Archive for October, 2010

The Obama Administration is taking a hard line on financial accountability – for both agencies and the contractors who serve them. Business processes are at the heart of this increased scrutiny – the better the processes (in terms of visibility and efficiency) the smoother the reporting back to Congress and other governmental authorities.

In late August, federal CIO Vivek Kundra spoke publicly about 26 IT projects recently dubbed “high risk” by the Office of Management and Budget. (On June 28, OMB halted spending on financial systems modernization projects.) Kundra said the projects, spanning 15 federal agencies and exceeding $30 billion in lifecycle costs, require thorough review and better management planning.

“This isn’t about killing projects, it’s about making them run better and faster,” Kundra said.

The lack of credible budgetary reporting back to the sources of federal appropriations is an ongoing issue among some agency decision-makers. This difficulty extends even to spending on the Stimulus initiative. While many government agencies have been able to allocate their stimulus dollars to worthwhile projects, ten agencies – including the USDA, Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security – have spent less than half of the money to which they were entitled.

The slow decisions as to how to spend stimulus money relate to making certain of tangible, measureable results. And this federal emphasis on improved accountability doesn’t stop at the agency level. Lawmakers are seeking to impose tougher standards on the contractors that fulfill the projects to which appropriated dollars are allocated.

Business Process Management software is ideally suited to address the ongoing problem of accountability. Through BPM, an organization can gain better visibility into its project related decisions – along with an added dimension of improved control, documentation trails, and audits. Agencies and the contractors that serve them can gain better control of processes, improve decision-making and create confidence that projects are being executed responsibly and well.

Those are things we all want – and things we all deserve as tax-paying citizens.

flag dollars Tackling the Federal Push for Financial Accountability

Ever since his appointment as Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra has championed the idea that technology can truly transform government. And not just transform it – he wants to make it more open through what have come to be known as Kundra’s “Five Pillars” for IT priorities — innovation, cyber security, transparency, engaging citizens, and lowering the cost of government.

The push for greater openness has even prompted the General Services Administration (GSA) to offer incentives to respond to the challenges of better engaging citizens through an agency-wide platform for innovative solutions.

At its heart, open government is about making agencies more accountable to citizens across the board. It’s about giving citizens more opportunities to connect with government in ways that leave them better equipped to understand and navigate the complex federal bureaucracy. It’s about improved efficiency, transparency, and collaboration.

In short, it’s about better business processes.

Business Process Management software can offer a firm foundation for open government. Increasingly, BPM is being used not just for the “easy stuff” in agency operations, but in targeted core mission responsibilities within an agency or a department. The BPM management methodology directly supports what the Obama Administration is telling agencies about how to relate to both internal and external customers.

Organizations such as the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) are embracing BPM as central to their operations. DAU uses BPM to enforce processes and increase efficiency, reliability, and visibility – ensuring that business rules and approvals are met every time. That reduces processing time, eliminates needless repetition and identifies process bottlenecks.

As mentioned in a previous blog, the Food and Drug Administration has picked Appian as its BPM vendor of choice, and has extended its use of the Appian BPM Suite under a new five-year Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA). Having successfully tested out proof of concept, FDA is using BPM technology licenses and support services across the entire organization, targeting core processes agency-wide.

BPM has always had deep value – beyond just trimming the edges of cost reduction and efficiency. As agencies continue looking at more ways to implement the five pillars of open government, they’ll find that BPM is a solid foundation on which to build a real connection with their constituency.

whitehouse2 300x231 BPM: A Firm Foundation for the Five Pillars of Open Government

Here’s another sign that the BPM train continues to gain steam: next week’s Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2010 in Orlando will feature an entire track of content dedicated to BPM and business process improvement. Gartner has an established focus on process issues and BPM Suite technology, of course, but this is the first time the topic has risen to Symposium-level mainstream awareness.

Appian is a sponsor of the event, which runs October 18-21. We will be on-site giving demonstrations of our Appian 6 platform in Booth #320 throughout the conference. Please stop by to see one, or to schedule a private one-one demo.

gartner symp 2010 Gartner to Feature BPM at ITxpo Orlando

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“The longest journey begins with a single step.” That old saying is as fitting for introducing new software applications as it for any other job. Taking a BPM journey is transformative for government, but getting started with that first step can seem daunting.

When it comes to carefully wading into the BPM waters, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a prime example of how to do it right. The FDA was interested in BPM in support of a strategic vision to transform its operations in response to emerging scientific, technological, and economic trends affecting its regulatory mission. This vision reflects the principles of productivity and accountability initiated back in 2002 in the E-Government Act, and carried forward by the current administration’s efforts to make sure our government is “running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible.”

The FDA eased into BPM by initiating a pilot program so it could assess the technology. For the pilot, the agency selected the Appian BPM Suite. Working on the pilot increased the agency’s internal BPM competency. Based on that, the FDA expanded to four separate BPM deployments that were self-contained and specific in scope. These projects further increased the FDA’s BPM comfort level with BPM technology and methodology. As various Centers within the FDA began to see the power of BPM – and how it could improve their core business functions – the FDA decided to make BPM available agency-wide.

Recently, the FDA formalized that decision via a new five-year Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) making Appian BPM available across all FDA Centers. With all options, the contract value exceeds $12M. (For more information on the agreement, see the FDA press release from Appian here.)

The FDA’s measured approach to BPM implementation is ideal for agencies with interest in the software, but an insufficient level of understanding and experience. When you break down the process of BPM adoption, you’ll find that each step gives you more confidence to take the next. Sooner than you think, you’ll be well on your way to improving how your agency executes its mission.

BPM is a journey of rich reward. Why not take the first step?

fda logo FDA Shows How to Get Started with BPM

Appian has set the date, booked the facility and opened the registration for the 3rd and largest Appian global user conference, Appian World 2011!

As with previous Appian user conferences, the event is completely free to Appian customers, partners, and those simply interested in learning more about Appian and Business Process Management. Whether you are a business or IT professional, a process improvement expert or a BPM newbie, with a commercial organization or working in the public sector, this is a must-attend event.

Appian World 2011 This is going to be BIG.  Appian World!   April 13th   15th, 2011

At Appian World 2011, BPM industry luminaries and leading practitioners will share the insights you need to drive business value through process improvement. More »

The Forrester Research Business Process and Application Delivery Forum 2010 is just two days away. Come to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center near Washington, D.C. October 7 and 8 to hear Forrester analysts and a broad spectrum of end users talk about “Delivering Breakthrough Business Value” with BPM.

The vital first step, of course, is getting your BPM initiative off the ground by building a solid business case. Our customer CME Group is hosting an exclusive lunch presentation on just this topic at the conference. A BPM business case involves much more than just doing an ROI calculation. To set a BPM program up for success, you must secure executive sponsorship, get both IT and the business side on board, assemble the right cross-functional team, think about issues of change management and their impact, and more.

Picture11 Learn to Build Your BPM Business Case at the Forrester Forum More »