Visio

  • “Less is more” or: What do you really need for professional business process mapping?

    “Less is more” carries the notion that simplicity and clarity lead to good design. This tiny phrase is attributed to the German-American architect and designer Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969). He was one of the founders of modern architecture, the last director of the famous “Bauhaus” and a proponent of the simplicity of style. This construction design rule is can be applied to software and model design as well.

  • The ARIS 9 tool’s evolution is driven by today’s IT mega-trends like cloud based modeling and multi tenancy, big data, social BPM or model to execution. Some people also call mega-trends hype.

  • IBM® offers a BPM modeling platform for the cloud: IBM® Blueworks™ Live, formerly named Lombardi Blueprint®. This new platform empowers process owners and business analysts to document business processes, collaborate, share information and drive business process analysis (BPA) for process improvements in their organization. The IBM® Blueworks Live™ tool supports BPMN™ 2.0 for modeling and can also import Microsoft® Office Visio® diagrams. However, BlueWorks Live™ is not designed to export process models back to Visio®.

  • In business transformation projects like enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations, a major part of the labor for consultancies is gathering information from clients, and analyzing business processes (BP) to streamline and cleverly improve BPs by IT support. In an ERP project one of the main deliverables created is a business blueprint document describing the BPs and their implementation in ERP solutions like SAP®, Oracle® or Microsoft®.

  • ProVision is a EA and BPA modeling tool from the US with a long history: developed by Proforma Inc. it was 2007 acquired by Metastorm Inc. and 2010 acquired by OpenText®. As there are many new standards and tools in the market like BPMN, Microsoft Visio® or Software AG ARIS®. In this post we show the comparison between Opentext ProVision notebooks and Microsoft Visio as deliverables of the conversion.

  • Many surveys regarding tools used for process management and modeling show that Microsoft® Visio® is most frequently employed for this task; along with (amazingly) Excel® and PowerPoint® for business process documentation. The quality of such deliverables and their value for the company/organization differs by the functionality and modeling capabilities of the respective tool (and do not forget about the people’s experience and skills). The interesting question is: How to close the gap between the easy-to-use Office tools (so much loved by business folks and consultants) and those complex and costly tools preferred by architects?

  • People mostly believe that Microsoft® Visio® is just a simple drawing tool which is limited in scope when it comes to business process modeling and the complexities of business architecture. BPM-X® has enhanced Visio® by a smart repository approach so that the construction of a real business architecture is a breeze. As a result you can easily achieve a business and functional decomposition and structure your process diagrams into according to different levels of detail. In this way you may start from the overall enterprise perspective and end up on the implementation level with supporting IT systems and applications. And there are modeling languages like ArchiMate® and BPMN™ which help to visually express your enterprise and architecture using different viewpoints (diagrams).

  • Escape from vendor lock-in – translate your model assets the way you decide

    Winning a client on the technical marketplace is sometimes a demanding piece of work. Marketing and sales efforts, pre-sales engagements for POCs and pilots are making a client pretty “costly”. And who likes to lose something costly acquired and embosomed by all the efforts spent to win a deal?

  • Extended Microsoft Visio® with an rules engine and connect it to a database

    Visio® is known for its easy and intuitive use with an appealing user interface. Regarding license costs the tool competes very attractively compared to professional modelling tools in the market. Why not use this widespread tool for professional process mapping or modeling of enterprise and business architecture? It is the BPM-X rules engine and database that enriches native Visio® to become a serious alternative to so long market leaders in the field of EA and BPM.

  • Microsoft Visio® is a very commonly used tool for the mapping of business processes. Many BPM modeling tools claim to have Visio import abilities, but the real functionality they offer is no more than a “tick the box” for answering a RFQ (request for a quotation). This seems to be designed more as a way to gain a foothold for submitting and winning  sales proposals rather than offering the really needed functionality of importing quality Visio diagrams.

  • Import and export Microsoft Visio 2016 native diagram .VSDX and stencil .VSSX data format

    With the introduction of Visio 2013 Microsoft has dropped the binary data format .VSS and the XML format .VDX for diagram file storage. VSDX was introduced as the new XML data format for storage of diagrams and consists of a ZIP archive with a bundle of XML files. The TransWare developer team added support (see Blog post about Visio 2013) to write and read native .VSDX files for the new data format. In 2015 Microsoft introduced the new Visio 2016.

  • Integrating BPM tools like Microsoft Visio® with Zephyr® on JIRA® Cloud

    Zephyr® is a leading test management software available as Zephyr® Enterprise Edition and as add-on for JIRA® on-premise or JIRA® cloud solutions. With Zephyr® on JIRA Cloud companies can create, plan, and execute tests right inside of their JIRA® cloud instance. The BPM-X® team has developed an integration link for a project between BPM modeling tools such as ARIS®, CaseWise, SPARX Enterprise Architect, Microsoft Visio® and many others to generate test-cases and scripts right out of the business process models and diagrams and to instantly load them into Zephyr® on JIRA®.

  • Let IBM Rational® System Architect work closer with Microsoft Visio®

    IBM Rational® System Architect is a one of the leading EA and BPA modeling and analysis tools. It has great functionality; it supporting many standards such as BPMN 2.0 diagram types and famous frameworks like TOGAF 9, ArchiMate v2.0, DoDAF 2.0, MODAF 1.2, NATO Architecture Framework (NAF) 3.0, IAF v4 Integrated Architecture Framework, Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework 2.0 (FEAF 2.0) and last but not least the Zachman Framework. This rich functionality unfortunately, also builds complexity that is obstructive to efficient use by business analysts or project team initiatives like BPR (business process re-engineering) or blueprinting  of ERP solutions. These later teams and much prefer the easy use of Microsoft Visio® to map business processes or to scope existing best practice content for customer requirements.

  • Many CEOs and IT deciders think about Microsoft® SharePoint® as the ultimate BPM system. The question is: What are they expecting from “BPM” and how do they define “BPM”?

  • Model-based testing integrates process management with test management by linking Visio 2013 and JIRA

    For BPA (business process analysis) many tools are on the market: ARIS®, CaseWise®, MEGA, IBM® Rational® System Architect, OpenText® ProVision and others. But you may say ‘this is well, fine and good, but the common siutation in industry and large organizations is that Microsoft® Visio® is used throughout business departments and project teams for business process mapping.’ This post reviews how Visio® process models can be leveraged for business-driven testing and the generation of test cases.

  • The ARIS modeling software is still a very famous tool in the BPM market. But in many organizations the 80-20 rule (also knows as Pareto principle, see Wikipedia) takes effect.

  • Re-documentation of SAP® ERP with Microsoft Visio®

    SAP® offers leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for comprehensive support of enterprise business processes. Organizations require powerful ERP functionality for their implementation of custom business requirements and company compliance. All in all this leads to huge ERP implementations with sometimes confusing complexity resulting in increasing challenges for governance of changes by IT departments.

  • Shared experience from linking IBM BlueWorks Life using the new BPMN data format

    IBM BlueWorks Live (Ex Lombardi Blueprint) is a BPM SaaS solution from IBM using the BPMN modelling standard from OMG. BlueWorks is used by many consulting firms and organizations to map business processes. Nevertheless, we get many requests to link BlueWorks with other tools, e.g. to share models with Enterprise Architecture tools like Sparx Enterprise Architect or simply to publish the BlueWorks diagrams into Microsoft Visio format.

  • Over the years the concepts of enterprise architecture and business process management have evolved, the number and complexity of frameworks are growing, new hypes and acronyms are popping up like crocuses in spring. All approaches are aiming to deliver better support for business, more agile IT and closing the much-cited gap between business and IT (just to mention some of the chief targets). But taking a real world view at enterprises, the majority of organizations are still far away from architecture’s wonderland.

  • Sparx Sparx Enterprise Architect (EA) is a modeling tool used by Enterprise Architects in many organizations. Over the time this tool has evolved from an UML/SysML tool to a full featured Enterprise Architecture tool supporting different frameworks (NIEM, CCTS, Zachmann, TOGAF or UPDM) or modeling languages like BPMN. On the other side Microsoft Visio is "the" diagramming tool for business users or analysts. In the following blog posts we research the interchange of model data and diagrams between both tools.

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  • Support to import and export Visio 2013 VSDX file format

    Microsoft introduced with Visio 2013 a new file format (.vsdx) that replaces the Visio binary file format (.vsd) and Visio XML Drawing file format (.vdx). The Visio 2013 file format is now supported by Visio Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013.  Without the need of an “intermediary” file format, SharePoint 2013 can now render and publish Visio diagrams. And as the file format is very different from prior Visio versions 2007 or 2010, the question is how to export and import Visio 2013 diagrams from ARIS®,  ProVision®, Corporate Modeler®, System Architect® or other BPA tools?

  • With this article we present an solution approach for test automation is to use

    • a test automation tool like Katalon Studio for development of test cases of IT application’s user dialogs (like HTML forms)
    • a tool like Microsoft Visio to document (also called model or map) the business processes that are supported by the IT application
    • The BPM-X® software to derive the end-to-end path from process models for automated execution

    The challenge in demanding enterprise projects isn’t the technical development of test cases for the user dialogs of the IT application themselves. The complex question is the arrangement of those test cases in the right execution sequence of end-to-end paths through a business process and the determination of therefore related test data for positive and negative tests.

    A test case developer can´t oversee the complexity of an enterprise business process as he has a more focused view to the functional behavior of user dialogs and the related test cases of IT application level.

    In the organizational viewpoint of an enterprise project, the different project participants like process owners, business analysts, IT application solution experts and test engineers need to collaborate without any communication and media breaks. But in reality, different languages are spoken by participants, redundant and bulky, outdated prose documentation are used. The consequence is a lack of traceability from business requirements to IT application delivery. This results in overall weak implementation quality and high efforts by expensive late change-requests because of uncovered or incorrect implemented requirements.

    Let us have a look at a simple procure-to-pay example to show how test automation works.

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    Fig.1 procure-to-pay business process

    The procure-to-pay business process flow is depicted with Microsoft Visio as a business process diagram, stored in a file with the extension VSDX. In the scope of business process management

    • a (business process) model is an abstract, simplified documentation of a business process flow
    • a diagram is the visual representation of a model using a specific visual notation

    To document (also called model, depict or map) a business process flow in Visio, a visual notation like flowchart or BPMNTM can be used. For this tutorial we selected the very common Visio flowchart notation with swimlanes. A swimlane is used to describe a processes participant like a Ship Officer or Buying Agent. Business activities placed in a swimlane are execute by this specific participant role. In general, a participant role can be a human or an IT application.

    Each blue box in the business process diagram is a businessactivity like “Prepare Requisition” or “Prepare Request for Quotation” usually supported by an IT application’s user dialog. For a web application this might be an HTML form or a Java user dialog. In some cases, the business activity itself has a more complex workflow of business activities and therefore is depicted by a separate diagram. To simplify the documentation (modeling) of a business process flow model, more complex business activities are detailed into a separate business process model called sub-process models and linked to the respective business activity.

    Let us have a look to a more complex business activity “Make Payment” in the following figure.

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    Fig.2 Business Arctivity "Make Payment"

    The “Make payment” activity is linked to a detailed sub-process model that describes the specific process flow of the “Make payment” activity, shown in the following figure.

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    Fig. 3 A business sub-process

    This “Procure-to-pay” business process has all in all 20 business activities (blue rectangles) and 5 business rules (purple diamonds). The green boxes are showing input and output data objects like a “Goods Order” or an “Invoice”. There are many possible end-to-end path through the business process model, executing the business activities in a correct specific order. This order or execution sequence that is decided by the logic of business rules. E.g. for an “Order request is greater as 10000”, a “sign-off of the order” is required.

    Now let´s have a look at the longest path having all business activities included of this simple example business process:

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    Fig.4 end-to-end path through the business process

    Each blue box business activity is usually supported by user dialog of an IT application. The user dialogs are tested by one or more test cases and specific test data created by a test automation tool like Katalon Studio. The test engineer must assemble the test cases in a right order with the right test data to have a correct sequence of to be executed test cases for the procure-to-pay end-to-end process.

    A real life business processes can have several dozens of business activities, many rules and many sub-processes. This ends-up in hundreds of relevant end-to-end paths to be tested for

    • system-integration testing (SIT),
    • user acceptance testing (UAT),
    • business and non-functional requirements-coverage testing
    • and finally the ongoing regression testing.

    This is the moment the BPM-X® solution comes into the picture of a business process driven end-to-end testing. Based on business process models, developed by tools such as Microsoft Visio, the BPM-X® software generates the end-to-end paths based on different test coverage algorithms. The technology behind is called model-based testing (MBT).

    The BPM-X® generated deliverables are used to orchestrate the predefined user dialog test cases for the correct sequence of test execution in the test automation tool.

    For Katalon Studio,

    • each BPM-X® generated end-to-end path becomes a so-called test suite. The test suite is a correct sequence of test cases that have been pre-recorded by Katalon Studio.
    • The BPM-X® generated set of test suites are a so-called test suite collection. The test suite collection corresponds to the business process itself.

    In short abstract, the solution approach is formalized in 3 steps, using

    1. a modeling tool to describe the business process
    2. a test automation tool to develop (record and modify) the test cases for user dialogs and to execute test cases
    3. the BPM-X® software to generate the end-to-end path from the business process documented with the modeling tool and execute automated end-to-end testing with the test automation tool

    The following figure shows the solution approach in an overview:

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    Fig. 5 Business Architecture and Application Testing

    The business process architecture is described by a functional and process decomposition of models (the left turquoise triangle in the figure). Assuming that 2 IT applications (yellow rectangles) called App X with forms A and B and another application called App Y with the Form C are supporting and implementing a business process on level 4 (right turquoise rectangles named “L5”). The BPM-X® software generates from the business process model the end-to-end path as a correct order of L5 business activities. Each L5 business activity is supported by an IT application that’s form(s) are (is) tested by a specific test case, developed with Katalon Studio.

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    Fig. 6 Tools and deliverables to link the business processes with the application for automation of testing

    There is a BPM-X® tutorial available that includes prepared artifacts for easy execution of the tutorial exercises:

    • Microsoft® Visio® documented business process model including a sub-process model
    • HTML mockup application for the execution of test cases using MiniWeb server and HTML forms
    • Katalon Studio project data with pre-recorded test cases of the HTML forms
    • BPM-X® to read the Visio® diagram and generate Katalon Studio test suites and test suites collection.

    At the bottom line, the methodology and concepts model-based testing of business processes is linked with the methodology of behavior-driven development (BDD) and testing.

  • The new Visio 2016 has arrived!

    With its Visio 2016 release Microsoft flips open a new chapter in the story of the most powerful diagramming solution in the market. TransWare has dedicated to the translation of model data and diagram formats of any of the variety of modeling tools like ARIS to Visio. As a free surplus Visio 2016 can be used as a modeling front-end tool to link to the TransWare BPM-X® enterprise repository server.The TransWare software tools are based on the latest multi-tenancy web service technology seamlessly connecting users and their data.

  • Surveys from leading analysts tell that Microsoft Visio® is the tool that is used for more than 70% of business process management (BPM) scenarios. In complex IT applications like SAP® ERP or Oracle® ERP projects, consultancies and system-integrators create business blueprint documentation with Microsoft Visio®. With the integration of Visio® into the leading test-management suite HP ALM, our R&D team has closed the so far open gap between requirements and process management on one side and the test management of complex IT applications on the other side.

  • *TM Forum Frameworx for EA 17.5 now available at the shop!*

    This webinar is about the availability the TM Forum Frameworx version 17 for modeling tools from Microsoft (Visio), Sparx Systems (Enterprise Architect) and Software AG (ARIS). The content of Frameworx can be loaded into those tools as diagrams and model, navigated to explore the details for Frameworx and be used as a best-practise to model the architecture of an organisation.

  • In 2013 our teams focused very much on customer projects integrating various tools such as ARIS, Visio, CaseWise, Sparx Enterprise Architect, IBM Rational System Architect, OpenText ProVision, IBM BlueWorks, SAP, HP ALM and many others to perfect the universal model translation between different modeling languages, EA frameworks and vendor specific implementation of standards such as BPMN. For 2014 we see a huge demand in the EA/BPM enterprise management market for more operationalization, more agility for faster value delivery to the business and to reduce IT costs.Organizations looking to leverage model assets and build continuous value chains to integrate different enterprise management disciplines, to improve communication between different departments or project teams and to escape from management silos are well recognized requirements and needs from the professional market.

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