Workflow software: I'm calling the bluff.
I could be completely wrong about this -- but I'm just going to make some bold and disparaging remarks about the whole existence of workflow software and see what happens.
Here we go.
A state machine is about the most basic electronic circuit you can make. You can throw one together with a couple of transistors.
And in software, writing a state machine is so simple that it's hard not to write one.
But simple ideas leave room for big inflation. Sales people know that the best things to sell are inflated big ideas.
So the field of Enterprise-Level Workflow Software was born.
And businesses buy them, happy to take a short-term hit in productivity, since it will lead to long-term benefits. But when you buy an expensive wrapper around a five dollar piece of softeware, the long term effects are confusion, complexity and further cost.
Business are universally worse off because of the advent of 'work flow' products.
I hear the response "Oh but workflow has a lot of value-add over rolling your own solution. You get persistence of long running processes, for one thing."
Persistence? Persistence? Don't we have these thing called databases? Isn't that our usual, and fairly well understood persistence mechanism?
Also there's value-added services such as logging and reporting.
Logging? reporting? I'm still thinking 'database.'
Ah, but here's the super-answer:
Workflow products include graphical tools for letting business analysts design their business processes without involving coders.
Without... without... You're kidding right? You ought to smell what you're shovelling.
Show me a working 'business analyst' -- one, who is not now nor has ever been a coder -- who successfully designs 'business workflows' using an off the shelf tool, and who didn't require *any* expensive training, and who achieves their task in less time and with more precision than a coder. And who doesn't need to call technical support for help at the time.
Show me just one.
I can wait. I give you one month. Nah, screw it. I give you eternity.
Whenever I get too saddened by these things, i think of my big idea for a whole new class of enterprise component:
The 'IF' server.
Here's the general pitch.
(switch to the kind of voice-talent they use when advertising john grisham films)
Business today is complex. You need to make decisions. But every decision will take you down a certain path. Who can you count on to get you there?
Business needs alignment.
Business processes need to work together to guarantee that decisions are made for the greater good. Or evil, if that's the business you're in. We don't discriminate against evil.
Consider a difficult decision. It may be hard to make, but with an IF server, we can serve up either a true or a false, whichever you prefer.
You can have the most complex business scenarios in the world, and if you tell us to return true, we will. Every time.
Your IT department is a complex and challenging part of your business. They control a complex array of applications, of all sizes and across many platforms. Custom software is never dependable. But an IF server, can be relied upon.
Imagine... A single standard for IF processing, accessible from across the entire organisation.
Using proven open standards, like XML -- the Lingua Franca that powers today's fortune 500 businesses -- every application can link to the same powerhouse of decision making excellence: Your IF server.
Now you know: no matter what software your team is writing, they can connect to the IF server and be given one standard result. Monday? Then it's true.
Tuesday? Then it's false.
You run the business. You decide.
No more doubt. No more incompatabilities. No more missed deadlines and lost opportunities.
You can crush the competition. You can destroy them all.
IF only you purchase now.
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