Business Process Management (BPM)

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A swimlane diagram is a type of process flow diagram (also sometimes called a cross-functional diagram) that features divisions or "lanes." Each lane is assigned an actor (which may be an individual, department, division, group, machine, entity, and so on), or even a phase or stage in a process, that is responsible for the activity or work described in the lane.

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More and more organizations are taking advantage of business process management (BPM) solutions. And yet, it is often the case that, after an initial success or two, the growth of BPM within a company stalls.

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An enterprise exists for a purpose, stated in its high-level goals and business model. It also has everyday operations which may or may not serve this purpose. We need a link between the two and this is what Enterprise Architecture is about – the establishment of a link between an organization’s ultimate goals and its day-to-day operations.

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The ownership of business processes is often a bone of contention – with various parties feeling that they should be considered the owner of certain processes and not of other processes. Inability to agree on ownership can lead to turf-wars when there are perceived overlaps, as well as impactful inaction when no clear owner has been identified.

This article analyses the source of ownership conflict, and makes suggestions regarding resolutions to the problem. It considers the issue of ownership, as well as the issue of custodianship.

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In this article, I explain a project completed in the financial services industry. A client asked me to lead a project to redesign a failed sub-process that had resulted in billions of dollars of backed up financial transactions. This particular financial process had a history of failed and abandoned process improvement projects. The pressure was on and, I must confess, I was not entirely sure that The Decision Model would be a good fit.

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I know many of you are still trying to get to grips with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), so apologies in advance for the potential mental exertion and confusion of introducing Business Oriented Architecture (BOA).

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Business Process Modeling is becoming a higher priority for business managers and analysts as there is an increasing emphasis in organizations to document, understand and improve their business processes. Although Business process modeling provides many important benefits to companies and organizations, however, these five are the most critical and high impact.

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As a result of budget constraints and limited resources, many companies, (mine included) look to automating tasks and processes to improve efficiency. And one of the easiest areas to demonstrate immediate improvement is by automating a manual process. While almost any manual process could show results by ‘simply’ being able to move documents and files electronically around the company, there is really a more important underlying requirement.

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As business analysts, we know that a business process model is a crucial technique for transforming a business and redesigning automated business systems. Yet, we struggle with the best way to represent the business rules that guide it. This is not a surprise, but disappointing. Ironically, business rules may be the most important dimension of an enterprise. They are the core of business decisions and actions, whether automated or not. How do we treat them today?

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In a process improvement project, the analysis team needs to model and examine several aspects of the current (AS-IS) value chain under study. The purpose of the analysis is to create a visual diagram of the value chain along with its associated text and metrics and determine if there are possible areas of improvement (e.g., reductions in cost or time). If improvements are identified, the team constructs a modified value chain model (TO-BE) with the improvements and then conducts a gap analysis on how to transition to the new value chain. This article focuses on the analysis of the current value chain by providing a method for structuring the AS-IS and TO-BE process improvement discussion.

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This article provides the business analyst an analogy on how process owners manage value chains by monitoring leading and lagging metrics. The article highlights the need for business analysts to provide process owners with these metrics. These metrics provide indications of positive and negative process and business risks. Examples of the traditional risk response types of accept, avoid, mitigate, transfer, exploit, enhance, and share are provided.

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Last month's column introduced a missing model for business analysts. The Decision Model is a normalized rigorous model for business logic like the Relational Model is for data. "Business logic is simply a set of business rules represented as atomic elements of conditions leading to conclusions. As such, business logic represents business thinking about the way important business decisions are made."

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Businesses cope with manual, repetitive tasks to get the job done. Email, conference calls, and "walking the cubes" are too frequently the process for requesting information, getting approvals, and checking project status. Time and resources are wasted, errors abound, and everyone is less productive.

Automating these everyday business processes is the way to improve productivity and gain efficiency. Traditional Business Process Management (BPM) systems can provide a solution, but the cost and complexity to implement simple processes is often too expensive for many business units.
 

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Systems work is not as hard as you might think. However, we have a tendency in this business to complicate things by changing the vocabulary of systems work and introducing convoluted concepts and techniques, all of which makes it difficult to produce systems in a consistent manner. Consequently, there is a tendency to reinvent the wheel with each systems development project. I believe I owe it to my predecessors and the industry overall to describe basic systems theory, so that people can find the common ground needed to communicate and work. Fortunately, there are only four easy, yet important, concepts to grasp which I will try to define as succinctly as possible.

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Much of the current buzz about SOA has been focussed on the technology (inevitably Web Services) or the importance of reusability. However the real value of SOA is in the improvement to processes and ways of working that reflect the alignment of an organisation with its customers and suppliers.  The approach we favour is one that begins by aligning the business and technical understanding of the concepts of SOA, from both the business process and technical architecture perspective.
 

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