Better Processes Start With Better Measurement - InformationWeek

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6/18/2004
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Better Processes Start With Better Measurement

Real-time performance management tools let you truly optimize BPM results.

Real-time performance management, sometimes called business activity monitoring, is now a key feature of business process management software. In fact, as standards commoditize process automation and integration tools, performance management could become the main differentiator of BPM software.

Performance-management software extends beyond BPM. It has become a critical component of business intelligence, ERP and other data-centric applications, and some vendors are even creating stand-alone performance-management solutions. Without discounting the value of such software, organizations taking a process-centric view of their operations are advised to look for performance-management tools that optimize process automation in real time. The easiest way to accomplish that is via the performance-management capabilities built into BPM software.

In that context, performance management is characterized by three features:

  • A graphical dashboard of real-time and historical metrics of interest to line-of-business and process owners. This dashboard integrates process data with external business data and offers much more insight than the technical indicators monitored by system administrators. Instead of just showing that a workflow step has 138 items in queue, for instance, management-oriented dashboards might display the dollar volume of business represented by late or overdue processes.

  • A set of process actions automatically triggered when a single instance or an aggregated process metric deviates from the norm. Actions could include notifying supervisors, raising the priority of delayed items, reassigning tasks to other users or rerouting a process for special handling.

  • A framework for active-process optimization in real time that doesn't require a new version of the process model. Real-time optimization lets a user (or an automated business rule) raise an approval threshold if, say, over-limit requests are creating excessive backlogs in a process.

These capabilities go beyond the familiar process monitoring features of workflow, which typically are limited to deadline actions on work items and process logs "mined" by an external reporting tool. BPM software can track the time or cost of any process segment, compare it with a goal or range, and trigger actions within the process engine and external systems immediately upon an out-of-range condition.

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