Good Management Takes Planning - InformationWeek

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6/21/2004
03:10 PM
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Good Management Takes Planning

Too often, companies fail to make the tactical decisions needed to ensure a successful deployment of business-process-management software.

Business-process-management initiatives remain a top priority for many companies because of the ability of BPM products to boost operational performance while maximizing the value of existing systems. Businesses across a broad range of industries use BPM products to evaluate and optimize their business processes and ultimately develop and further their competitive advantage.

The true promise of BPM technology lies in its ability to tie together business functions that involve the interaction of multiple people and disparate systems. Examples include functions such as procurement and customer care, and industry applications such as loan origination and claims processing. BPM enhances productivity through coordination and automation of routine tasks, thereby letting employees focus on higher-value activities.

But all too often, companies fail to undertake the tactical planning necessary to ensure a successful deployment. As a result, they confront a wide range of deployment challenges. Among the most common:

  • Applications are perceived as too difficult to use, or they remain inaccessible to the majority of line-of-business users, so business-process-optimization initiatives never take hold.
  • The system delivers a generic set of capabilities for addressing common problems but fails to provide users with the proper context for deployment, resulting in a mismatch between tools and the environment in which they're deployed.
  • The system misses out on labor-saving shortcuts that could greatly speed deployment, leading to costly and time-consuming customization.
  • The BPM software is aimed at driving process automation without an understanding of the underlying business pains, resulting in a rush to automate without accounting for the scope of the business problems.
  • Each of these scenarios points to a common shortcoming: the failure of companies to adequately plan for BPM deployment and to map the implementation to underlying business needs. Several leading software vendors have recognized this challenge and have started to develop templates that give companies a head start. These so-called horizontal templates, which provide prebuilt components to address common business processes across industries, help streamline the overall BPM design and development effort.

    FileNet Corp. has developed a case-management process template that provides users with a generic set of platform objects and process-design requirements that serve as building blocks for the development of more customized functionality and workflows. FileNet turns to partners with specific expertise to customize process flows and build functionality.

    Fuego Inc. offers packaged templates for more than 60 sets of processes across the financial-services, insurance, manufacturing, and telecommunications industries. The templates include a series of business objects that incorporate rules and placeholders for integration. Packaged-process templates are available for loan origination, claims processing, order management, human resources, accounts payable, and expense management.

    At a higher level, Fuego has identified a series of scenarios that map to common business problems, and it has articulated approaches that correspond to them. Some of the common scenarios include high-risk financial transactions that involve access to information gathered by disparate systems, manually intensive repetitive tasks, customer-facing processes, error-prone processes, and processes requiring complete audit trails.

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