BPM'S expanding horizons
The social function in Appian can be extended beyond any particular process, however. A newsfeed provides information on competitors and relevant articles, lists role-based upcoming events and offers a forum in which staff, customers and partners can collaborate. Therefore, individuals who are not part of a particular business process can still comment on issues related to business process, which expands the knowledge resources accessible within and beyond the enterprise.
Moving to mobile
Liquid Controls, a unit of IDEX Corp., manufactures flow meters and accessories for precise liquid measurement in transfer and process control applications. Originally the company used a document-centric workflow software product from BP Logix to manage its documents for regulatory purposes. As BP Logix's product evolved into a sophisticated solution called Process Director, Liquid Controls began using it for a broad range of functions, including tracking processes in accounting, sales, quality assurance, IT and HR.
Many of the processes move through different departments, such as sales, accounting and engineering, in order to be completed. "A typical process we would handle through Process Director would be approval for financial transactions that span multiple systems," says Bruce Lawrence, IT manager at Liquid Controls. "These need to move from desk to desk across widely dispersed geographical areas. Approval for a project in one location might need to come from someone based elsewhere."
Process Director collects information from multiple departments and routes it to each individual for approval, and then to an employee who initiates the system update to close out the process. "We have 60 different processes in Process Director at my site," Lawrence says, "and having all the information in one place gives us good visibility into the status of each one."
Recently, Liquid Controls began using the mobile option to keep the tasks moving along when workflow members are on the road. This first step does not include a mobile app for Process Director, but uses e-mail replies to complete workflow tasks. "Sometimes a project needs approval from an individual who is off site and does not have access to Process Director," Lawrence explains. "The user can now forward the appropriate e-mail to the Process Director server to approve his or her task." The task is then processed within the Process Director server; no direct connection to the server is required. Liquid Controls is also custom designing forms to fit mobile screens so that eventually users will be able to interact directly with workflows from their mobile devices.
Good design is a critical and sometimes underemphasized part of mobile applications, says Scott Menter, VP of business solutions at BP Logix. "For a small form factor, the application looks and acts differently from the way it does on the desktop. We provide controls so that you can specify in a very fine-grained way what you are presenting based on the type of device you're using."
Services for redesigning and optimizing processes for the mobile experience is a large and growing market that is expected to account for $7.6 billion annually by 2015, according to Forrester. Unfortunately, many of today's mobile processes are doomed to failure because of poor design.