Integration and usability raise the bar for BPM
Micro Strategies is a systems integrator and an Alfresco strategic partner that provides business solutions and services. “Our customers have the vision now about what BPM can do, especially when they unite document management and BPM,” says Adam Storch, VP of business solutions at Micro Strategies. “Many applications now transcend departments, which means that the process solution needs to bring together the documents and data from multiple departments and sources. And at this point, no company has just one problem to solve. There are multiple problems that need to be solved.” Content is important but in the last year, Storch has seen much greater interest in process. “Financial services companies do not make money with and for their clients until the client is on-boarded and the process is complete,” Storch explains.
Usability has consistently been the compelling aspect of Alfresco’s BPM solution. “We did one demo for a large investment bank,” Storch says, “and while one Micro Strategies professional was installing Alfresco Activiti, another was designing the forms and workflow for trade reconciliations.” With the workflow being built in hours instead of days, the technical team and business analysts were able to quickly pull users in to review. That review allowed them to think through the process further and identify key changes. Micro Strategies quickly made the changes and demonstrated the new workflow to the users. “When the CIO saw how easy it was to quickly create and implement the workflow, he immediately approved the solution for the project,” Storch says.
Because Alfresco Activiti allows the reuse of actions that can be put into a workflow, such as client lookup, a greater degree of effort can be put into developing processes at a higher level, such as complex conditional processes. “A more sophisticated action, for example, might be for the BPM system to bring data in from other systems, triggering a rule that would set off a sub-process,” explains Storch. “That process might then interact with the CRM system, pull some case data and then select and execute another sub-process and update the CRM system about what has happened.” In the past, BPM systems could accomplish that, but it would take time and resources. Activiti’s flexibility allows organizations to be more agile and bring the development closer to the users.
The customer experience is process-intensive and benefits from the integrative capabilities of BPM solutions. A large retailer that serves England, Scotland and Wales wanted to improve its customer experience by offering a digital purchasing experience to its customers. System integrator Incessant Technologies, a subsidiary of NIIT Technologies (niit-tech.com), used Appian’s BPM platform to develop a consistent, automated digitized experience across many different services offered by the retailer, from ordering floor coverings to custom-made window treatments.
In addition, all customer and invoicing data was made accessible by conversion from paper to an electronic format. “There is a close relationship between process and data,” says Mark Johnson, VP sales, North America, for Incessant. “Data from all customer touchpoints is now integrated, which provides greater insights for the retailer to further improve the customer experience.”
Administrative processes can set back commerce if they are not carried out efficiently. A government agency in Australia saw an 80 percent improvement in overall process improvement by deploying an automated process for issuing mining permits. “These cycles went from 22 months to less than 6 months,” says Y.S. Khan, associate director for technology at Incessant. “We helped the agency develop paperless transactions for 72 resource permit transactions, which provided transparency into the process throughout the lifecycle.”
Appian has an app market that actively engages partners and developers. “We contributed an app, Digital Business Operation Suite (digiBOS), for employee onboarding,” says Khan. “The app, which is described on the Appian App Market site, manages the onboarding process and then sends out a Tweet to announce the hiring to whatever audience the company defines.”
BPM retains its value in improving efficiency but has extended its reach to have a more enterprisewide, strategic role. “The industry is moving from process optimization to decisioning optimization,” Khan says, “and that is where process and data really come together.”