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1 Introduction

This is a scripted walk through of Prolaborate. It will work with the Prolaborate Instant Trial Options, and is also loaded into Hosted 30-day Trial installations Trial Options. This walk-through uses a business scenario, and is aiming to solve a range of business issues:

  1. Making a large group of people aware of the contents of an EA model. We’ll show how you can select which bits to make public, who can see which bits, and how to customize the user experience, so the viewers will understand what they are looking at. (Comparison here is the EA ‘HTML Dump’ approach)
  2. Getting a probably smaller group of people to view, discuss and update parts of an EA model. Shows how people can create and take part in discussions, as well as update selected parts of the EA model directly.
  3. Getting ideas Approved by a formal process. Show how we can create a Review, get people to review contents of an EA model, and finally give their formal approval.

1.1 NewCo

For the demo, we’ll be using a fictitious company called NewCo.

NewCo have lots of knowledge in their EA model.

This means that it is quite complicated. It has current and past projects, architecture work, some confidential projects, and even sandpits for modellers to try out new things. There's probably nobody in the whole NewCo company who needs to see everything in this model. So they are going to need Prolaborate to help the right people see the right knowledge.

1.2 Who is involved

Andi an EA user, who needs to get other people to help him, where those people aren’t EA Users
Dave Dave is business expert, who is not an EA user. At the start of the demo, Dave has an ID in Prolaborate
Clare Clare, like Dave is also a business expert. She is also not an EA user, and hasn't so far done much with Prolaborate. Both Clare and Dave have business knowledge which is vital to the success of the 'GetLost' project
Beth Dave & Clare’s boss, who will be approving things. Beth will rely on the recommendations of Dave & Clare.

Note: In all Prolaborate setups, there is a “Super user” – They do some lower-level changes to how Prolaborate works. That user doesn't take part in this walk-through.

2 Demo Overview

We’re going to look at:

First we’ll looks at the kinds of information which NewCo have already put into EA, and why that makes it unrealistic to just give business users direct access to it.
 See section 3 - What’s in EA

Then we’ll see what Prolaborate looks like from the point of view of a non-EA using business person, and how Prolaborate changes how business people can look at EA information. Dave, a business user will look at:

4.1. Dashboard, Curation and searching

3. Commenting and discussing

4. Updating EA

5. Getting other people involved

6. Reviewing

We’ll then go back and see how Dave ended up with such a great experience when he used Prolaborate. Andi, who is an EA user and Prolaborate administrator did the following:

7. Setting up a dashboard

8. Giving Access permissions

9. Editing Profiles

10. Featuring a diagram

11. Dave

Beth is the manager of Dave and Clare, and only uses Prolaborate to give formal approval to what’s happening, but also to keep track of what’s happening.


Clare is also a business expert, but unlike Dave, she isn’t a Prolaborate user at the start of the demo. She’s the kind of user who uses the company intranet today, and who we’d like to start using Prolaborate instead


3 What there is in EA already

In this part, we’ll look briefly at what information there is in Enterprise Architect, and why we can’t just give a copy of EA to people like Dave

Note: if you are a Prolaborate Partner, you may have direct access to the underlying EA model via EA Cloud or Remote Desktop. You can show what this model looks like directly. But if you don’t have access, see the image below.

Here’s a view of what’s in the NewCo model:


Notes to demonstrators The main point here is that there is LOTS of stuff in this EA model. After all, it’s the one model used by the whole of the NewCo company.

No way can we just give business users access to EA: there’s too much going on which they don’t care about, and they will probably find it hard to find the bits which they do care about.

And the level of detail in EA is also probably too much for business users. After all, EA is a modelling environment, so it’s always going to have lots of function which non-modellers don’t need.

For example, if you open the details of an activity in a business process, EA shows you:

This is great if you know BPMN, but a bit frightening if you’re not. There are all the BPMN tagged values which probably don’t mean much (even to some BPMN experts!) And the stuff on the left-hand side may not be a surprise to EA users – just the standard attributes which all elements can have – but is really confusing for non-EA users.

And EA doesn’t let us customise the user interface for inexperienced users.

So this is why we need Prolaborate.

4 Dave – the business user

Dave is a business user, and he’s got involved with the Get Lost project to be the expert on some of the new business processes. He’s OK reading process diagrams, but he’s not a BPMN or EA expert.

4.1.1 Some other bits of the Prolaborate User Interface
  1. Searching. This can be difficult in raw EA, as the user seems to need to know a lot about how EA works to get a good result. With Prolaborate the user leaves Prolaborate to do the work.

    Still logged-in as Dave, just type ‘supplier’ into the search: Prolaborate will find elements of all kinds, packages and even diagrams which mention supplier.
  2. Some other bits of the user interface…

  3. a) Dave can potentially see lots of EA repositories
    b) Notifications tells Dave what’s happening in the model at the moment
  4. Still logged-in as Dave: select
  5. Dashboard, click the ‘Make new supplier’ process diagram:
  6. Dave can see this diagram. Remember, it’s coming direct from the live EA model:
  7. Notice the discussion bubbles next to some of the items in the diagram – shows which elements people are talking about. (PS the speech bubbles are the last thing to load:
4.1.2 Dashboard & Curation – conclusions

In this section, we saw how Dave had a quick and easy way of looking at useful knowledge in EA.

  • He was only presented with things which are relevant to him, and they were presented in a friendly and simple way. And he found his way really quickly to the bit of the model which is interesting for him: the new process.

We can now move on to see how Dave can start to add some value to this new process.

4.2 Discussions

Discussions and comments are at the heart of Prolaborate. They let users get really involved with what they are seeing. They can see what other people think, and add their own knowledge. The aim is to provide them with a user experience which is as similar as possible to other 'comment and discuss' type application, which the user may have used elsewhere, so they can re-use that experience.

  1. Optional: On a second machine or another browser, login as, password Beth, so that you can see (a) what Beth sees on her dashboard and (b) the notifications which pop up as Dave adds his comments. Use an ‘in-private / incognito window on your browser, so Prolaborate doesn’t get confused about who is logged-in.
  2. As Dave, Click the Discussion button to see all the discussions on things in this diagram:
  3. Dave can now contribute to the discussions, and start new ones. Have a look at some of the comments which other people have already added:
  4. Click on the bubble next to ‘Investigate Supplier’:

    The number in the bubble tells Dave how many different discussions there are about this thing
  5. Dave can see that Beth – his boss – has made a comment:
  6. Dave agrees with Beth (he needs this job! ) so adds a reply to her comment:

    ...and clicks submit. His comment is immediately available to everyone else.
  7. Dave moves on to look at some of the other comments which are already in the diagram. Look at another comment- the one attached to the ‘Supplier ready‘ event:

  8. Beth doesn’t seem to understand the diagram, but Dave remembers that there was a diagram which explained what all these symbols meant. He’ll tell Beth where to find the diagram, by attaching a link to his comment.
    He types ‘try this’ and clicks the ‘references’ link:

    When the dialog pops up, he just starts to type “guide’ in the search box, and clicks on the option ‘Guide to BPMN diagrams’.

    Now, when Beth gets notified that Dave has responded, she’ll also see a link to that diagram.
    You can reference any number of other EA things (diagrams, elements or packages) in a comment.

4.3 Updating EA Data

So we have seen how Prolaborate users can explore and comment on information from EA. We’ll now see how they can edit that data directly from within Prolaborate.

Dave has been asked to add some process ‘measures’ – times and costs – to the new process.

This gives quick access to the important things about this EA Activity Choose Attributes:

(note that this is Dave’s view of a BPMN acivity. Compare it to the raw EA view of the activity we saw above) Lots to say here:

1. The list of attributes which Dave can see is WAY smaller than what EA saves

2. He has been given write access to some of the attributes: just the ‘Documentation’ (EA ‘notes’) and the Measures

3. Hovering over the ‘i’ gives Dave some help about what the fields mean: he doesn’t need to be an EA expert

4. He can now input the Cost &Time (say 10 (USD) cost and 20 (minutes)

5. This data will appear immediately in EA, once he saves the changes

6. All this was defined by the Prolaborate Profile which Dave is using. It’s a simplified BPMN one, based on the supplied BPMN profile (from EA, but NewCo have added a few bits of their own) but made simpler so that business users can see what they need to do.

If time, go back to EA to see the TVs that Prolaborate created

4.4 Getting other people involved

Now that Dave is commenting on, and updating, the new processes, he decides that he’d like to consult one of his co-workers about this process – Clare has more experience than him about this area.

Dave has lots of ways he can choose to get Clare involved: Looking at the diagram, he can:

  • Invite a collaborator to look at the whole diagram.

Dave clicks the ‘Share’ button on the diagram, chooses ‘invite collaborators’, and types “Clare” into the Email field:

Clare will now get an email, inviting her to take part, with a link to this exact diagram

  • Dave could have chosen any email address to send an invitation to. Provided the receiver has access to Prolaborate, then that user will be able to see the diagram, even if they aren’t a Prolaborate user and don’t have a licence! If those users want to take part in discussions or reviews, or change any EA data, then they need to have an ID and a Prolaborate licence.
  • Dave could have just tagged Clare in one of his comments to let her know he’d like her to contribute
  • Dave could also have taken another of the Share options, and created a URL for this diagram
    a) Choose ‘Share / Share this link’
    b) This creates a URL which Dave can paste into any other application: SharePoint, Jira, a wiki, or any other application which will accept a URL. Clicking on that URL will then take any user direct to this diagram.

4.5 Reviewing and Approving

Dave has had an informal look at the new process, and he’s now got Clare involved to help him. But Andi also wants Dave to review, and his boss Beth, to approve each process. Normally this would mean waiting until they are all complete, and create a huge document. With Prolaborate, Andi can just setup a Review (see below) to get Dave to look at a process, and when he is happy, Beth can approve it.
Andi has already setup a review for another process: ‘Supplier Setup’, and invited

  • Dave as a “reviewer” and
  • Beth as the “Approver”
  • From Dave’s dashboard, click on the Supplier Setup review:
  • In the List of Artifacts, Dave can see exactly what Andi is asking him to review
  • Dave just clicks on the ‘Setup new supplier content’ diagram open the diagram

  • The diagram is very simple, and he’s ok with it
  • There is also the summary of the process:
  • As Dave is OK with both the diagram and the process, he ticks ‘Accepts:

Ok – Andi now knows that Dave has accepted those items, and he can get Beth to Approve them.

4.6 Conclusions

Dave has now successfully

  • found the business process which Andi wanted him to look at
  • looked at some comments, and added his own
  • added some new information to the model
  • invited some other users to take part in creating the process.
  • Reviewed and accepted another process, so it’s now ready for Approval.

5 Andi – the EA user and Prolaborate Administrator

Dave didn’t get such a smooth route through Prolaborate without some effort, so this section shows what magic Andi had to do behind the scenes.

His part of the demo assumes you have now understood how to navigate around Prolaborate, so doesn’t have such detailed instructions.

Andi is a Prolaborate Administrator, which means he has lots more options than regular users.

5.1 Setting up/ Editing a dashboard

  1. Login as Andi:, password Andi

  2. Open the NewCo repository, and choose ‘Manage Dashboards’ from the Setting menu

  3. Choose the ‘Get Lost – New Business Process’ - Configure /Edit
  4. You can upload a graphic and some text about the Dashboard- use this to make the user feel at home when they first see Prolaborate.
  5. You can add new rows, add blocks within rows, and, within each block, add the different kinds of content: text, diagrams, artifacts etc.
  6. Note that you may want to create additional diagrams in EA to get maximum use out of this: we decided to create the chart which shows the status of each process.

  7. This lets you manage who can access which dashboards, but if one user belongs to many groups and so gets many dashboards, they get to choose which one they’d like to see by default

5.2 Giving Access permissions

A key part of making Prolaborate simple for the user is to hide what they don’t need to see. Prolaborate does this through a simple access permissions mechanism.

  1. Choose Settings / Access permissions
  2. Left hand side shows the ‘sections’ Andi has defined in the model. These are just packages from the EA repository, and don’t need to follow the same hierarchy as EA
  3. Just select one, and see which users/group have permission to do what: Read, Write and Collaborate
  4. If you find a Section with no permissions, that just means it’s not visible through Prolaborate.
  5. To do a final check of who can see what, select the user from the ‘Preview by user’ dropdown, and Prolaborate will calculate everything that the user is allowed to see

5.3 Setting-up a review

A review involves:

  • Some content from the model
  • Some users – either as Reviewers, Approvers or both
  • Some dates
  1. Choose ‘add review’ from the Review menu, bottom left:

  2. Give the review a name – this is what the user will see in their list of reviews
  3. Give it a start and end date. Users won’t be able to start their review before the start date, or after the end date.
  4. For a simple review, where the same people are all reviewing the same content, check the ‘Add Reviewers / Approvers in Review Level’ option
  5. Add some reviewers, some approvers, or both
    Note: Once the Review period is ended, or all the items have been reviewed, Prolaborate will NOT automatically move the review into ‘Approval’ state. This is so that the creator of the Review can stay in control over what happens.

5.4 Editing Prolaborate Profiles

Viewing the Profile that Dave was using

  1. Login as Andi

  2. Choose

  3. Choose:

  4. Edit the ‘Core BPMN’ which Andi created

  5. This is the Profile

  6. Edit the Configuration for ‘Activity’
  7. Notice all the ‘Technology Attributes’ which we might have included, which would REALLY confuse Dave!
  8. We chose some of the Basic (EA) attributes, plus we invented some new ones in the Custom Attributes bit. ‘Color’ should be there already
  9. Drag/drop ‘Color’ to the list of ‘measures’,save
  10. Open an Activity on one of the processes, and the new Color attribute should be there

5.5 Featuring a diagram or package

A user like Andi, who is an Admin, can flag certain diagrams as ‘Sticky’ (or ‘featured’). This is a system-wide setting, so any user who has a dashboard which displays the Sticky diagrams will see it. It’s a good way of making people generally aware of new stuff, without having to email everyone.

  1. In the Access Permissions tree view, expand, and just tick the pin next to a diagram
  2. That’s it!

6 Beth - A Business Manager

Beth is the manager of Dave and Clare. She’s not an EA user, not even a very regular Prolaborate user, but she needs to use Prolaborate sometime to approve things which Dave and Clare have already looked-at.

She needs a very different kind of Prolaborate, so Andi has created a different dashboard for her, and other NewCo managers.

He’s trying to give these managers an idea of what’s going on in EA/Prolaborate, without getting into too much detail

a) The reviews which Beth needs to look at.
i) Orange ones are being looked-at by her team
ii) Green ones need her attention (see below)
b) ‘What’s New’ is a list of the current diagrams which other users have flagged as ‘Sticky’ – worth looking at. Note these are just the ‘sticky’ diagrams which she is allowed to see – not all of them
c) The RAG status of some projects. These are just EA diagrams, created inside EA using information from the model.
d) Finally, some projects which are in progress, and a diagram which shows a new business model the managers are participating in.

The Supplier Account -FINAL process is ready for her to approve.

  1. If you are already logged-in to Prolaborate as someone else, logout and login as Beth.
  2. You’ll see the Management Team Dashboard.
  3. This contains:
  4. Approving a Review

  5. Click on the ‘Supplier Setup – FINAL’ link
  6. This then shows details of the Review
  7. She can see there are no open discussions, so she approves the ‘Open New Account’ process and its diagram.

7 Clare - another business expert, but not yet a Prolaborate user

Clare, like Dave, is a business expert, but she is not currently a Prolaborate user.
She’s one of a large group of users who might need to use the knowledge which is in Prolaborate. So there is a dashboard just for them.

Here the demo, and the real system, differ slightly.
In the real Prolaborate system, Clare would be asked to provide an email address and some other details, and Prolaborate would send her a conformation email.
But this demo system doesn’t send emails to real email addresses for privacy reasons.
So, for the purposes of the demo, login to Prolaborate as
password: PL_Guest

a)What kinds of model curation might they need to do in EA to improve that experience?

  1. Clare is looking through the wiki, and sees a link which Andi (Prolaborate Admin User) has recently added: “If you’d like to see our new company knowledge store, click here and login as a guest’ See link to intranet
  2. Clare clicks on the link
  3. Clare sees the ‘guest dashboard’ – this is exactly what guests like Clare will see.

  4. She can see some projects in the Prolaborate Project Browser (but not all – Andi doesn’t let guests see some projects)
  5. She can also see information about some of those projects in the dashboard – like introductions and overviews
  6. There are also some delivered projects there as well.
  7. She notices that the GetLost project is in the list – she’s involved (a bit) in the GetLost project. So she can email Andi and ask to be made a member of a real Prolaborate group.
  8. Question for audience: what kinds of information would they expect a ‘guest’ user in their organisation to see here?

8 Appendix A – Personas

8.1 Andi

Andi is 36 and has worked in NewCo since he left university. He´s been a programmer, an analyst, and now works in the Architecture team. He's been using Enterprise Architect for about 4 years. Andi, think this should be and - and still part of the previous sentence. There should also not be a capital on the word The in biggest challenge The biggest challenge of his job is getting the attention of the business people he needs to talk to. He really enjoys doing workshops and talking 1:1, because he feels he learns lots about how the business works. But when he presents what he's discovered back to the business, he never feels he's quite 'got it'. He's missed something they already knew, or hasn't quite understood what they meant. What he needs is a way for those business experts to help him add what they know to what he knows. Then he'd have fuller picture, and they can all make better decisions about how to move forward.

8.2 Beth

Beth is 45 and has been working for NewCo for 8 years, since she was headhunted from a rival company. She manages the Customer Product Delivery team, which is a department of around 65 people, some in a small call centre who handle customer issues, some supplier relationship managers, and a handful of business experts, who she uses as troubleshooters for the really tricky customer issues. Beth is busy. Really busy. Her team are the public face of the company, so there are always issues to deal with...... She´s really keen to improve how the team works, both the way they tackle day-to-day problems, and the IT systems they use to fix them, but the IT guys seem to change every few months, so no sooner does she finish 'training them up' than they move on to some other project. So she has to start over again with the new guy. It would be great if just once someone from IT turned up knowing what the last guy knew, and understood the time-pressures they are under. And her team never have time for these 'workshops' the IT guys want. And she NEVER has time to read all the documents they send, let alone 'sign them off', so even though it's her who is responsible, she usually has to get one of the team to do it.

8.3 Clare

Clare is 53 and has been Beth´s 'go to' troubleshooter since soon after she joined the company, so they know each other really well. Clare's daughter even baby sits Beth's children. Clare has more than 30 years’ experience of the travel industry, and she's seen all kinds of crazy ideas come and go. Some make things better, some just make things different, so she's pretty cynical about whatever 'next big thing' IT come up with. She's done Quality Circles, Enterprise Databases, the Paperless Office project ("that was a great success = NOT") and a load of alphabet soup projects which were "going to change her life". She still spends most of every day fixing issues with suppliers and customers, trying to keep the show on the road. The only real change she's seen in all those years is the speed of the business. Everyone wants an answer right now, or yesterday. There's no time to think. She's always been frustrated with IT. They lock her up into 2 day workshops for some new project or other, (she usually has to send one of the team instead) then expect her to turn around a 200 page document in a couple days. Then, whatever they come up with usually shows they don't really understand what makes the business tick.

8.4 Dave

Dave works with Clare, in Beth´s team. He's not as experienced as Clare - he's only been in the business 20 years! Which still seems to be about 19 years more than most of the IT guys... Dave's speciality is supplier relationships. He's known some of the suppliers for years, and he thinks it's that personal touch which lets him get things done. Most of his time is spent sorting out payment issues with suppliers: they always complain that payments are wrong, or commissions too low, or sometimes both. Dave's role will be as a peripheral person on the team, who has read-only access to lots of things, and gets invited to collaborate in things.

8.5 Felix

Felix is 45 and has just been hired as Head of Architecture & Design for NewCo. He previously worked for a competitor company, but NewCo offered him a more interesting job, and a reasonable pay rise. Felix quickly realised that NewCo have a problem with getting IT to be responsive to the changing needs of the business. The business see IT as just another cost overhead - Felix want it to be what he calls a ´value centre'. He's aware that some members of his team use some tool called 'Enterprise Architect' to draw lots of diagrams, but what he really needs is some place to bring together all that IT know about the business, and which the business can add value to. His #1 problem at the moment is the 'Get Lost' project, which is creating a new customer website for booking environmentally-responsible travel. This is aimed at their business clients, and he knows that the board are very focused on getting this implemented - right - as soon as possible, as some of NewCo's competitors have solutions like this already. He really needs to get the NewCo business people engaged with this project, so the same-old-solution approach just won't get it delivered in time.

8.6 Gina

Gina is a Project Manager, and works for the same guy who is Felix´s boss. Gina is 34, has a young family, and has project-managed all kinds of projects in all kinds of companies: construction, finance, and now IT for travel. The first thing she noticed when she arrived at NewCo was how hard it is to get all her stakeholders to even attend meetings, let alone agree stuff when they get there. The IT team always seems to have to make assumptions, which make her risk register a bit scary.

9 Appendix B – How it Works

For those who want to know some of the technical details, this is a diagram of what the moving parts are:

This demo usually works with the Share EA Database on the same server as the Prolaborate web server.

9.1 Options for connecting to EA Repositories

9.2 Software needed to make Prolaborate work