How to manage process variants

Published on

By Timotheus Kampik

A common challenge you face when scaling a BPM initiative in larger organizations is process variants management. Let’s take the invoice handling processes at a multinational corporation as an example. Of course you want to streamline the processes, but you have to consider the unique regulatory environment of each country your organization operates in.

To tackle this challenge, you typically define ideal global reference processes and create local variants that diverge from these processes where necessary. Global process managers maintain one or several reference processes and ensure the local variants evolve as planned.

Properly maintaining process variants is, however, far from trivial. You must ensure changes to the global process are merged into local variants, and that variations of local processes are kept as small as possible. Otherwise, the variants will diverge to a point where centralized management is no longer possible.

This blog post introduces a hands-on variants management best practice with the Signavio Process Editor. Following this approach, you can reach the best balance between maximal central control of reference processes and optimal process participant involvement in the continuous integration process, all while enabling structured maintenance of local variants.

Getting started with process variants management – hands on

1. Configure access rights

First, you should create separate directories for local and global processes.
To guarantee global process owners are the only ones making changes to global reference processes, the global directory should be read-only for local process modelers:

process variants management starting with configure access rights screen

Ensure only the central process management unit can edit the global processes.

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In the local directories, you might limit publishing rights to the global BPM team to ensure they approve publication of local processes.

2. Enable references from local to global processes

Creating custom attribute to manage references to local process variants screen

Create a custom attribute on diagram level to link local processes from their global counterparts.

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Create a custom attribute on diagram level to manage references to local process variants in global processes. This attribute should always be maintained to ensure you can trace the global process back from a local variant. Moreover, in a global process all local variants are available on a glance. Your global process managers maintain the attribute – a list of diagram links – in the global process.

3. Set up your global processes

Now, create the to-be processes in the global folder. You can use already optimized processes of local subsidiaries or create extra reference processes that omit variant-specific details (for example, details depending on local tax law).

4. Set up your local processes

To create a new local process variant, copy the global reference process into the corresponding local directory and adjust it to the local requirements.
Once the local process is set up, a global process manager adds the link to the list of references in the global process.

Set up  local processes screen

Add a reference to a local process.

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5. Manage changes with the Signavio Diagram Comparison tool

The real challenge of process variant management is process maintenance and improvement.
To succeed, you need a workflow and a tool to keep track of changes.
In Signavio, you can subscribe to specific folders so that the system informs you via email about changes. Moreover, you can configure diagram approval workflows to ensure a local process variant is reviewed by your global process owners.
To identify the exact changes right on the diagram canvas, you can use Signavio’s Diagram Comparison tool:

Signavio Diagram Comparison tool screen

Visualize changes with Signavio’s Diagram Comparison tool.

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6. Collect feedback in the Collaboration Portal

An overly restrictive variants management approach can discourage collaboration and process adoption. That’s why you should invite not only your local BPM teams, but also all other process participants to view the process in the Signavio Collaboration Portal. There they can provide feedback through the commenting functionality.

 invite all process participants for feedback screen

Use the Collaboration Portal to collect improvement suggestions.

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A structured approach to variants management is crucial to ensure process variants remain maximally streamlined. Embracing the aforementioned six steps as introduced by this process enables you keep control of process variants without stifling feedback and continuous improvement.

For a comprehensive take on variants management, stay tuned for an upcoming Signavio whitepaper.

To get started with managing process variants, sign up now for a free trial of the Signavio Process Editor!