Building and deploying your first business process is a great experience. Inevitably, as soon as the first business process is complete, you will have pressure to start your second. When this time comes, as a best practice, you should consider how much construction of your first process you can reuse for your new process. The ability to reuse process artifacts not only saves you time and effort, but also provides consistency across processes for reporting and Business Intelligence (BI) purposes. One example of process reusability is the data library that supports the business process.
For instance, if your first business process was a HR process where you captured information pertaining to your company employees,most likely, this business process would contain data elements such as Employee Name, Address, and Social Security Number (SSN). This process will also include accounting fields such as Salary and Hire Date. If your next business process also includes adding employee information, recreating the same data fields in the new process means duplicating the work from your first process. More efficient approaches to building your new process would be to either:
- Create an external data library detailing your employees and importing that into your business process
- Exporting the data library from your first process and importing it into your second
By utilizing a consistent data library across all of your processes, reporting on your business processes becomes a fluid and easy task. For example, if you plan on reporting across all of Sales Order processes to capture a field such as Order Total, when your processes are built on the same data library (where the field in this library is called Order_Total), then reporting on these processes is easy. You can be assured that the "Order Total" amounts you are retrieving from each process have the same inherent definition.
Have you thought about creating a unified data library for your business processes? If not, how much time are you spending organizing and collecting the data in your business processes?
VP Product Marketing and Management
Social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, which began as way to connect with other people, find old friends, and share photos, have grown significantly over the last five years. Today, they are much more than just a way to stay connected- they are a way to advertise and do business all around the world. With upwards of 50 million users, Facebook has been consistently growing since 2005, making it one the most popular places to advertise. Moreover, with roughly 60% of facebookers located outside of the US, Facebook has become a powerful channel for international growth and entering global markets. With so much time and money being spent on social networking it is no wonder why so many businesses are focusing their efforts on creating company profiles and building their social networks.
Challenging MySpace and Facebook, is LinkedIn, which takes a more professional networking approach, allowing individuals to post job experience, look for work, form professional groups and get introduced to contacts of their contacts. Another important player in the social networking arena is Twitter, which is rapidly growing in popularity as it allows people and businesses the ability to post short messages and links quickly and easily throughout the day.
What's more interesting about social networking as a whole is the ability to pick and choose which groups to join, what to become a fan of, who to follow and who to connect to as it provides you with direct access to information and news that you are most concerned about. Twitter provides an excellent example of this as many people include external links in their posts to relevant or interesting information. Typically clicking through the links of those you are following on Twitter puts you in touch with the news stories, blogs, and information that you care most about. What's more intriguing is the number of people who live day-to-day "re-tweeting" or blogging these updates and articles on other social networking sites. Before you know it, a simple post has traveled all around the world.
In the growing age of social media and how we network with others we are also changing the way we learn and expand our day to day knowledge. It is becoming less and less about newspapers and magazines and more about the links, news, updates, and events that are being posted on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
From a business stand point, with social networking sites you have the ability to stay informed on current process improvment efforts and initiatives of your customers and partners, and vice versa. It provides a strong channel of communication for:
- product updates
- changes in regulatory compliance
- industry changes on the horizon
- upcoming events
Over the last couple of months Ultimus has been using social networking sites to invite customers
, prospects, and partners
to featured webcast events and to share a wealth of industry information and materials. The ability to exhange knowledge with users worldwide has never been easier or more effective. Social networking makes staying in touch, whether with friends, family, customers, or partners seamless and simple. Adding to the realm of social networking, here are a few interesting sites:
Be sure to check Ultimus out on the web as well:
Mary Katherine Strupe
Ultimus recently held its first ever case study contest, where customers submitted their process improvement stories and were entered into a drawing to win one of several grand prizes. First of all, we would like to thank everyone that participated in the contest and took the time to tell us about the success they've experienced with the Ultimus Adaptive BPM Suite. With high interest around the contest many process improvement stories were submitted. Some of the highlights were:
"With the implementation of the Ultimus Solution we can see an increase in productivity by 40%."
"Using Ultimus Adaptive BPM Suite we increased patient satisfaction, and reduced lag time in our scheduling process."
"Now, we can immediately see where a request is in its process, we can tell who it is currently assigned to, we can reassign as necessary, and users are able to track progress by using a link to the incident status instead of calling IT."
"The number of calls to IT and subsequent manual activity has dropped dramatically since we implemented Ultimus' BPM software".
"Ultimus has been a success both in terms of the savings it enables and the way it facilitates corporate and non-academic procedures throughout our ten schools."
Thanks again to everyone who participated; once all submissions have been reviewed we will select a grand prize winner. Stay tuned for other Ultimus Contests.
Mary Katherine Strupe
Ultimus hosted Part 2 of the Expert Webcast Series yesterday. Speakers Dr. Jack Lewin, CEO of the American College of Cardiology (ACC)and Tina Grande, SVP of Policy, Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC)teamed up to deliver a powerful, in-depth look into the changes taking place in the Healthcare Industry. Providing case studies, personal experiences, and vast industry knowledge, they discussed topics such as:
- The sweeping transformations being mandated in Health Information Technology (HIT)
- How to obtain stimulus funding for making "meaningful use" of HIT best practices
- What is "meaningful use"
- The transition to Electronic Health Records(EHRs)
- The consequences hospitals and healthcare providers will face if they fail to comply with the new technology standards.
- Deadlines for implementing the new standards
- where the healthcare industry can benefit from process automation
With close to 94% of hospitals unprepared for the changes that lie ahead and $19 billion available in stimulus funding for HIT, now is the time to take advantage of financial incentives and to plan for future growth. As it typically requires a great deal of time to plan, select, and implement a workflow automation
system that is right for your organization, you need to begin the process now. "Early adopters" of EHR
and HIT best practices will receive the greatest amount of funding. Stay ahead of the competition, why not start your process automation initiatives today?
If you missed the webcast, click here to request your copy!
Mary Katherine Strupe
Most business champions and IT executives understand what workflow is, and how it can add process automation value to day-to-day company operations. A common theme I see in the field are companies becoming enticed in the workflow features of non-workflow applications. It seems the majority of non-workflow / non-BPM applications (such as CRM, ECM, DMS, etc) are touting that in addition to the core competencies of their applications that users can also build workflows in the applications. You cannot blame companies for being attracted by trying to build workflows in their existing applications for any of the following reasons:
- Their data is already there in the application
- Workflows are touted as natural extensions to the data
- Companies "save money" by not having to secure another application
But while today's workflow problem is seemingly solved, it is tomorrow's enterprise solution needs that will eventually come to haunt them. In fact, the original investments in workflow in their pre-existing solutions will result in significant time and cost waste. By not first identifying and reviewing the benefits of a quality BPM solution
, companies run the risk of causing more data chaos when facing the fact that their BPM needs are inevitable. Consider the following:
In this situation, the company has built individual workflow processes in conjunction to each point solution application. Arguably, each workflow solution, at a basic level, handles the data unique to that application good enough. But when a more comprehensive, bigger picture view of the company's data is needed, then the company finds that they have to spend extra time and care to collate each applications data into a single report or single view. Aside from the extensive time to perform this data collation, focused care must be taken to ensure data integration errors are not introduced. In the simplest of examples, take a data field like ORDER_TOTAL. Assume that you wish to combine totals from across multiple systems into a single report view. In doing so, you can easily face the following challenges:
- In the CRM application, there is no predefined field for ORDER_TOTAL. It must be calculated run time.
- In the Finance application, the ORDER_TOTAL field also includes tax (different from the other applications).
- In the ERP application, the field is not called ORDER_TOTAL. It is called O_TOTAL.
It is these kinds of headaches where taking the "easy road out" with workflow applications in point solutions can result in long, exhaustive projects. Rather than build islands of workflow, a single BPM
solution that works in conjunction with the point solutions can best organize your company's data.
A quality BPMS ensures the right people have the right data at the right time and that the point solutions are left to do what they do best; (and leave the BPM work up to the BPM solution). BPM solutions are built to handle heavy transaction loads and lots of user and system interactions. Introducing workflow to your point solutions can present risk to the point solutions and they can start to fail because of the intensity of data requests (as they were never originally designed for high volume usage). Have you extended your point solutions to also include workflow? If you have done this across multiple point solutions, are you facing situations of data chaos?
VP Product Marketing and Management
Title XIII of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), specifically known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), is doing more than just mandating a transition to Electronic Health Records (EHR). It is also expanding the compliancy requirements of HIPAA and introducing the first federally mandated data breach notification requirement.
Under the new HITECH Act, regarding healthcare information privacy and data security, all "business associates" of organizations covered by HIPAA must now adhere to the same requirements. "Business Associates", as defined in the act, refers to service providers such as billing agencies, law firms, accounting firms, and others that provide service and interact with organizations that are directly subject to HIPAA regulations. This means that the same criminal and civil liabilities that apply to pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare providers now apply to associated business entities of these organizations. Prior to HITECH, associated businesses that failed to protect patient privacy, health records, and data security were only liable to HIPAA-covered organizations via service contracts, and never subject to government scrutiny and consequences.
With stricter compliance requirements and major transitional process changes it is more important than ever that companies in the healthcare industry have visible, structured, and secure methodologies for implementing such major changes. As it stands, the ARRA is offering $22 billion in stimulus funding for the advancement of Health Information Technology (HIT). All healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies that fail to demonstrate "meaningful use" of technology will face hefty monetary penalties by 2014. This being said, more and more healthcare companies and healthcare business associates are taking advantage of stimulus funding and turning to Business Process Management (BPM) software to model and improve their current processes and implement new security measures to ensure HIPAA compliance.
Is your company developing new strategies to facilitate a smooth, secure transition to EHR? Can your affiliated service providers' measure up to the increased scrutiny and compliance regulations?
Mary Katherine Strupe
Avoiding unnecessary risks and predicting the future has long been a popular subject in science fiction movies and books. With the ability to see into the future, story book characters made current day decisions that will ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved.
In today's reality, we are required to make educated guesses and tests on how well new endeavors may be executed. Before allocating resources to new company projects, it is a best practice to understand all of the risks associated with the project. In terms of Business Process Improvement, this is where modeling makes the most sense. By utilizing the modeling capabilities of a BPMS, you will have the ability to measure process effectiveness and identify potential process bottlenecks BEFORE investing deeply in making the automated process "live".
Let's revisit a definition of Continuous Process Improvement, in terms of the major phases of a business process:
What if the automated process does not perform the way you wish? What if bottlenecks are introduced into your workplace? What if you find out it is taking twice as long to execute the process tasks now compared to the old "tried and true" manual ways of the past? And what if your automated process does little to save your company costs? Without modeling your process BEFORE automating it, these risks could certainly spring up on you.
Workflow applications only provide the abilities to automate and manage processes, while a BPMS provides for all four phases. The goals of each of these phases are to control the costs of executing the business process, the time spent by process participants to execute their process tasks, and also improve visibility into the process itself. If you are utilizing just a workflow application, then you are literally taking a blind leap of faith, in that you have no way to analyze, test, and model your new business process before it is made "live".
Even if your automated process does happen to control costs, save time, and offer visibility into your processes, you stand to gain even larger return on investments by using all phases of a BPMS over and above the simple workflow application. Each phase of a BPMS provides features and functions which contribute directly to your company's bottom line. Considering the chart below, you can see that a BPMS can potentially triple the effectiveness of your process automation initiative by providing additional time and cost savings over and above simple workflow efforts.
Are you experiencing challenges with your ROI model today because you invested only in workflow? Can you afford to not invest in a BPMS considering the risk you face?
VP Product Marketing and Management