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21 January 2014

Four Steps to Continuous Business Process Improvement

This post is also available in: Spanish

Every process has a lifecycle of 4 stages: Modeling, Execution, Monitoring and  Optimization. These 4 stages make up the Lifecycle of the Processes, and naturally generate the company’s Continuous Improvement culture.

This cycle can be automated using the tools provided with a BPM (Business Process Management) Suite.

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1. Modeling

A process is modeled to determine how it should behave on being executed, right down to the smallest detail. Roughly speaking, apart from conducting a preliminary analysis of the process aligned with the strategic plan and business objectives, the Modeling phase entails:

1. Drawing the Diagram of the Class of Process using Objects: Tasks, Events, Gateways, KPIs, etc. A graphical tool is used to draw the diagram, generally following the BPMN (Business Process Management Notation) standard, which proposes a specific syntax that is universally identifiable.

2. Determining how each of the diagram Objects should behave: Personal Tasks (performers, instructions, creation of forms and their divisions, fields, buttons, libraries and documents, chronometry, process rules, conditions, intelligent options, automatic document creation, etc.), System Tasks that perform their functions automatically without human intervention, the behavior of the Gateways, etc.

Here it is important to not confuse the BPMS Modeling with independent BPA (Business Process Analysis) tools. These tools allow Modeling but they are only based on the process presentation, not on the execution. To be able to execute the process a BPMS is required. Thus, a BPMS incorporates its own BPA for Modeling.

3. Carrying out simulations to ensure a correct operation.

There are two types of Simulation:

    • Statistical Simulation where fictitious values are assigned to the process (no. of users, task execution time, resource costs, foreseen volume, etc.) and then it is executed ‘n’ number of times.
    • Real Simulation (also called TESTING). This is based on realistically executing the Process but in a simulation environment. This ensures 100% that what has been modeled is exactly what will be executed.

The Modeling of the Classes of Process is critical to the success of the project and, bearing in mind the alignment with company objectives, it must have the full involvement of the management and take into account the criteria of the entire chain of command and the experience of all involved in the process.

2. Execution

The Execution stage is where the Class of Process that has been Modeled in the previous stage is executed. The execution of the set of processes represents the daily workload of the organization.

The activities performed in the company processes are called Tasks and are classified in two types:

Personal Tasks. Those that are performed through the work of a particular person.

System Tasks. Those that are performed by the system automatically without human intervention, making them instant, cost-free and error-free.

 3. Monitoring

Monitoring is the stage where the results of the Execution are observed, controlled and analyzed.

With BPMS, the activities performed on a day to day basis (processes) provide the information, in real-time, used by the intelligence tools: Dashboard, BI (Business Intelligence), BAM (Business Activity Monitoring), KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), etc. As these tools are included in the BPM Suite itself, the observation, control and analysis of the facts and data are also automated.

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This way, BPMS timely offers every user their personalized information, as well as automating the Observation, Control and Analysis of the facts and data generated in the organization.

4. Optimization

Any necessary changes to be made to the processes to optimize their performance and efficiency are determined from the results of the Monitoring stage. These changes can affect the Business Rules or the Classes of Process directly.

– If the optimization affects the Business Rules, as they are independent from the processes the values need only to be modified directly in the Business Rule repository and they will be instantly applied to all the objects of all the Classes of Process where they apply.

– If the optimization affects the Classes of Process, these changes are made in the Modeling stage. It is possible to modify the Diagram, the Objects (performers, forms, calendars, times, conditions, etc.), the Business Rules, the Chronometry, etc.

Then the necessary Simulations are performed before publishing a new Version of the Class of Process.

All this is performed without affecting in the slightest the day-to-day work of the process users.