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“The content and description of this course was very appealing because many processes in Payroll and Benefits are data and systems dependent requiring consistent application of policies and procedures. Two aspects of the course— standardization and cellular teams— were most relevant to us. We do many things in teams; but, we don’t always do them the same way. Already, we are seeing results in standardizing our work processes and reducing waste. For example, we found that some of our teams calculated the company’s pay equalization for military duty differently, using slightly different assumptions. Together, the teams looked at the different methods and rationales, found common ground and built new standard operating procedures for everyone that achieved the best results for the employee and company.”

Tim Muffly
Director, Payroll Administration
PPG

 

Innovative Ideas from bpmNEXT 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 7.39.11 PMFor the last two years I have attended the bpmNEXT conference in Asilomar, CA in March.  For me, coming from the business side of BPM it is a great place to hear about all kinds of new technology innovations in the BPM field and see demos of how the applications work.

Here are three that I really enjoyed at this year’s conference and one won Best in Show. Check out the video on line when the presentation is available on bpmNEXT ( in 1-2 weeks)  for anyone to view

Automation of Manual Processes with Synthetic API’s, Stefan Andreasen, Kapow

Yes, there is automation available for most business processes now, but BPM users are still burdened with many manual and highly repetitive tasks and these are very time consuming and prone to ‘human’ errors.

As Stefan (the presenter) noted, the problem is that Big data  comes from a disparity of data sources and the challenge for the user is how to  tie them together, integrate them, and ultimately automate them.  He showed how Synthetic API’s could be built to build robots (really machine-driven activities) to extract content from multiple sources and insert them in B2B processes so that the manual cutting and pasting is eliminated. 

As I was thinking of an example that I could use personally, I though about buying and selling options in the financial markets.  I use two to three online financial market analysts that suggest stocks to buy, at what time, at what price, and when to sell stocks in a portfolio as well.  Weekly I recommend stocks that are reputable that my husband might buy options on.  He then goes an does research on these stocks, and looks at their option prices and decides if he wants to buy any.  It would be so much easier if we could use API’s to collect the research, select the stocks, review the options and then track the options he buys or sells in a portfolio.  But this is just one type of example. You can probably think of other examples in your processes where repetitive manual work still exists.

Blending Structured Flow and Event Condition Action Patterns with Business Process Models, John Reynolds and Amy Dickson, IBM

Yes, IBM sometimes moves slowly and it is a huge vendor in the BPM space. The good news is that makes IBM think hard before it makes changes to its products for so many customers.  What John and Amy showed (and it is still coming in the actual IBM product) was how case management activities and structured BPM flows could exist together.  These two process methods have been contending with one another for the last few years, with dynamic case management saying they are totally different from processes in structured process flow (BPMN).  And they are somewhat different, but from my perspective as a practitioner they need to work together because that is how customers/business think of them and perform the work. 

So IBM has developed a diagramming method, which combines cases and structured IBM.  Simply, the modeling just puts the case activity as a rounded rectangle in the flow but with no sequence flows attached to it.  So the reader sees its placement and knows it is a situation, which is an event driven case that will happen in that place.  Now underneath that, the case activity is linked to the structured flow  so the full BPMN diagram knows what is happening at the case activity point and when it will move to the next activity.  I just felt it was so simple, and so understandable. 

Illuminating Business Operations Operation Process Intelligence, Thomas Volmering and Harsh Jegadeesan, SAP

Harsh showed a fascinating example of a huge end-to-end process for a customer who manages freight that is transported by planes daily to multiple locations.  The business objective is to keep these planes on schedule amid a myriad of problems–weather, airport difficulties, container management, and employee or other resource challenges. What the business wants is to be able to use operational intelligence to make decisions real time, so the data has to be visible, integrated, and easy to understand for the operations manager at each site and the executive overall the whole process.

As Harsh pointed out this information comes from multiple systems in heterogeneous landscapes, creates large amounts of data, and involves people from multiple departments. He showed all kinds of dashboards with specific operational metrics.  But here’s what was different.  The data was built off a high level value stream model (6-10 steps) that all the operational managers understood—so it was process data about the different phases (subprocesses) of the process.  Then there were KPI’s that were key to the daily operation – such as % completed on time, cycle time shipments and more specifics like unload time, breakdown time, buildup time,  and number in repairs.  And the operations manager could just click and drill down farther to see what was happening with plane, shipments, and problems in different locations so he could do some root cause analysis and take actions to fix the problem real time.  And the system makes predictions as well – such as forecasting when a shipment will actually go out.    Now the business intelligence is going to start adding weather patterns to introduce that variable to the mix. .  This is all real time so problems can be understood, and predictions with recommendations made, so the process will run more smoothly each day.

This was my favorite presentation.  It showed how big data from multiple sources could be gather, presented, and used by operational manager real time. But the Best in Show winner was Synthetic API’s from Stefan Andreasen.

 

 

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