Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Third Birthday to Innowix – Future Plans

This is the third installment of "Celebrating Innowix's 3rd Birthday" blog entries. We are making some of our plans public and invite comments, feedback and even expect to collaborate a bit with some of you.

Plans for 2011

  1. Hire at least 2 (two) architects in the company as partners

    To be achieved by Q2-2011

    Even though I have people working for me, I am looking for those key confidants who can come along and join the adventure. There are always risks in running a company but the rewards and fun outweigh the risks. I have been talking to few folks whom I respect very much and have invited them to join. I am very hopeful that some of them will see the benefits and come over (Mr. AP, AM, VP, PV, NP, DD, VC, NG and PB – are you reading this?).

  2. Sign-on two new clients

    To be achieved by Q2-2011

    Even though Innowix has been doing well so far, we are dependent on one or two clients. This has to change to reduce the risks and dependency on one client. Hopefully this will materialize by early 2011.

  3. Delivery of at least one project as prime (preferably leveraging the case management framework)

    To be achieved by Q4-2011

    This one is a tricky one and little difficult to achieve! However, without a successful implementation, a framework is no good. It will be very sad to say "There are no case studies for the Case Management framework"! Hopefully that will not be the case.

  4. Achieve certifications in the area of Project Management Professional (PMP), The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) ( and IT Architecture Certification (

    To be achieved by Q1-2011

    These are obvious and should have done few years back but I guess the timing is right now.

  5. Work on few "Hobby" projects which may turn into new service offerings in future

    Throughout 2011 (not having a specific target may not be such a good idea! Let's see how this goes through 2011.)

    These are exciting times in the technology industry. New consumer technology platforms are emerging as giants in the IT industry and before we know it, they will be invading the Business IT. Apple and Google are classic examples. Some of the Business IT solutions are now trying to find their foothold in the consumer area. Then there are some who are trying to "cross-pollinate" technologies and solutions in various domains and we would love to be one of those key players. Innowix has been playing with quite a few ideas (some of them are good and some are lame – at least from my perspective) and one or two look promising.

    These projects include developing applications on Windows 7 & Windows Mobile 7 and Android, iOS (including Apple TV!). The applications we are focusing on will be business centric and less consumer centric. However, if an idea comes up which makes sense then consumer facing application will also be a good starting point.

    Building something like this alone may not be feasible which we are trying to manage the cash flow and future growth. So, I may be looking for partners who have similar interests. If anybody is interested in investing some funding, we are all open for it!

  6. Offer Architecture Workshops to potential clients

    By Q1-2011

    Again, Innowix is partnering with couple of key partners who have been very supportive of us in our past endeavors. To drive further projects for Innowix and our partners, Innowix will offer a one day Architecture workshop free of cost to our clients where we will come in and review their IT processes and practices (Enterprise Architecture, Governance, IT Strategies, Technology Platforms, related implementation strategies and governance, Solution delivery methodologies and practices, Future trends and adoption approaches etc.) and provide high-level guidance on where they should focus. Obviously one day is not sufficient for us to gather and assess everything thoroughly but we are confident that we should be able to hit few high-level points effectively. Innowix also stands to gain an understanding of our client's industry and their IT practices to enrich and validate our IT architecture approaches. Our Innowix Architecture Framework will serve as a Solution Accelerator for such a workshop.

Conclusion and answer to question – "What does Innowix do"?

As I had mentioned in my previous blog post "Envisioning and Pragmatic execution - Two faces of progress" (, we have to maintain our balance while looking forward and running. Our future plans are driven by this philosophy. Few items are strictly for the "balancing and running" and few are wishes for "forward looking" projects and plans.

In general, Innowix is in the business of innovative application of information technology to solve business problems and improve business efficiencies. The focus has always been on IT architecture as streamlined IT architecture has the most positive impact on the application of information technology.

Your comments, feedback, inputs and pointers will be highly appreciated. Of course, if you wish to collaborate with us on any of these, please drop us a note via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Happy Third Birthday to Innowix – Tasks and Projects in Progress

This is the second blog entry celebrating Innowix's 3rd Birthday where we describe some of the work-in-progress projects and tasks.


Work-in-progress (To be completed in next 2 to 3 months)

  1. Helping a bank in Asia Pacific with setting up a Business Process Management (BPM) Center of Excellence (CoE)

    This is a very interesting project where I am utilizing some of the Innowix training material around BPM and validating the approaches and recommended practices. For any large organization such as this Bank's, the technology is not an issue but the application of technology within the constraints and frameworks of the organization becomes bigger challenge.

    [Sidebar thoughts] The interesting thing is that the bank's BPM platform is FileNet P8 BPM. The issue I have is whether that is a long-term viable BPM platform for an organization when IBM has WebSphere Process Server (also being utilized at the Bank for system workflow) and Lombardi. Next few months will tell us how things are going to work out. I would love to see IBM's roadmap which should depict Lombardi forming a process modeling and Business Architecture tool with quite a few traits from Telelogic's Rational System Architect (creating that Social BPM framework), FileNet's Process Engine capabilities merging within WebSphere Process Server Platform with tight integration capabilities with FileNet's Content Engine and Cognos providing business monitoring capabilities (this last part as I understand is already happening). Let's see what IBM say at their Information on Demand 2010 conference and at Impact 2011 conference.

  2. Respond to RFPs and deliver projects in partnership with couple of key players for State Govt clients in Health and Human Services (HIE, Child Support, Child Welfare (SACWIS) etc.), DMV, Education, Unemployment Insurance (UI), Transportation and other domains

    Innowix has been very fortunate to have large consulting houses as our clients. We are tier-1 vendor for one of top five consulting giants in the State and Local Government business. However, from the growth perspective, Innowix has to look at and partner with other players as well who are emerging in this market. We are currently working with couple of such partners who play in different areas within State and Local Government space. Here's hoping to win and deliver couple of good projects together.

  3. Working on building out a flexible framework for Case Management and few other foundation tools to augment technology in the market

    I have been toying with this idea for some time now. More and more I look around and the need for such a case management framework is becoming more evident. However, I am planning to put something together which need not be a complete product which can be simply deployed and being used on day one but rather a set of components which can be integrated into a large line-of-business application which can rely on this framework. This framework will have key integration points for security, document imaging and management, reporting and customer management etc. More on this in future blog entries. The platform of choice is also open. Of course, putting something in the cloud will be the most attractive given the shape of IT industry. However, the architecture is flexible to leverage cloud computing platforms for all or portions of the framework.

  4. Working on maturing training for SOA and Business Process Management (BPM) targeting Executives, Sr. and Mid-level managers, Architects and Designers & Developers

    SOA is now so 2005 buzzword. However, there are still efficiencies to be gained from the adoption of such an approach. Innowix training material serves as an Introduction to SOA and goes into details about adoption approaches, best practices and governance aspects.

    BPM is still a technology which will take next couple of years to mature. SOA forms the underpinning (plumbing approaches) of BPM (business centric application). Executing a BPM project or adopting BPM within an organization requires special attention to defining how businesses can leverage it to become more efficient. BPM is an easier concept for business folks to understand and adopt than SOA.


Next, review our future plans.

Happy Third Birthday to Innowix - Achievements

Well folks, it has been three years since I started in this venture and so far it has been an exciting journey. It is not all smooth sailing as we had few ups and downs (mostly positives!). I am enjoying the lifestyle where I know my constraints and limits and what I can do with those limited means. No complaints or regrets whatsoever.

On this third anniversary, I thought of writing down the achievements, work-in-progress items and most importantly future plans.


  1. Definition and application of Innowix Architecture Framework and related Solution Accelerators

    I have blogged about Innowix Architecture Framework before here. I had a chance to apply it to my second engagement for defining IT Strategy for one of the southern states. The framework helped define clear context for each branch of the organization and define their goals, processes, deliverables and transformation roadmap.

  2. IT Strategy for a southern state

    This project was completed back in 2009 where we helped the CIO of the Transportation Cabinet of this state define an IT Strategy for effective IT services delivery.

  3. Architecture assessment and Performance Engineering for an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system for a healthcare provided in Detroit area

    This project was completed back in 2008 where Innowix helped setup a Performance Engineering approach for a large EHR project running on Microsoft .NET platform.

  4. DMV Solution for an eastern state

    Engaged on a large project and led the architecture definition for technology platform and help arrive at application architecture. This is for a state government in the doming of Motor vehicles.

    The project itself is an enterprise-wide system modernization and implementation project encompassing business processes for most of the agency and their field offices. We are utilizing IBM WebSphere suite of products.

    Innowix led and completed the formal deliverables for the technology platform definition. Innowix was also responsible for planning out the functionality for first release of the project which went into Pilot this month and is being deployed around the state. This release consists of document scanning and management for specific business process based on EMC Captiva and IBM FileNet products.

    We are now engaged in system design and development specifically in the area of implementing business processes on IBM WebSphere Process Server and SOA and Interfaces implementation using WebSphere Message Broker.

This has been a very exciting project where I have met tons of talent and a great customer team. Traveling to the location was a little downside but in an all it has been a fantastic experience.


Next up, check out what are we working on.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BPM Implementation - Answers to couple of questions on LinkedIn BPM Group

Somebody asked a question on LinkedIn Group on BPM Implementation. The complete thread can be found at:

Here are the two questions and what follows is my attempt at answering these questions. Comments are welcome – either here or on the LinkedIn group.


BPM Implementation

My organisation is in the process of evaluating various BPM vendors based on a POC by each vendor. Looking for inputs in 2 areas:

1. We would like to restrict the BOM to 'must have's". Can someone tell me what should be the ideal BOM to keep the budget within control.

2. What scope of work should we engage the vendor? for e.g. Can we have 1 of our employees trained by the vendor on the process designer/modeler? The objective being that we can have the vendor setup few processes initially to restrict customization charges.


My answers…

On your Q1:

You should be looking at some of the evaluation criteria from different vendors to get an idea about key functions/features of a BPM system. BPM is a very broad subject area and it can cover many different things depending on who you ask. At the minimal, I would look for following "MUST HAVEs":

  1. Support for system-centric business processes (Typically where humans are not involved). Usually the vendors support these using BPEL. Ensure the level of specification adherence for BPEL.
  2. Human-centric business processes where human actions are required to move through process steps and complete. Usually vendors support this through their own proprietary extension to BPEL or through XPDL.
  3. Document centric business processes where the documents are handled and processed through various steps both by humans and by system in some semi-automated fashion. Some organizations (or some departments within organizations) are heavy users of documents coming in (insurance companies, some government agencies etc.) where they have to process the documents, OCR them, categorize them into many different classes, route them to appropriate people, create responses or trigger the next steps in the process etc. Ensure that ALL appropriate parties in your organizations are represented in your "typical" process models.
  4. Integration of these three different business process types as for a typical business processes, you cannot depict and manage the process using just one of the constructs above.
  5. A modeling tool which can allow you to model, simulate (and allow you to optimize) and implement a process
  6. A design, development and testing environment where you can implement and test the processes (realize process models). Please understand that for implementing a typically complex process, you will be invoking a bunch of services, handing things off to humans for exception handling and other decision making and finally moving few documents around to support the process execution. This requires an integrated set of design, development and testing tool where you can design and implement the services, design and implement the processes, create test stubs and drivers and allow a set of developers to complete the implementation of the process. Also, look for new standard for integrating external services called SCA (assuming you are looking for Java centric BPM suites).
  7. Business rules design and integration is a new aspect which some vendors are introducing in their product line. If your business processes are constantly changing then you want to look at a rules engine.
  8. A way for humans to review the process dashboard to claim tasks, route tasks to others, timeouts and escalations etc. This is also known as a task inbox. Some vendors (e.g., IBM) implement such a user interface and also provide detailed APIs for you to build your own.
  9. Ask the vendors to provide some performance and scalability numbers (how many system-centric processes can execute at any given point of time, how does the system-centric processes scale for a standardized hardware platform that your infrastructure team has, how many in-flight human-centric business process instances can exist etc.). Of course, you will get typical answer that it depends and it does! It depends on the process complexity (number of steps, decision points, external service calls, data elements being transferred from step to step etc.). However, a good vendor will be able to provide some decent performance and volume numbers.
  10. Once you have a process built, it is time to deploy it, run it and manage the execution. Here you are looking for a robust runtime environment with robust monitoring capabilities (I am talking about infrastructure monitoring and not the process monitoring – that topic is next).
  11. Last but not the least, you are looking for Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) type of capabilities where you can identify the steps where the processes seem to get "stuck" or take the most time to complete and then you can analyze as to why. Most vendors with mature product offering will provide a good set of BAM capabilities using some reporting tools.
  12. Last but not the least, the change management process for processes. Imagine, 2 years after you have implemented a bunch of processes you want to make the change in the processes (add new steps, route the steps to different group of people – say outsourced to some external vendor, or some regulation changed and now you have to collect additional data items etc.). This is where the vendors should be able to provide the ease of change. The problem is how to apply the change to those "in-flight" processes.
  13. Licensing is another key issue. Depending on your deal size, vendors may throw in quite a few "freebies". However, think through some scenarios to ensure that a licensing model defined currently may change significantly if your process scenario changes and that will end up costing you a whole lot of money.


In summary, here are some MUST-HAVEs:

  1. Support for BPEL (which level)
  2. Support for human-centric business processes (how and which standards are used)
  3. Support for document/content within the process
  4. Modeling tools support
  5. Design, development and testing tools and standards support
  6. Performance and scalability
  7. BAM capabilities
  8. Change management
  9. License costs

On your Q2:

I would prepare a detailed list of evaluation criteria and ask them to provide answers to those criteria. I would also create a good representative process models from your business (remember – involve as many departments to create realistic process models). However, once you give them the process models, make few changes (just like businesses do) and see their reaction to those changes. For a serious evaluation, get involved in all aspects – modeling, designing, implementing, testing, deploy and monitor. If you have time and money, I would also run some performance and load tests to see how the process infrastructure holds up under heavy demands. The scalability will affect the licensing!

I would also do some "paper analysis" to short-list 2 or 3 vendors and then do detailed hands-on evaluation. I would also request at least 2 or 3 client references which went through such evaluation and picked a vendor. Ask those other clients as to why they picked that vendor. Remember, vendor teams vary quite a bit from client to client and the vendor teams involved in such evaluations also vary in their experience and knowledge.

And lastly some shameless plug! Engage my company Innowix to help with such an evaluation. We have a detailed methodology for such a technical evaluation along with some readymade set of evaluation criteria for BPM suite selection which you can start from.

Good luck.


Outline of Business Process Management (BPM) education/training material

Here's a rough outline of the BPM material that I am putting together. I have quite a few items available in bits and pieces but I need to put them together in a coherent material which can be used for training different sets of audiences.

Any feedback will be highly appreciated!

1. What is BPM? Why is it important?
2. Business Introduction to BPM
  • a. Why is "Business" in the BPM important (duh!)? Or how does BPM help with the business value?
  • b. Relationship of Business Architecture and BPM
3. Technical Introduction to BPM
  • a. Reference Architecture
  • b. Industry standards
  • c. Tools and Products
4. Implementing BPM
  • a. BPM Maturity Model
  • b. Project level
  • c. Department or Organization level
  • d. BPM CoE
5. Upcoming technologies and Trends
  • a. New devices which improve business efficiencies
  • b. Complex Event Processing
6. BPM Governance
7. BPM Projects - Development Methodology (SDLC)
8. Business Activity Monitoring
9. Innowix methodology for BPM implementation

Innowix Services Overview

To provide effective services in the IT domain to our clients, Innowix has created an architecture framework which helps guide execution of various types of IT projects ranging from Business Process re-engineering to simple infrastructure deployment. These IT projects can vary in size and scope and can encompass projects around definition and implementation of IT Strategy, Application Modernization programs, Enterprise Architecture programs, specific business systems development, technology implementation and infrastructure implementation.


Following diagram provides a high-level view of Innowix Architecture Framework.


Figure 1: Innowix Architecture Framework



The Innowix Architecture Framework consists of various areas predominant in Information Technology subject matter. The Innowix Architecture Framework consists of methodologies, guidelines, checklists, best practices and tools where applicable for effective execution of projects in respective areas. It also serves as a great reference for defining and managing overall IT Strategy for an organization. This architecture framework can be applied in managing and rationalizing the IT resources and assets in case of mergers of one or more business entities.


Innowix has successfully applied this framework for helping Transportation Cabinet of Commonwealth of Kentucky in defining their 5-year IT Strategy and Roadmap.


The Innowix Architecture Framework has following main subject areas and four supporting subject areas. Innowix services are organized around these subject areas:


Main Subject Areas of Innowix Architecture Framework and related services are:

  1. IT Strategy
  2. Business Solutions
  3. Technology Platform
  4. Infrastructure
  5. Enterprise Architecture

Supporting Subject Areas of Innowix Architecture Framework and related services are:

  1. Project and Program Management
  2. Information and Data Governance
  3. User Experience
  4. System Development (Processes and Tools)
Following diagram shows details around services by area:

Figure 2: Overview of Innowix Services


More details on Innowix services can be found on Innowix website at

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)

Application Lifecycle Management or ALM is a way to bring process management discipline to the software development area. Of course the main set of artifacts you manage within ALM are software development artifacts including requirements, design, code and test.

There are tons of tools which manage source code but there are not many tools around which do a good job of end-to-end traceability and management of the software artifacts and provide management tools. IBM has good set of tools and Microsoft's TFS is closing the gap. However, requirements management area is where there's tons of opportunities to optimize the processes with mature tools.

I am reviewing Jazz and IBM Team Concert platform to see if it allows third-party requirements management tools or not.

Of course, older I get I am realizing that the usability (or ease of use) is critical for successful usage of any tool. Installation and maintenance is secondary and IBM has to simplify installation and management aspects for their Rational tools.

Here's something new from Microsoft:

Visual Studio Database Guide

Friday, July 23, 2010

Envisioning and Pragmatic execution - Two faces of progress

Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress – Gandhi .

Very inspiring and encouraging words! Just because a road is not there or a path not taken or something is not done in usual way doesn’t mean that the current status quo is the best option. Similarly, constraints are drivers for innovation often to try and find alternate ways of doing something and means of achieving one’s goals. That’s one of Innowix’s core values. We strongly believe that constraints (technological, financial, political or business) drive to innovative thinking and approaches and we see these as opportunities rather than constraints.

Of course, this philosophy also has to be accompanied by some pragmatism. Envisioning without constraints is great but execution has to be grounded in reality and pragmatism. I am sure all of you can relate to this easily.

That’s the dilemma I am under. There are tons of product/framework ideas that are I am thinking about. However, there are many constraints – mainly financial (read CASH FLOW!) which keep me firmly grounded in reality. Some of these ideas are simply incremental in nature meaning take something somebody has done and add to it to bring additional value. Some of the ideas are quite radical and when I talk to friends about those, I get very cold or unwelcoming reception. But then I remind myself of this quote and keep telling myself that I have to find ways to convert my vision into reality and I am working on those things!
So, dear friends, please keep those negative criticisms and comments coming. I need to hear that to better my vision and build a better case grounded in reality.