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Commentary

Is Simulation Fake?

At the recent Gartner BPM Summit, I was shocked to see how high a pedestal the Gartner analysts now place simulation analysis. The BPMS and modeling tool vendors now universally throw it into the box. How else to get into that Magic Quadrant? I haven't looked at all of them myself, but my sampling to date tells me this is a fake feature if ever there was one.
[This is a re-post of something I wrote yesterday on the SAP Business Process Expert megablog, in case you don't follow that site.]

At the recent Gartner BPM Summit, I was shocked to see how high a pedestal the Gartner analysts now place simulation analysis in their gallery of must-have BPM capabilities. Ever obedient, the BPMS and modeling tool vendors now universally throw it into the box. How else to get into that Magic Quadrant?

But have these analysts ever really used these tools, or even scrutinized them closely? I'm not really sure. I haven't looked at all of them myself, but my sampling to date tells me this is a fake feature if ever there was one.In my training Process Modeling with BPMN, I wanted to add a big section on how to leverage the cool parts of that notation - events and exception handling, delays and batching patterns, etc - to project process performance using simulation. I know simulation isn't part of BPMN - the spec not only doesn't standardize simulation parameters but doesn't even have the barest concepts of resource pool modeling - but it is a nearly universal feature of modeling tools that use BPMN. So that was my starting point. Since the simulation tutorials of the tools I looked at - where they existed at all - didn't address anything close to real problems of process analysis, I had to make up my own methodology and then apply it to the notation. It was in the course of doing that that I concluded that most modeling tools were missing four basic ingredients needed to make simulation real, not fake: