Real Business Process Management with BPM systems

At Phipent, we understand that the improvement of the organizations’ performance goes through the adoption of a Business Process Management discipline acting as a transmission system of the company’s value chain. This is only attainable if the chosen strategy matches the initiatives undertaken at each stage of the life cycle of processes, from conception to monitoring, and preserves its validity along time.

Making a brief review to 2010, we notice that the most common extended practice was to model the processes using office applications, and also to implement management systems in which the activities of these processes were carried out. Consequently, the relationship between the Modeling and Implementation phases were weak, causing the rapid obsolescence of the defined processes as a result of the constant evolution of management systems. Furthermore, the functional design and organization of management systems contributed to the lack of control over the validity of the processes defined and consequently its organizational potential. In regard to the monitoring phase, Data mining systems (Business Warehouse) allow the collection and measurement of data management systems and therefore, to focus on activities rather than in a process in itself.

From 2011 onwards, two key factors go along with the extension of the discipline of Business Process Management:

  • The expansion of service-oriented architecture (SOA – Service Oriented Architecture) has contributed the spread of management systems, providing its functionality as web services.

  • The launch of BPMN 2.0 and its adoption by the main workflow engines of the market.

Business Process Management found in these two factors an ideal way to implement that strategy to which we referred at the beginning of the article.In the Modelling phase, BPMN 2.0 has made possible a common and understandable language for both functional and technical teams, so it has minimized the risk of translating business requerimients into inadequate system specifications. Since the other main feature of BPMN 2.0 is that it is an executable language, the implementation phase works on the diagrams produced during the Modelling phase. In this case the relationship between the two phases is strong and there is no gap between the Modelling and the Implementation phases. The final result of the Implementation phase will consist on having deployed processes on the server which will faithfully follow the original specifications of business managers (or process owners).

The stages of implementation and monitoring are intrinsically linked, mainly because the implementation phase contains the active instances (running) of the processes previously modelled, and basic monitoring tools to observe the processes status are essential to perform the operational tasks of a BPM server: the follow-up of active process instances, and the handling of issues that may occur.

In addition to these basic monitoring utilities provided out of the box by a BPM server, we have other options that enable analytical monitoring of process activities:

  • The data mining systems (business intelligence systems), on which we can load the information generated by the BPM engine, and perform an analysis of the processes under the business parameters.

  • Specialized tools or customized reports that allow predictive analysis of running processes. Such tools are particularly useful for those company operations subjected to Service-level Agreement, as they help to anticipate possible defaults as well as to manage them properly so they do not occur.

Note that the ability to load the information from a BPM server to a data mining tool has an enormous potential to undertake optimization tasks and continuous improvement of processes, since it can detect and empirically analyse their weaknesses. Hence, a new cycle in the life of the processes that follows with a redesign, implementation of changes, and so on, would take place.

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