Based on my BPM implementation experience, there are still many large enterprises that want to measure process performances even before they embark on a full fledged BPM life cycle centric initiative. IT teams often find it difficult to get process metrics without having in place an end-to-end BPM implementation for the processes. This also most of the times creates a barrier for organizations to adopt BPM (the BPM Suite) as the key IT and business stakeholders don’t get a quick win. However, in reality, it is still possible to measure process KPIs / performance without changing the way the business processes are being currently executed by enterprises and without having a fully integrated BPM implementation. This blog provides an overview of how this could be done.
As everybody knows, the typical life cycle of a BPM project involves – Modeling -> Execution -> Monitoring -> Improvement.
Based on this, the common understanding is that after a business process is modeled in a BPMS, it needs to be made executable. Organizations believe that “In order to make a business process executable in a BPMS, various steps involved in the process needs to be closely tied up and integrated to the underlying BPMN process model. This will require changes in the mode of execution of the current business processes and need to wait until the core systems are integrated with BPMS inorder to execute, monitor and measure the process performance”. But this is not always true!
By virtue of the fact that the organizations are in business, they will have business processes that are already in execution in distributed environments that includes variety of applications, people and heterogeneous systems. So what is required is process improvement for these processes. With this in mind, the concern can be easily addressed by using Business Process Improvement (BPI) lifecycle, which looks like – Modeling -> Monitoring -> Improvement.
The key difference between BPM and BPI lifecycle is that the “Execution” step has been eliminated. This means after modelling a BPM process in a BPMS, one can directly monitor and measure the performance and improve it. As mentioned earlier, this is because the business processes are already in execution and there is no need to create an integrated and executable BPMN process model.
Most of the BPM suites supports BPI lifecycle very effectively (in addition to BPM lifecycle) by providing:
- The ability to make business processes more explicit – assuming that those processes are already in execution.
- The ability to reflect the status of execution of the process from the execution environment where the business process step is actually executed (for example, a ERP system) in real time.
- Real time analytics.
An example process
Let’s take the example of a Order to Cash execution environment where Orders are recieved, suppliers are informed and shipments happen and goods are delivered. This is a end to end business process in which people execute different steps in the process in potentially heterogeneous systems in the execution environment. In general, organizations will have this execution environment in place (yellow box in the image below) and would like to improve the performance of this Order to Cash process.
This could be done by
- Modelling the business process in BPMN format to make it explicit.
- Reflecting the status of execution of the process in real time in a BPMS. This could be done by monitoring of the transactions in the execution environment (say ERP) and generation of necessary business events that are sent back to the business process instance in BPMS with the help of business event monitoring components generally available in BPMS.
- Once these are done, the real time process data sources provided by BPMS could be used to build KPI dashboards and measure process performance and identify bottlenecks.
For example, in order to eliminate the bottlenecks identified in step 3 above, one of the steps, say “create order” could be automated and this could be very well integrated into the BPMN process model. This will act as the first step in transitioning from BPI lifecycle approach to BPM based approach. This way one can start with a BPM project from a process improvment point of view with very minimal people/ system integration and slowly move towards introducing incremental changes in the process and effect process improvement – which is a proven BPM principle. The key benefits of this model is that the key IT and business stakeholders in an enterprise:
- Will get a first hand knowledge of process performance very quickly with just business events integration between the core back end systems and BPMS.
- Will be geared up to take more business processes into the process excellence initiatives.
- Will gain confidence on the BPM suite and result in enterprise wide adoption.