Signavio carves out an interesting niche – empowering the masses to accelerate transformation efforts through a combination of process modelling (BPMN) and decision modelling (DMN), along with a set of lightweight dictionary, workflow and publishing components. It’s a compelling cloud-based combination for major corporations. Putting process and decision modelling on steroids, the vendor has amassed some pretty big name clients, with an impressive number of licensed decision modelling users. We take a close look at their decision modelling capabilities and how it fits within their suite of tools.
The Signavio Business Transformation Suite is a cloud-based collection of repository-oriented modelling tools to capture, design and publish both processes and decisions, along with the associated goals, strategies and business capabilities, in support of enterprise change initiatives. It also provides internal facilities to simulate, animate and execute those processes and decision models, or export them for execution in other environments. We reviewed Signavio Process Manager 11.0.0 “Enterprise Plus” edition. There are four core components to the product set:
- Process Manager: provides tooling for modelling business processes (BPMN 2.0), decisions (DMN 1.1), as well as tools for capability modelling (via Archimate), simulation and variance management.
- Collaboration Hub: a publishing environment for models built using Process Manager providing both model navigation as well as facilitates for users to comment and make suggestions.
- Workflow Accelerator: a process execution environment that enables flexible governance of the models and the overall environment, as well as automation of simple people-centric processes.
- Process Intelligence: a process mining and analysis component, enabling firms to reverse-engineer processes from system logs, and carry out variance analysis between design and implementation.
Signavio embeds Decision Management capabilities into these components rather than selling a separate modelling tool. The decision modelling element is now only available with the Enterprise Plus edition. This is a relatively new development as the firm had previously sold a standalone modelling tool for decision management. Similarly, all these tools leverage the Dictionary functionality in different ways.
The role of Decision Management
The Signavio Suite integrates decision management into the relevant areas of the core components. The Process Manager component provides the environment to model and design decisions, while also integrating decision-making with process modelling. The Workflow Accelerator uses decision models when working out sophisticated routing for work items. Finally, the Collaboration Hub provides mechanisms for publishing decision models to the enterprise and crowdsourcing ideas for their improvement. The product supports the export of decision models using the DMN XML standard. Signavio supports conformance to level 2 of the standard, and some aspects of conformance at level 3.
The Signavio Suite facilitates business analysts and subject matter experts in developing a reusable set of business processes, decision models and organisational change artefacts. From its inception, Signavio has focused on enabling or empowering “the masses”, without the need for process or decision experts. The product also sets out to enable the broader business community to contribute to and collaborate around improvement initiatives. Through this wider business engagement and by enabling co-operation on change efforts, Signavio seeks to drive insights amongst its users and increase the velocity of business transformation programmes.
From a Decision Management point of view, the product set provides a unique feature that we have not seen elsewhere. Rather than assuming that all decision models lead to execution, Signavio provide a “Decision Assistant” to explore how even partial matches of the input data can lead to differences in the decision outputs. You could think of this as a simple default user interface for the decision itself, enabling a user to execute the model for the data at hand.
Given that the overall product set competes with Visio and PowerPoint at one end of the scale, and enterprise architecture repository-oriented tools at the other, Signavio has staked out an interesting modelling niche. For example, the inclusion of the Workflow Accelerator gives it governance capabilities not available from any of its competitors. Similarly, integration of process mining and variance analysis functionality adds a new dimension to the usage scenarios possible with these sorts of tools.
At present, the Decision Assistant feature is limited to a) testing for decision models under development within the Process Manager component, and b) in the Collaboration Hub where business users can validate and comment on the developed models. However, we feel this underplays its potential of the functionality. Given that the real world is full of all sorts of “what if” scenarios, there’s also a possibility of using Decision Assistant as a lightweight mechanism for execution of standalone decision models. For example, a young driver seeking car insurance might want to experiment with options on choice of car and excess premium. Similarly, a financial advisor might want to explore return investment options based on client circumstances, propensity for risk and history.
Of course, there are always improvement opportunities around the user interface and help systems. For example, the Dictionary tooling is a little simplistic and hard to understand with regard to complex data structures. Yes, one can apparently integrate it with external data sources such as the organisation’s existing EA repository tool, but this requires work at the API level rather than configuration in the tooling. Finally, we see great opportunities for the Workflow Accelerator to support a set of “wizards” that automate aspects of model development, deployment and governance.
Signavio focuses on helping organisations transform their businesses, by combining the ability to leverage the wisdom of the crowd while generating actionable insight from existing systems. It provides an integrated environment for capturing business decision logic and linking that easily to process models, capability models and the strategy models that inform them. Rounding out the suite are the publishing environment and workflow componentry.