something about this before a collaboration can take place. If all participants know what the process should be around the collaboration will be easier.

After we started collaborating it went pretty smooth. It was possible to see each other changes and make corrections to the process. So Gravity did work well for the collaboration.

I found that the process model took up most of the screen, also on larger computers than my 10″. This means that people have to scroll around to find the collaboration area of the text. That was probably not an ideal place to work with process modeling.

When modeling the process it is required that the users has some modeling experience. The models can be quite difficult to use if you are not familiar with process models. The annotations to describe the process worked really well, they gave an overview of what was going on.

The resulting process is in this image, a larger can be seen on the wiki.

Since it is a demo version of Gravity there are some features which would make the tool more useful. The layout of the functions gets pretty messy; it would be nice if there was an auto layout feature. The shadow around the elements can be difficult to see how made them. The actions could only have around 15 characters, so you need to describe your process shortly. Lastly the modeling should be easier for users to do, so business users can use it.

Gravity has some great features and could be a really interesting application, if it was developed to a fully fledged product. It would promote Wave as a place where business value could be created easily. I hope there will be more tools, which can achieve the same level of collaboration with the users.

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