By Peter Hilton
Two previous articles discuss process modelling and different kinds of process software you might use to set-up process automation. This article carries on from there, to speculate about what might happen next.
The next step for a documented process is execution: run the process to try it out. Using Effektif is a good place to start, because it’s so quick to get started with. Getting started quickly is important because it means you can experiment, and get immediate results.
Even if you want sophisticated business process management (BPM) in the medium to long term, simplified workflow is a good way to get started. Of course, just because you want heavy-duty BPM, that doesn’t mean you won’t discover that it isn’t what you need.
Instead of spending a long time implementing a complex process, with complex software, Effektif gives you a way to get up and running quickly with a simplified process. Once you have the process running, you can refine the process to incrementally improve your application. Discovering a useful process is a good goal for your first experiment, proof of concept, pilot project or whatever your want to call it.
When you start this discovery process, you don’t know what’s going to happen. If you did, you wouldn’t need to experiment. However, it is a good idea to have some idea of the likely outcomes, so you can recognise them and be ready for them.
After you use Effektif to automate a workflow, based on your process model, you will be able to run the workflow, coordinate tasks, keep track of workflows in one place, and get visibility of the work. When you do this, you can expect one of the following scenarios.
None of these is a bad outcome. The only bad result is when it costs a lot of time and money to discover what the situation really is. The important thing is that you can validate your assumptions and learn about your situation quickly. This is the first way that Effektif can deliver real value, and possibly save your organisation a large amount of money.
Running the workflow is the only way to make the process model concrete and experience it from the perspective of doing the work, in order to achieve a concrete result – the process goal. It can be hard to design a process well, but it’s much easier to test it.
When your run a workflow you can discover flaws that mean that it doesn’t really make sense. You may discover decisions that need information that isn’t available yet, or inconvenient handovers between people.
The next step is to return to the model, make improvements and try again. It’s critical that you can do this quickly and easily, so you can iterate your process design. After all, once people are actually following the process to do their work, it’s no longer enough to change the model: you have to change the way that people work together, which is much more involved.
The next possibility is that after running the workflow, you learn that there is not enough complexity or information to keep track of to make it worth using a software tool. Instead, people who are familiar with the process are more productive when they do the work without software support.
You should expect this to be a common scenario, because most people do their work just fine without any process support. This scenario can be a successful outcome if you can discover it quickly, preventing a wasted BPM implementation that risks being costly, and ignored. Perhaps this outcome is only a problem for people with a vested interest in pushing an expensive software solution.
After running the workflow, and iterating the implementation a few times, you may discover that Effektif is the perfect execution platform, and you don’t need anything more. This is the ideal solution, but then we at Effektif would say that, wouldn’t we!
Effektif is a great tool for workflow execution, allowing teams to collaborate on both modelling processes and running them. There are plenty of cases where you can expect to be more productive when your use Effektif to work together.
It is of course possible that after using Effektif to develop a first version of the automated workflow, you conclude that you need a more sophisticated platform, because of some critical feature that is missing. In this case, you can implement your process model on some other platform. This is usually a cost trade-off: everything is possible, if you have the time and money.
What’s critical may depend on your point of view though: Effektif is designed for simplicity, to make it easy to get started with and easy to use. A BPM tool that supports more complicated process modelling concepts isn’t necessarily going to make it easier for people to get their jobs done. Meanwhile, there may be a straightforward workaround.
The final scenario is that after using Effektif to prototype a process application, you identify enough specific requirements that cannot be implemented by general purpose software, and conclude that you want to engage in custom software development.
In this case, you hand over to a software development team that starts a development project to build custom software that embeds your process model. The development team will find the Effektif prototype very useful, because it will already have captured the results of many decisions about how to implement the process, and helped identify more specific requirements than would be possible if you were starting from scratch.
In the same way that a spreadsheet can be a useful tool for prototyping a database application, Effektif is great for prototyping a business process application.
This blog post is part of the Workflow management for beginners white paper.