Last week, I was contacted by Tom Baeyens for a briefing on a new business initiative in the cloud BPM arena. My initial take was to say “no” as doing briefings is something I’d consider more appropriate for commercial BPM communities and paid-for magazines, but not for ourselves. On the other hand, knowledge sharing and bringing news and latest insights on what is happening in the BPM domain is our charter, and bringing news on new initiatives would fit in this charter I believe.
Talking about briefings
Almost every week, we as BPM Leader editors get contacted by vendors, event organizers, process consultants and (other) BPM communities who show a clear interest in what we’ve been up to, “to do something together”. Most of the times, we don’t, in order to reserve our unique position in the market as largest independent BPM community in the world. The unique concept of fresh new insights delivered by our many bloggers without crossing the border of being (too) commercial in how we deliver these, is clearly filling a niche in the market. Yet, as chief editor I felt compelled to enter into a new experiment where we bring hot-off-the-press news directly in an objective, non-commercial and professional way. Also because some of the community members have asked us to provide this and other services such as industry news flashes, a global events agenda, and even an offline “get together” for all BPM Leaders out there.
As always, we’re open to experiment, and I’d love to gather your feedback on these topics. In the end, it is the people (i.e. you) who make the community, and as editors we’re simply trying to serve a platform for sharing thoughts and best practices for all BPM Leaders out there.
Talking about Effektif
That being said, there was one other reason to accept this briefing request: I was rather curious to learn what Tom (long-time BPM veteran and driving force behind open source initiatives jBPM, now part of JBoss and acquired by Red Hat; and Activiti, now part of Alfresco Software) was up to. J
We got on the phone, together with Torben Schreiter and Gero Decker (both are co-founders and co-CEOs of Signavio, a spin-off of the Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Potsdam, Germany) to listen what this new initiative called Effektif was all about:
In short, Effektif delivers a native cloud BPM solution, to some extent comparable to solutions provided by Appian, Cordys and other vendors. The uniqueness, according to Tom, is in the fact that it is very intuitive to use Effektif. This should make adoption of BPM much easier, especially for smaller businesses but also for local / departmental initiatives within a larger enterprise.
Combining forces with Signavio, that is delivering tools for collaborative process design based on BPMN 2.0, Effektif targets to let business people model their first business model in less than 5 minutes. Using a wizard, the “user-slash-modeler” is guided to create his own process. To avoid the usual BPM implementation issues of hooking up other systems first, Effektif promotes a staged approach:
- Stage 1: Human workflow processes, with no integration needed. Email is used as notification mechanism, making it fairly easy to connect colleagues/employees in the processes;
- Stage 2: Cloud integration processes, involving cloud-based solutions like SalesForce and Google Apps in the process through configuration only (so no coding required);
- Stage 3: Custom processes, which gives full flexibility to its users, but obviously would require the burdens of custom coding and local integration projects too.
Especially the first step could significantly lower the implementation thresholds, with email as primary means for scheduling and routing tasks for human-to-human collaboration. According to Tom, a team manager can start immediately on a small scale, e.g. just involving members of his own team, without having to go through organizational politics and IT integration projects first. The intuitive wizard should guide the business manager to modeling his business process. Any process can be triggered in three ways: using a form, a timer or an incoming email.
Effektif also offers dynamic case management capabilities, which means that not all exceptions have to be modeled first. In case an exception occurs, the user can continue by adding a new task on-the-fly, e.g. involving another subject matter expert or sending an email alert to his manager.
Talking about money
Pricing of Effektif is based on (number of) activity instances being called upon. This means you pay-as-you-go, and only pay for process steps executed. Logically, more complex processes with many different steps and actors will cost more than a simple 3-step process, but the derived business value of these processes is expected to be higher too. The advantage of this pricing model is that it is intuitive, and lowers the threshold to start using it.
The initial investment in Effektif is 1.2 million Euros and is made by Signavio. This should help to propel Effektif quickly into the market. Given its European background (and with its new head office to be based in Berlin, Germany), it is logical to expect that the first clients will be European too. But as with all cloud initiatives, there are no real hurdles to move to other geographies quickly if desired.