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BPM helps streamline R&D at Shepherd Color Company

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Shepherd Color Company used to send work orders via paper forms or emails to its pilot plant to test concepts for new chemical compounds. While paper and email were simple to use, the manual process made the company vulnerable to losing track of work orders.

Communication between chemists and project managers across different departments meant people were asking for various types of work, and in different buildings.

Shepherd implemented the IBM Coach Framework—part of the IBM Business Process Manager suite—to customize a BPM solution that would automate managing R&D projects. The BPM technology created one place for managers to see the pilot plant’s work orders, but chemists found it challenging to call up screens so they could check orders. Also, workers sometimes had to wait minutes for pages to load.

Consequently, Shepherd enlisted the help of BP3 Global and its BP3 Brazos UI Toolkit. The toolkit customized the IBM BPM experience with an interface for each user’s browser or mobile device, including elements like radio buttons and calendars.

Rick Boonstra, business system and user experience leader for Shepherd, says, “The Brazos UI has helped us ‘reskin’ all our users’ screens to be interactive within a BPM application. The toolkit also saves us time and effort in writing customizations and customer CSS code to clean up the look and feel of an IBM Coach. Some folks at Shepherd are not accustomed to workflow software, and Brazos UI helps us get people over that hump.”

If Shepherd’s BPM team were developing a BPM app from scratch, the first release might take a minimum of three months to complete. But with Brazos UI, Boonstra says, he can shorten that timeframe by, perhaps, a couple of weeks.

“Brazos UI is about easy reuse,” he adds. “In practical terms, it means BP3 has premade data elements we can drop in on any IBM Coach, so we can quickly populate a page with data. It eliminates the possibility that future BPM projects will fail.”

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