Model-Driven and Adaptive

Christian Buckley

Christian Buckley

Christian Buckley

Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, CEO of CollabTalk LLC. Christian has been working in the knowledge management and collaboration industry for almost 30 years and is a well-known SharePoint and Microsoft author and speaker.

Christian Buckley

Christian Buckley

Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, CEO of CollabTalk LLC. Christian has been working in the knowledge management and collaboration industry for almost 30 years and is a well-known SharePoint and Microsoft author and speaker.


This guest post is the fourth in a series exploring the capabilities of WEBCON BPS by Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP Christian Buckley, CEO of CollabTalk LLC.

During the first half of my career, I was a business analyst and then became a project manager for a major telecom company where I was tasked with building templates and documentation around our most common business activities. The role evolved into building out a formal project management office (PMOs), which carried into future companies and time spent as a consultant, helping organizations operationalize their IT support systems.

One common theme that I noticed as I worked with a new organization or team was that each company thought that their approach to business problems was totally unique. The reality, however, is that most project-based organizations follow many of the same basic patterns and practices, and leverage the same tools and services to accomplish them.

There is much that can be learned from these patterns, and from the mistakes made by other organizations. One of the things I used to tell my customers is that I didn’t care what methodology they used — as long as they followed some kind of methodology. My guidance was to avoid reinventing the wheel, and leverage their own internal history as well as the expertise and learnings from the community. Having some kind of project management structure or methodology in place gave them a baseline and allowed them to measure their activities, and the impacts of each change or new innovation that was added to the mix.

If you’ve been following this guest series, you’ve probably noticed that the underlying theme has been change management. Every company is different, of course, and your business outcomes may be unique. But one thing that we all have in common is that change is constant. If anything, the rate of change in the modern workplace is only increasing, and organizations that can master change will have a distinct advantage over those who struggle with change.

As I’ve talked about previously, I am impressed with the WEBCON BPS InstantChange™ technology, which allows you to modify a workflow model, data schema, form layouts, connections, data sources – pretty much anything – and have the change take effect immediately upon deployment.

But WEBCON forms are also model-driven – both the process model and the data.

 

The model-driven app design methodology is a component-based approach that does not require code to build your apps. While most developers prefer the canvas app development method, giving them complete control over layout, the idea behind model-driven app design is that much of the layout is already defined and designated by the components you include.

 

WEBCON supports the guiding principles that I mention above, allowing an organization to develop templates and standards for common business scenarios – with teams able to modify and personalize their solutions to meet the unique business needs and variances of their business units or teams.

Model-driven app building includes:

  • Modeling business data
  • Defining business processes
  • Composing the app

According to WEBCON VP Mike Fitzmaurice, this method is perfect for data management use cases — but it causes problems for the design of business processes. Specifically,

  • You have to decide what the data looks like even before you know why you want it.
  • The data tends to become monolithic; changes to data are disruptive, and usually mean going back and making changes to the forms, and likely to the workflow as well.
  • It conditions you to think about your workflow as something reactive to external events, rather than a planning statement about how you want to conduct business.

You see some of this model-driven capability with Power Apps, where the data model spawns and maintains a tightly-coupled user interface. However, modifying the form to look different depending on which step in a process you’re currently in requires a lot of extra logic.

You may opt to go back to a canvas-based app so you can just create one screen for each workflow step and add some formula logic to determine which screen to display. And that’s great — until you start making changes. This methodology is backwards. Your business processes should determine the data and UX to be used, not the other way around.

WEBCON BPS has the data model describe the form, but it’s the workflow model that tells the form how to adapt itself as it runs. Check a checkbox to hide/show a field during a given step in a process. Instant, adaptive form. Make a change to the model and the form adapts. In real time.

Read more about how WEBCON promotes model-driven and adaptive BPS in the eBook Top 10 Reasons Why a Power Automate Builder Should Look at WEBCON BPS“:

 

Power Automate (MS Flow) vs WEBCON BPS - download button

 

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