Hilpert, Wolfgang: Building a Strong Collaborative Infrastructure with Domino Workflow, IBM/Lotus, Cambridge 1999.

THEMES: Hilpert, Wolfgang
YEAR: 1999
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LABEL: Lotus Workflow | ProzessWare | Workflow
PEOPLE: Hilpert, Wolfgang

Building a Strong Collaborative Infrastructure with Domino Workflow [Jun 22]


Wolfgang Hilpert photo

Wolfgang Hilpert, the director of Domino Workflow, and cofounder from OneStone.

An Interview with Wolfgang Hilpert

Lotus and the Domino Workflow team are commemorating the one year anniversary acquisition of OneStone and its product Prozessware. Since that time, the revenue for Domino Workflow has increased over 300% and the projections for 2000 estimate a 200% increase. We took a few minutes to speak with Wolfgang Hilpert, the director of the Domino Workflow product, and cofounder from OneStone. Wolfgang is responsible for the product strategy, architecture, design and development of the Domino Workflow product line.

Wolfgang, tell us about Domino Workflow and how it adds value to Domino.

      Domino Workflow is a standalone product that works on top of Domino. It makes the development of process-centric applications fast and easy. Domino Workflow is a valuable tool for organizations who want to codify their business processes. The Domino Workflow product consists of three components that help our customers develop, manage, and monitor all their business processes.

      Domino Workflow also raises the bar for the complexity of workflows that you want to implement in a Domino andNotes environment. For example, with conditional routing and complex parallel flows -- more than 5 or 10 steps -- an application can quickly become so complex that nobody would want to do this -- much less maintain it.

      The drawback in just using Notes and Domino to build workflow applications is that the workflow piece is hardcoded and distributed across form, views, action buttons and agents. Any changes in the application or the organization require recoding, which takes time, money and people resources. Domino stores all information in a single space. This makes it more difficult to develop sophisticated workflow applications and even more difficult to change them later on.

      Domino Workflow separates key workflow elements so that changes in one do not affect changes in the others. Domino Workflow eliminates cumbersome manual processes that are prone to communication errors. It also allows for smooth and rapid process modifications once such workflow applications have been deployed. Developers can use an iterative approach, making dramatic refinements to the processes within the application without requiring downtime of running workflow applications.

      Domino Workflow lowers the threshold for developers who want to use workflow in their applications and are more adept at reflecting what types of processes people in the organization are currently familiar with.

How do you see Domino Workflow fitting into the Knowledge Management strategy at Lotus?

      The knowledge management strategy at Lotus includes services, methodologies and solutions from Lotus and IBM. Organizations today know their business processes. What Domino Workflow helps them to do is to turn that knowledge into action. Simply put, workflow is an enabling technology that allows the right people to get the right information at the right time.

      Knowledge management provides the framework in which to manage various knowledge components. It is the coordination between people, places and things in a systematic way to meet business objectives. This is a strength of Domino Workflow. It can take both structured and unstructured knowledge processes and codify them into actionable, business processes.

      With knowledge management we are trying to create solid business value propositions for our customer's organizations. Businesses are using knowledge management to rethink given assumptions about people, processes, and technologies. The Domino Workflow tool can help companies deploy knowledge management processes, such as knowledge creation, knowledge exchange, and knowledge transfer.

What kind of customer could most benefit from Domino Workflow?

      I think large customers who have an investment in our Domino infrastructure and want to get more out of that investment could definitely benefit from Domino Workflow. There are also customers who have a different messaging infrastructure but who are looking for a strong collaboration infrastructure. This covers a wide range of industries including financial services, insurance, banking, manufacturing, telcos, utility, and government. Domino Workflow could benefit any customer in a situation where flexibility must be balanced with structure.

How does Domino Workflow fit into a B2B strategy?

      e-business without workflow is e-manual. Domino Workflow helps tie businesses together electronically to exchange processes and information. For example, think of supply chains or supply networks that are being negotiated, defined and implemented. Such networks call for efficient process management capabilities in order to secure the right information flow that goes along with the flow of goods. Domino Workflow adds value both when running the process to set up such supply chains -- for example, when certain interface parameters have to be determined -- as well as during the actual execution of such a supply chain process.

      Domino Workflow is well suited to handle multiple sub-processes in a distributed environment that can be hooked up with XML interfaces. With Domino Workflow, companies can build a process module library that shares its knowledge about processes with other companies.

What would you like to see for the product in the near future?

      I would like to see compelling Domino Workflow based solutions in the market with a strong development community backing that up. We need to continue to raise awareness in the market about workflow in general, and I would like to see Domino Workflow emerge as the dominant player of that market.

The revenue for the product has grown exponentially. Are there any predictions for the product a year from now?

      We are on track for a strong year ahead both financially and developmentally. We are on a growth rate to double our workflow business year over year. From a product perspective we are looking to enhance our graphical tools set. In the next major release there will also be substantial enhancements around programmability. I predict we will have enhanced integration with Lotus (Raven) and other IBM products.

Tell us about your background.

      My foray into the world of workflow began in 1992 where I conducted research in the fields of groupware, workflow management, distributed systems and managed the development of prototypes for workflow management tools based on Lotus Notes. Before founding OneStone, I headed the development of another Lotus Business Partner's Notes-based workflow system that included analysis, modeling and simulation tools and workflow deployment facilities. Then at OneStone, I built and headed the team that created proZessware.

      I received my degree as "Diplom-Wirtschaftsingenieur" (which is the German equivalent of a master's degree for the double major of business administration and mechanical engineering) from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany.