My Presentation and Interview from Cloud Camp

June 16, 2009

My blogging has been a bit anemic lately.  We had our big Blueprint launch in the middle of last month accompanied by the post launch clean up of all the stuff I had designated as “get to it after the launch.”  And then there was strep throat and visiting relatives…blah…blah..blah.

So here I am back in the saddle and finally getting around to posting my slides from Cloud Camp Austin where Lombardi Blueprint was a gold sponsor.  You’ll notice in the transfer to slideshare, some of the formatting is off and in slide 6 you don’t get to see the great build where the poor person collecting the process data gets buried under a mound of random documents – but you’ll get the idea.

To get some of the narrative behind this and more, check out the interview Redmonk’s Michale Cote did with me at the event.

But wait, there’s more…

For those brave enough to go beyond the last slide you’ll get a special bonus slide of all the cheesy 80’s bands used as code names for Blueprint’s releases right up to the the most recent, “Survivor.”

Pau for now…

Got 3 minutes? See what Blueprint’s all about

June 1, 2009

A little over two weeks ago the latest Blueprint update, the Spring ’09 release, was loosed upon the world.   We took the opportunity of the launch, which included launches for our other products and services, to overhaul our web pages.  In the specific case of Blueprint we created new pages for Overview, Features, Resources and Success Stories.

You gotta see it to believe it

For the top of the Overview and Features pages we created the following video that presents a 3 minute and 18 second overview of Blueprint. (I recommend you click the full screen button so you can see the details).  Check it out and let me know what you think🙂

Pau for now…

Call Center outsourcer uses Process Mapping to help it emerge from Chapter 11

May 5, 2009


PRC, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, manages 14 domestic call centers and a handful of centers offshore.  In January of last year this 25-year-old company declared bankruptcy.  Six months later, after a massive restructuring they emerged from Chapter 11.

One of the efforts that helped in this restructuring and which continues today is an effort to document, standardize and communicate all of the company’s processes.

Rachel Pace-Maron, Director of Operations Support Service was asked to lead this effort with a shoe-string budget.  Last week I chatted with Rachel to learn more about her effort.

My conversation with Rachel (11:19)  Listen

Some of the topics Rachel tackles:

  • The goal with mapping PRC’s processes was to find out how they could do things better and faster and why things take so long.  They weren’t able to answer why a process took so long because no one person knew every step.  This is what lead them to process mapping.
  • One of the first processes they mapped was “agent time,” how much time do agents spend on break and what is the management process for keeping them on the phone efficiently and within break parameters.
  • They found each call center had a different process and none were doing it efficiently.
  • By standardizing on a process for all centers and bringing them into metric, they had a bottom line impact on revenue.
  • Before adopting Lombardi Blueprint for process mapping, groups had been using, Visio, Exel and Power Point.
  • PRC has a group of people who are visually oriented and a group who are narrative oriented. As Rachel explains, “Blueprint’s ability to marry picture to narrative has been fantastic and, I’m not going to say life altering, but certainly business altering.”
  • Her excitement over the latest Blueprint release and how the addition of participants will help PRC break down silos and take their process initiative to the next level.

Pau for now…

Pics and Prose from Cloud Camp Austin ’09

April 27, 2009

Michael Cote of Redmonk welcomes us all. (credit Dave Nielsen)

Michael Cote of Redmonk welcomes us all. (credit Dave Nielsen)

This past Saturday, Cloud Camp Austin was held down on the UT campus.  There was a very healthy turnout and a lot of great discussions were generated.

Sequence of Events

After opening salutations, camp got underway with a series of six five-minute lightening talks delivered by the camp’s gold sponsors.

My lightening talk: Mapping Processes in the Cloud (credit: Dave Nielsen)

My lightening talk: Mapping Processes in the Cloud (credit: Dave Nielsen)

The Main Event

From there, Dave Nielsen, the man who originally developed the cloud camp format (and who took most of the pictures in this post — see them all), guided us through the process of coming up with topics for session discussions.  That process, appropriately enough given that this was an unconference, began with an “unpanel.”

The Unpannel: Splunk representative, not sure, Cote, Dustin from Canonical, myself (credit Dave Nielsen)

The Unpannel: Michael Wilde of Splunk, (not sure), Dustin from Canonical, Cote, myself (credit Dave Nielsen)

All Together Now

The way it worked was the room first brainstormed a list of topics they were interested in discussing/learning more about.  Anyone who thought they were an expert on one or more of these topics got to get up from their seats and form a five person panel at the front of the room.   Each member of the panel then answered two questions from the board and as the question was answered the audience was asked if the topic had been covered by the answer or if it warranted further discussion in an afternoon session

(L->R) Dave Nielsen leads us through our unconference set up.  Canonical's Dustin Kirkland and hero-for-hire John West lend a hand.

(L->R) Dave Nielsen leads us through our unconference set up. Canonical's Dustin Kirkland and hero-for-hire John West lend a hand.

A Schedule is Born

After the panel, as a group we all decided what the final sessions would be and who would lead them.  To lead a session you could either be knowledgeable in the area or completely clueless but wanted to learn about it.

The completed schedule:  three sessions ran at a time and there were three time slots (credit Dave Nielsen)

The completed schedule: three sessions ran at a time and there were three time slots (credit Dave Nielsen)

Coming Soon

While at camp I did a couple of video interviews, one with Dustin Kirkland of Canonical and one with Todd Morey of Mosso/Rackspace.  I should be posting those in the next few days.  I also found myself on the other end of the microphone being interviewed by Mr. Cote.  That should be appearing in the near distant future on his blog.


Pau for now…

Symantec, process improvement and Blueprint

April 21, 2009

Devin Rickard is a Senior Director of Business Process Improvement at Symantec, the company best known for its Norton line of security products.  The team that Devin belongs to acts as internal process consultants at the company and they’ve adopted Lombardi Blueprint as the common process modeling tool for the group.  What they found however is that Blueprint has a wide appeal beyond their group.

I caught up with Devin to learn about process improvement at Symantec and how his team was using Blueprint.

>>My talk with Devin (11:53): Take a Listen

Devin Rickard of Symantec's Business Process Improvement team

Devin Rickard of Symantec's Business Process Improvement team

Some of the topics Devin tackles:

  • Symantec has grown through rapid organic growth as well as acquisition.  This has led to processes being executed in islands. Devin’s group works with the islands to try and “pull them together into a single continent.”
  • The team practices “stealth six sigma.”  They have adapted the processes and tools from Six Sigma so that they fit the Symantec corporate culture.
  • What started as a nice tool for the practitioners has ended up becoming the core catalyst that brings together individuals and helps them to visualize what they are trying to improve upon for Symantec customers and partners.
  • As business owners or process managers become engaged they are becoming aggressive adopters of Blueprint.  They find it gets them a picture of their business that they’ve never had before and they want to find the areas within their own processes that they can make improvements to.
  • The interest/involvement of the business has noticeably shortened the time to improvements.
  • Some of the projects Devin and team have used Blueprint for: transforming the quote to cash process and the procure to pay process (Blueprint helped to cut the time to pay employee expense reports from 3-5 weeks to 2-3 days) as well as working on ways to make the process of integrating acquisitions smoother.

Pau for now…

Blueprint to Sponsor Cloud Camp Austin

April 16, 2009

Rackspae, Microsoft and Sun find themselves in good company :)

Rackspace, Microsoft and Sun find themselves in good company🙂

As an application that leverages all the agility and reach that the cloud provides, we thought it only appropriate that Lombardi Blueprint help sponsor Cloud Camp Austin 2009.

Along with lesser known companies like Microsoft, Sun and Rackspace, Lombardi Blueprint is a gold sponsor of the event (actually since I took the screenshot to the left, Aserver, Rightscale and Zeus have also joined the golden ranks).

As a gold sponsor we get to deliver a 5-7 minute lightening talk at the beginning of the event.  The only restrictions are that it be cloud related and it can’t be a product pitch.  I will be talking about the cloud and democratization of information.

What, When, Where…

The event takes place next Saturday, April 25th from 10AM – 4PM down at Austin City Limits on the UT campus. Here’s how the webpage sums up the event:

CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged you to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing. End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to participate.

(Here are a few more thoughts regarding the event from co-organizer and Red Monk analyst Michael Cote.)

Free for All

The cost of the event is FREE and all you need to do is register online so they know how many folks are coming (heck, I bet if you showed up that day they probably wouldn’t turn you away.)  So come on down next Saturday and enjoy and learn.  And remember, since its an unconference that means anyone can propose and lead a session and we all learn from each other.

Hope to see you there!

Pau for now…

Top 10 Tech Skills: Process Modeling tops the list

March 31, 2009

I came across an article in yesterday’s that listed today’s “Top 10 Technology skills.”  The list was based on work done by Foote Partners, which conducts quarterly assessments of IT pay trends in the US.

Foote Partners’ CEO David Foote says “what’s unique about this downturn is that IT departments are hiring talent in certain areas – such as business process modeling and project management – while laying off in others connected to weak product lines.”

And, indeed, coming in at the top of the list was Business Process Modeling:

1. Business Process Modeling

Business process management, methodology and modeling is one of the few IT niches that saw pay gains in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the quarterly IT salary survey compiled by Foote Partners. In particular, companies were willing to pay for workers with ITIL IT best practices and CobiT IT governance experience. Pay for these skills was up 10.3% from a year ago and 5.6% from the previous quarter, the Foote report says.

Kevin Faughnan, director of IBM’s Academic Initiative, says business process modeling is one of the key skills that business majors should be studying. “It’s about how does our business work, what are the business processes and how do we analyze them,” Faughnan says, adding that this is a key issue for companies to consider before applying IT to solve business problems.

This seems to make sense to me. It is always important to know your business processes  in order to be able to modify and refine them to keep pace with change… and today there is an extra helping of change that we all must not only keep pace with but get ahead of.  Business Process Modeling is a key first step.

And the rest…

For the curious, the other 9 skills were:

  • 2. Database
  • 3. Messaging/Communications
  • 4. IT Architecture
  • 5. IT Security
  • 6. Project Management
  • 7. Data Mining
  • 8. Web Development
  • 9. IT Optimization
  • 10. Networking

Pau for now…


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