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New Post 4/15/2012 9:57 PM
User is offline stevens465
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Workflow management systems 

Hi everyone,

New poster here. I recently landed a job as a BA at a large university, and I'm new to the field but I have background in IT systems administration. I'm being put on a new project and would appreciate some advice. I need to research and discover workflow maangement systems that allow my organization to design and manage workflows. One such product I'm aware of is Sungard (banner) Workflow, which allows users to move information or forms along a path to achieve a desired goal.

Some basic requirements (we're very early in the process, so requirements are scarce):

1. The product would need to world with Java, web services, and oracle/sql in order to communicate with our existing systems.

2. Example of a simple use case: Workflows can be designed to interact with workers/approvers to automatically/manually move forward a process. For example, user1 submits document via web, user2 approves and adds document, and finally it is finished. The software should be able to keep track of the processes for everyone, so workers can keep track of the work and other users such as submitters/managers can see how the process is going. Processes also need to interact with our oracle/sql dbs and cold fusion envrionment.

Does anyone know of other popular products? Also, in what way would you present the findings? Have a matrix to show all the business/functional/technical requirements, and how well each product fit our needs? What other artifacts can I consider?

Thanks a lot in advance!

 
New Post 5/26/2012 12:11 AM
User is offline M Prasad - http://mprasad.com
5 posts
10th Level Poster


Re: Workflow management systems 

 Hi,

Many products offer powerful tools to design and implement the workflow of an organization, and decision makers of COTS (Commercial Off-The- Shelf) package systems should be guided by Business Analyst through data, requirements, analysis of those requirements considering many facts including expertise in the organization to implement any proposed COTS system, whether the COTS costs in within the budget, ease of maintaining and controlling, speed of implementation, etc...

Some of powerful products are TIBCO iProcess, Pega systems, SAP BPMS system, and on cloud Sales force BPM product.

Good luck.


Kind regards, M Prasad - www.mprasad.com
 
New Post 5/30/2012 11:36 AM
User is offline Sandy
74 posts
8th Level Poster




Re: Workflow management systems 

Hi Prasad,

The first step is to make sure you have a clear scope for your solution - is it strictly workflow management, or do you need document management capabilities as well?  The next step is to collect, document, and prioritize your requirements accordingly.  Prioritization is important, because that will be essential later on when your organization is evaluating alternative products. 

A matrix is a good way to present the requirements for comparison purposes - but you need clear requirements first.  There is a lot of variety in workflow solutions, and one of the differentiators is the complexity of workflows that need to be managed.  How many different types of workflow do you need to manage?  How many workflow steps typically fall into each workflow type or stream?  You've mentioned one that is fairly simply - submit, review, approve, fulfill.  It will probably help if you identify the processes involved, and model the workflows within each.  How many decision points exist?  Are there parallel paths within any workflow?

Once you have your workflows modeled, you can define the associated functionality to manage them.  Is it just workflow routing that you need?  Or do you need to monitor and balance task allocations (to keep workload balanced across resources)?  Do you need to build models of new workflows or changes to workflows, and then analyze impacts of those changes on resources and efficiency, before implementing them? 

As M. Prasad noted, it's important to consider non-functional requirements for performance, supportability, and cost - as well as the ones you've noted about technology and connectivity to existing systems.  The number of users and/or locations can be a big factor in licensing costs - so make sure you have accurate user counts. 

Once you have all this information put together, then you can start mapping to available products.  A matrix works fine for this purpose.  You can conduct your own research (environmental scan) of products that are out there and perhaps contact other universities to see which products are used in similar organizations for similar purposes.  A next step might be to use your university's procurement processes to issue a Request For Interest (RFI), where you publish your requirements and vendors can respond with their proposed products.  There are different procedures for selection and purchase, but that is probably a different forum post... :)

Sandy

 
New Post 6/1/2012 8:59 AM
User is offline M Prasad - http://mprasad.com
5 posts
10th Level Poster


Re: Workflow management systems 

 Hi Sandy,

 You made a good point; however, my perspective was to answer on Workflow management systems, which is a completely different topic to Process solution. If expected answer is towards how to approach for process solution it will be a completely new and exciting topic to me. It can be discussed for days, however, in nutshell (just like tip of iceberg), if one adopts the key elements of BMM model, Requirements gathering and analysis combined with organization chosen process methodology one can define a process model.

 


Kind regards, M Prasad - www.mprasad.com
 
New Post 6/1/2012 10:24 AM
User is offline Sandy
74 posts
8th Level Poster




Re: Workflow management systems 

Sorry Prasad - I had meant to address my reply to stevens465!  I think your comments gave a great starting point, and I was intending to offer suggestions to the original post as a way to make sure that any chosen solution was the best match to the business needs.

You are very correct in that there is a difference between workflow management products vs. business process management products - but the variety in products and product capabilities is not always immediately visible to people researching these tools for the first time.  My suggestion to stevens465 was simply to clearly define the business needs before evaluating the available products.

Sandy 

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