Discovery

Hi there! I hope you enjoyed my previous blogs on BPM and that I have been able to capture your attention, and so…
what?? You crash landed here directly? No worries, please follow the hyperlink above to trail back to parts I and II, before proceeding beyond this point.

But if you have been so considerate, to be able to endure my writing till this point, I will wait no further, and would start from where we left. So you have seen in the last blog how people in our Gummy bears factory are not fully happy. So, in order to alleviate their suffering, lets continue with our first task at hand – Process Discovery. Lets revisit the same story, but this time, with some colored boxes thrown in. Lets see.

Presentation1_1

..ah ha! As you have already guessed, the problems are absolutely obvious. In the Gummy bears factory, the main concerns are:

  1. Manual maintenance of records (the shortfalls are obvious..human error, wastage of human effort, time taking)
  2. Some repetitive decision making that can be automated to easily eliminate what we call “waste steps” in a process, something that we must remove in a quest to making it “leaner”.

So much said, now you can see where this is going. Starting with the understanding of the gloomy present situation (Also called the AS-IS state), We must remove the above problems by drawing a sunny picture of the future, otherwise called the TO-BE state.

Lets try to imagine each actors as personnel at the airport (and by actor we also count whatever automated system we are trying to build, so everything gets counted – the man, the machine, everything). So considering each batch of gummy bears as a customer, loads of people are coming in, first lining up at the baggage scanner, then at the check in counter, then for the security and finally the immigration. each person will move from one counter to the next as soon as his work is done in that counter. This is a concept that is used in BPM as well, with each actor being treated as a queue (also called swim-lanes while modeling the process). Work coming in will be serviced one by one and moved to the next assignment. In order to visualize such a state, we use something called the BPMN, the Business Process Model and Notation. That’s the globally accepted standard way to represent a process. Fear not, it’s simple enough to appeal to the logical sense of a toddler. You can read more about BPMN at http://www.bpmn.org.

So, in the light of above discussion, lets jump into the next task at hand, which is Process modeling and design. Lets see, from a top level, what the above story looks like, from context level.

AS-IS 1 0

Finally, let’s storyboard the same situation in a swim-lane fashion.

AS-IS flow 1 0
Tool courtesy: IBM Blueworkslive (http://www.blueworkslive.com/)

the above picture depicts the story through a combination of horizontal swimlanes, one for each actor, and vertical milestones (logical grouping of tasks). Rectangles represent activities, and diamond shapes represent a decision making.

So, in this installment, we have learnt how to “think the process way” and how to depict the process in a formal manner. In the next installment, we will explore at ways to optimize the above process, using technology as the enabler.

As always, please shower me with your feedbacks – Good, bad and ugly, I would be looking forward to all of them. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Happy learning!

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