Sebastian Stein is the community manager of ARIS BPM Community, an online portal on business process improvements and management. He focuses on spreading the word about how pictures can help solving complex business problems without turning companies into bureaucratic monsters. Sebastian is an active blogger and writer. He holds a PhD in computer science.
In this conversation, Sebastian discusses the ARIS Express product, and how it can be used to create visual content for PowerPoint slides.
Geetesh: What exactly is ARIS Express, and why did you decide to give it away free?
Sebastian: Well, ARIS Express is a free modelling tool targeting entry users, who never thought about using models to improve their business. There is a big pile of theory behind this business process management (BPM) topic, but in the end it boils down to the fact that a picture is worth a thousand words. So instead of writing several pages about the deficiencies e.g. of your hiring process, you just create a single picture using ARIS Express. Take this picture to discuss it with the involved people to find out why this process is e.g. running slow.
You can apply this idea of using pictures to analyze business problems in many situations. For example, with ARIS Express you can create organizational charts to clarify the power hierarchy or you use a network diagram to visualize your local IT infrastructure.
So why do we provide ARIS Express as freeware? Well, we at IDS Scheer are convinced that using pictures to solve business problems actually works. But we also know from our daily work with Fortune 500 companies that so far it is a technique mostly applied by large corporations. Tools are too expensive and too much knowledge is required to get started, preventing small companies to pick it up. We want to spread the word about BPM and bring it to smaller companies by providing a free tool plus free sample models. In the long run, we as a company will also benefit from more people adopting BPM.
Geetesh: How can PowerPoint users leverage the capabilities of ARIS Express in their slides – can you provide some examples?
Sebastian: We all have a story or two of really bad PowerPoint presentations. People tend to put up a lot of slides with a lot of bullet points. On the other hand, presentation experts tell us that we should focus on less. We should use pictures to illustrate our points instead of creating nested bullet point lists. Here, ARIS Express can be of great help. For example, you discuss how to use an external provider in your accounting process. Instead of describing the integration, create a process model showing the interaction between both parties. Or, use a data model while proposing which data to gather in your next mailing campaign. Again, a diagram with a fresh look will animate workshop participants to think instead of falling asleep. That’s the important point here, because you don’t get many chances to present your point.
Creating such diagrams is fairly easy if you combine PowerPoint and ARIS Express. Just quickly sketch the process in ARIS Express, copy the diagram to the clipboard and paste it in your PowerPoint slide. You can also export a diagram as Microsoft EMF file and add it to your PowerPoint slide or Microsoft Office document later on.