BPM Modeling Strategies Explained

I have made a couple of posts on approaches to process modeling and how benefits can be derived from using itterative methods over the last few months. Here is another one that I find very interesting as it explores the eternal question of  ‘BPM Model Preservation vs Model Transformation’.

The recent presentation (with embeded audio) given by Keith Swenson at the  2009 Process.gov conference in Washinton DC on June 19, explains how a process model may or may not change over its lifetime i.e. static business model to execution in a BPMS and what the various considerations and trade offs are.

Keith identifies 3 kinds of change that a process may undergo:

  • Business Process Enactment: – the business process as it moves from the beginning to the end of handling a single case. The process definition does not normally change here, only the process instance or context that records the state of a particular case changes.
  • Business Process Lifecycle: – these are the changes that a business process goes through from initial concept, to modeling, to integration, and finally to deployment into an enactment environment.
  • Business Process Improvement: – the change to a business process that occurs over time through repeated use of the business process lifecycle followed by analysis of how well that version of the business process worked.

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The Benefits of BPM when Going Green

I have posted on this subject before and thought it would be good to revisit the subject as it is very topical and important.

“Going Green” in the context of IT seems to be very focussed on how businesses can reduce their operational costs WRT their physical infrastructure e.g. datacentres, server consolidation/reduction, virtualisation, cooling and power consumption improvements etc. 

green-business-11-greenest-corporations-portfolio An aspect that is recognised as being able to contribute to cutting costs (in support of Going Green) is the optimisation of the business working practices.

This however is not always clearly understood and as readily quantifiable as the more accepted case for physical infrastructure changes.

 In a recent article published on eWeek a case study from Tetra (a global Aquarium and fish food manufacturer) is used to explore how after adopting BPM, the streamlined process allowed its engineers, scientists and other knowledge workers across the globe to collaborate about changes to their product line online. This reduced the travel, paper consumption and also allowed them to realize their enviornmental benefits.  Continue reading

How Business Leaders can Help IT Deliver ‘Real Value’ to the Business

Foreword: I have written various posts in the past that discuss the typical problems that can be solved for the business by using a BPMS and process automation. I thought it was about time to consider the challenges IT have to manage when not using a process centric approach.

Organisations need to change their focus from being functionally driven to being process driven to be really successful in their adoption of BPM. This is not always as hard as it first sounds.

Most of the organisational and technical building blocks almost surely already exist within the organisation in some form or other. The challenge is to align them together in a consistent and continuous way i.e. using business processes, a BPMS  and ensuring that cultural and human behavioural changes are well managed.

Paraphrasing Gartner, the typical characteristics of functional driven organisations include the following:

  • Organisational roles and responsibilities are functionaly aligned
  • Managers have visibility that is limited to their functional areas
  • Business is very dependant on IT to schedule application changes
  • Functional tasks and process hand offs are implied causing fragmentation
  • Costs are managed by functional area
  • Risk management is done using gut feel and relies greatly on experience with limited numeric evidenece due to lack of integrated and trusted reporting information

The organisational characteristics for a process centric organisation typically include:

  • Roles and responsibilities are aligned to process acitivities
  • Management visibility is based on an end to end business process understanding
  • Business is less dependant on IT for small changes to business rules and process tasks
  • Functional tasks and process hand offs are explicit, therefore reducing the occuraence if inefficient and broken processes
  • Risk management is done using operational metrics and simulation ensusing a proactive approach rather than reactive

 

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Information Overload! – Making a case for Dynamic BPM

Foreword: Have you ever had one of those days where you have been out of the office and returned to an email inbox that is creaking at the seams? I am probably lucky in that I can manage my inbox proactively by using my PDA. Some would argue I have sold my soul to the ‘always-on’  personal time vampire, but that is tale for another day…..

In a world where email is commonly accepted as the primary electronic corporate communication mechanism, employees often find themselves having to filter through huge amounts of irrelevant emails to find those that are really intended for them. Assimilating the various pieces of information we deal with every day, prioritising the results and making decisions as to which to action, is a natural and logical process, one that we all do as a matter of course.
A problem however arises when the occurrence of these pieces of structured and unstructured information exceeds a threshold that is not always manageable by the individual. The resulting information overload can create an unintentional human bottleneck that may impede the normal workings of the organisation. On an individual basis this may seem like a manageable a problem but, consider multiplying this scenario by 50% of employees in an organisation on any given working day of the week.

This problem is validated by research from The Radicati Group into Information Overload and Corporate Email.

“In 2006, the average corporate e-mail user received 126 e-mail messages per day, an increase of 55% since 2003.

If users spend an average of one minute to read and respond to each message, this flood of e-mail traffic will consume more than a quarter of the typical eight hour work day – with no guarantee that users actually read the messages that are most important.

Additionally, if e-mail traffic continues to increase at this rate, the average corporate e-mail user will spend 41% of the workday managing e-mail messages in 2009.”

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Green BPM, How well understood is the ROI?

I came across an article in which the author raised some interesting points about how process automation can contribute to ‘Green IT’ initiatives.

The author suggests that Goverments should mandate the use of workflow for these initiatives and identifies these potential benefits:

  • Reduced paper use
  • Collaborating and efficiency gains (by improving processes)
  • Carbon footprint reduction

I agree that there is great potential in automation for these type of initiatives but as a pragmatist I would suggest that organisations do not always fully understand how and when to address automation and the the Green IT agenda to ensure quantifiable business benefits.

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Making the Complex Simple – How best to streamline and automate business processes

I work with various organisations and in my experience, they are typically in various states of maturity in terms of their understanding and adoption of BPM. The one thing I do tend to find  is that they all seem to share common problems.

In this post I have listed some of the ones that I come across and also explain an approach that can be adopted to help move them from a reactive business to one that is more proactive and dynamic in making better decisions.

Organisations are inherently composite and complex ecosystems in which business processes are pervasive. This complexity generally manifests itself in various ways and can include the following:

  • Management and employees have difficulty in making correct decisions due to not having accurate and timely information.
  • Information is of devoid of business context (not seen in as part of a business process) and therefore may lead inconsistent decisions.
  • Planning is often difficult due to ‘broken’ processes, poor working practices and inconsistent information.
  • IT systems that support the various business processes act as inhibiters rather than enablers as they are typically designed deployed and managed as information islands or stove pipes.
  • Enforcing business rules, policies and procedures is an arduous task due to poor process visibility, accurate real time information and no integrated or consistent auditing.

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How BPM can help drive down IT Operational costs

Foreword: Recently I was doing some research into IT operational cost management and specifically how discretionary spend can be increased for use in new and innovative projects across an organisation. I came across some interesting data and have summarised some of my thoughts from a white paper I was writing on how a BPMS can support this type of initiative.

Organisations are continually under pressure to do ‘more with less’ and this is especially true in organisations where IT departments are seen by the business as being unresponsive and a cost centre, rather than ensuring innovation. This may be further exacerbated by external pressures such as competitors encroaching on existing markets and global economic challenges.

Research has shown that CIOs continually have to ensure that business demands are aligned with available IT resources and budget constraints. It is generally accepted that at least 80% of IT resources and budgets are spent on ongoing maintenance. This creates a dilemma for CIOs and IT departments who have to find ways of reducing operational costs, and designing and delivering solutions more effectively.

“78% of large enterprise budgets are swallowed in existing maintenance–keeping the lights on”
“40% of enterprise scale companies are seeing IT budgets reducing in real terms”
Source: The Bathwick Group, Driving business value from IT, Dec 2007

 

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