I am finding that the economic challenges on today's companies are resulting in a new wave of "dynamic" needs of existing processes and new processes alike. Specifically:
- companies have reduced work staff, but still the same amount of work
- existing staff are wearing multiple hats and are involved in processes that they were not involved in before
- intra-company communication (both formal and informal) is as extremely important as ever to ensure work is successfully and correctly completed
These challenges are resulting in the need for companies to optimize their processes to ensure they are efficient for today's work staff. But in many cases, companies do have the time and money to spend to perform this formal optimization effort (everyone in the company is doing everything they can to maintain today's level of business). As such, the live processes in today's companies have to be flexible and dynamic to support both the structured and unstructured ways of executing work. Examples I am seeing of unstructured work inside business processes are the abilities to:
- Assign work to any number of people in the company (not just the defined step recipient)
- Route work to any step in a process (different than the defined or default path)
- Share task lists with peers (essentially sharing work load)
- Define informal and temporary "work groups" and have those work groups dynamically involved in processes for a finite amount of time
No one likes to reinvent or reconstruct processes that are already defined (the argument of driving a car looking through the windshield, and not the rear-view mirror). Having said that, process artifacts (step recipients, rules, forms, organizational structures) must have the ability to be defined separately from the processes themselves. With extrapolated process artifacts, companies can optimize, adjust, and modify core business process
functionality without having to formally rebuild business processes because of changing economic times.
To read the original article from Dennis Byron at ebizQ, click here.
VP Product Marketing and Management
Two reasons where I have seen companies slow to adopt process automation efforts are:
- In the process discovery phase, they (the company's business process champions) cannot agree on what the process is and/or how it should operate
- There are too many exceptions that are part of the process and the BPM/workflow tool they are using is not able to easily and quickly account for the numerous exceptions.
One could even argue that fully discovering a business process before entering the automation phase is not compulsory. Rather, the defined and mapped business process best serves the "majority" of the routing situations, and the BPM tool should then be flexible and open enough to allow for unexpected and/or unhandled routing situations. An ideal BPM solution should allow for:
- Any step in the business process to be activated ("jumped to" from any step in the process)
- Any step in the business process to have defined recipients and "ad hoc" recipients (in the case the defined recipient is not available and the task at hand is urgent and needs immediate attention)
At the very minimum, a business process should not be able to be bottlenecked because of any one person not being available to work on the task itself or a company's staff mindlessly pushing tasks through people's inboxes just to get the task at hand to the right person on the right step. In these cases, the automated process is actually a detriment to the company compared to the original manual process. The ability to quickly enter into the process automation phase, but also not risk process chaos because of the possible immaturity of the process, is "phase" of business process evolution where classic business process discovery and initial business process automation actually overlap. Moreover, once the business process has been utilized for some time, through round trip automation, live results of the business process can be compared with the initial modeling efforts of the process to determine how much or how many unexpected routing situations occurred. Meaning, the answer to the question "How different was the modeled process from the executed process?" reveals itself.
Click here to read the original article.
VP Product Marketing and Management
You just completed mapping out your company's business processes (which is no small feat in itself, as process discovery can be a huge project). You now wish to automate these processes for all the obvious reasons such as online data capturing through web forms, mitigating the human error often part of manual process execution, automatic task escalations, etc. Process Automation is another big step to ensure your company's business processes are as efficient and effective as possible. But process automation is not the end-all in your business process initiative (BPI); rather it is just one piece of the puzzle.
An argument can be made that your current business process is not streamlined and efficient as it needs to be. In fact, a very good argument can be made here, as many times, people consider the steps taken in the business process as "just the way we have always done it". Additionally, if your business process was discovered through just employees interviews, as opposed to utilizing automated process discovery technologies, you will probably find that what your employees THINK they do to perform their tasks is quite different from what ACTUALLY is done.
Consider the case that you use a workflow tool, which is geared specifically to automate and manage business processes, to automate one of your company's business processes. Because you did not model your business process or even test your automated business process in a sandbox environment, all of the great work you have done to get to the process automation stage is at serious risk. You have now automated an inefficient, untested, and unproven process. Meaning, the bottlenecks in your business processes are now much more of a problem than they ever were before (as your process users will start complaining about missing tasks, emails being lost, and not having any idea who is the person(s) holding up the process). It will be quickly evident that you should have chosen a business process management suite (BPMS) rather than simple workflow.
In a BPMS, you not only have the ability to automate and manage your business processes, but you also can leverage two other vital concepts: modeling and optimization.
Modeling will allow you to test your process in a sandbox environment first (before the automation stage). By modeling your process, you will be able to determine bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and high resource usage situations in your process. Identifying and resolving these situations in your process first, and then proceeding with process automation, ensures all the work you have performed to get your process to the automation stage will result in success.
Process optimization is vital as your business changes. Your business will change, and as a result, the way your business processes function will change. By leveraging a robust process optimization strategy, you will be able to proactively update and change your automated business processes. Moreover, using an agile process optimization strategy, you will be able to change your business processes more often and more quickly.
By using process modeling and process optimization features as part of your BPI, you will not have to spend all of your time managing your automated business processes themselves, but rather focus on what you really need to focus on: the business itself!
VP Product Marketing and Management
Conducting a successful business in the Life Sciences field is more than just about making money. The Life Sciences industry is subjected to regulatory strains to ensure the products generated are safe. Global Regulatory guidelines come from a variety of places including the FDA, HIPPA, EMEA, ICH, and Health Canada to name a few. The constant changes in the regulatory environment make it nearly impossible to keep up.
In the past few years one of the most prominent compliancy regulations in the Life Sciences field has been 21 CFR. This regulation became extremely important with the FDA guidance on the Electronic Common Technical Document (eCTD) due to the fact that this legislation deals with requirements surrounding Electronic Records, Controls for Open Systems, and Electronic Signatures. One section in particular, part 11, addresses the controls that pharmaceutical companies must put in place for "closed systems", which are environments in which the persons who are responsible for the content control system access. An example of a closed system would be an information system that is contained within an organization's local area network or intranet. These controls require that "Persons who use closed systems to create, modify, maintain, or transmit electronic records shall employ procedures and controls designed to ensure the authenticity, integrity, and, when appropriate, the confidentiality of electronic records, and to ensure that the signer cannot readily repudiate the signed record as not genuine."
Three specific details of 21 CFR part 11 are:
11.10(a): Validation of systems to ensure accuracy, reliability, consistent intended performance, and the ability to discern invalid or altered records.
11.10(b): The ability to generate accurate and complete copies of records in both human readable and electronic form suitable for inspection, review, and copying by the agency.
11.10(c): Protection of records to enable their accurate and ready retrieval throughout the records retention period.
As you can see, issues including data integrity, accountability, and authenticity are vital to conducting business in the Life Sciences field. Ultimus Adaptive BPM Suite Client and Forms are sensitive to these regulations. Specific features and functions in Ultimus Client and Forms provide assurance to IT and Business Managers that their process is completed with the compliancy of regulation oversight, including:
- Encrypted transmissions between Ultimus Clients and Ultimus BPM Server
All modules in Ultimus Adaptive BPM Suite provide secure and encrypted transmissions to and from Ultimus BPM Server. This means that if the transmissions are intercepted by malicious users, the sensitive business data in the transmissions cannot be viewed as "plain text" data.
- Controlled and secure access to business data
Access to Ultimus task lists and the business data associated with Ultimus tasks are always secure, through an authentication process. Authentication prompts appear in both the Ultimus Client as well as direct access to Ultimus forms through hyperlinks in Ultimus email notifications. Even if the Ultimus email notification was inappropriately accesses by another user on another machine, Ultimus would correct block that user from viewing the form.
Ultimus Signature Controls
Many times, Ultimus forms are configured to include signature controls, in order to ascertain that specific users, supervisors, or managers have reviewed the form and authorize the data in the form. Ultimus Signature controls are secure through username and password combinations (configured by the Ultimus Administrator)
Complying with the global Life Sciences and FDA standards is vital to ensuring Life Sciences companies can not only correctly and safely produce their products, but also the privacy and security needed to produce their products is in place. Without the necessary data security features and functions, how could a BPM Suite possibly be utilized in such a critical and sensitive operation?
VP Product Marketing and Management