Tying in with my theme this quarter of Enterprise Mobility, and adding onto my previous post, Mobile Apps and Rapid Development, here is a quick video overview of a mobile construction safety application that includes not only an iPhone/iPad app, but also encompasses integration with SQL, CRM, Box and SharePoint.
It is a topic in all the conversations on BPM, and one of the most difficult to address. Just what is the ROI on BPM/BPA implementation? This will be a first in a series of posts to address the Return on Investment question, and make the justification process an easy task.
So, to start, let’s get this out of the way right now:
There is no clear, exact, repeatable way to build out an ROI model for a BPM implementation.
Why? The benefits are multi-dimensional and can be dependent on process, number of people involved, the department, the industry and on and on. So, to begin with, let’s address the two types of benefits gleaned from any BPM implementation: Direct and In-direct.
Direct Benefits of BPM:
Improvements in efficiency and productivity
Reduction in rework, errors and process failure (Quality Improvement)
Reduction in required staffing through automation and process tuning
Insight for continuous process improvement and analysis
In-direct Benefits of BPM:
Centralized control and management of all business processes
Simplified and centralized audit capabilities
Greater alignment of IT with business requirements
It is the combination of all these benefits that can help you compile an ROI model focused on your business and the processes you automate. Anything I missed? Thoughts?
In the next post, I will discuss more on ROI, and where to focus out of the gate. Want some other posts on the topic? See below:
“In the age of the customer, everything runs as quickly as customers and markets – and software delivery must keep up.”
A recent Forrester report, “New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications,” discusses how many companies are choosing low-code platforms over traditional hand-coded development platforms due to the speed with which low-code applications can be assembled, deployed and tested. With customer-facing applications at the top of IT priority lists, traditional programming platforms simply cannot keep up with the “short schedules and rapid change cycles” such applications require. The report goes on to discuss the challenges that application and development (AD&D) leaders face when formulating strategies for customer-facing applications, and advantages that low-code platforms provide, including the ability to lower barriers between requirements and delivery, and provide business leaders with a way to test and experiment with new ideas at a low risk and cost.
Want to read it all? You can download the entire report and whitepaper here:
4 Ways the Gears of IT Can Benefit From BPM and Business Apps
The technical landscape in organizations is getting more and more complex every day. So I ask myself over and over: Why are most IT departments not standardizing on Business Process Management/Applications to standardize, automate and track their processes? If you take a look at any technical department, it is usually “Franken-apped”, with tons of different applications used for provisioning of accounts, management of systems, cloud management, and on and on. So how can IT utilize the very systems they seek for their business counterparts for their own good? Here is a list of some compelling BPM/BPA uses within IT:
Auto-provisioning of Cloud Resources – With the cloud in the forefront of every CIO’s mind, managing resources out in the ether can be a challenge. The ability to manage starts, restarts, shutdowns, snapshots and other cloud based resource activities can be time consuming and lack audit and reporting facets. In steps a Business App with a dynamic form as an interface, and powerful workflow with business rules behind it. Below is a screen shot of just such an app we use internally:
Auto-provisioning of Accounts, Groups and Email – New employee on-boarding is now a snap with all IT tasks being initiated by the hiring manager or HR. Requests get routed through a workflow, and painful, repetitive tasks are now automated. User leaving the organization? How about automatically disabling the account and mailbox? Through the use of this function, security standards and business rules can be implemented through an automated process, to ensure compliance, and audit all account management tasks.
Security Process Management (SPM) – The latest network hardware or OS security vulnerability is released, and you need to initiate tasks to over 30 team members to quickly eliminate the “Day 0” threat, and secure your infrastructure. As a manager, you are asked where you are in the process, and what has been completed? Using a BPA to manage and control the process, your dashboard can give you a real-time view into the percentage complete, and any difficulties in completing the tasks can be quickly managed.
Management of Line of Business Applications – One of the biggest challenges in IT today is creating the ability to “span” line of business applications. BPAs can provide a powerful data connectivity layer that can be managed centrally, and without code. Want to auto-create a SharePoint site for a new user, no problem. How about a live feed of Salesforce information into a form to manage help desk tickets? (More info on my previous post: 5 CIO Challenges)
Doing more with less has become the standard for IT, and automation is key to meeting daily requirements. This is just a short list of areas in which IT can leverage BPA/BPM. What are your thoughts?
Personas and Design Interfaces Can Make Or Break Your BPM/BPA Project
One key factor in choosing any Business Process App/Management platform for your organization is the design interface(s). During your research and diligence, one key question to ask:
Who will be designing my workflows, forms, reports and data to build out my applications?
Choose wisely, as this choice can really slow down your progress and is a key factor in the success of these types of projects. There are a ton of choices: Web, Fat Client, Visio, IDE Plugin, and the list goes on and on. I would argue that one size does not fit all in the BPA/BPM space, and that several designers will be required to meet the needs of just about any organization that plans to gain efficiency from a business apps platform. So, let’s take a quick look at some of the personas you will need understand and what to take into consideration when choosing:
The Power User – All departments have them, they are self-proclaimed wizards of the spreadsheet, overlords of the departmental SharePoint site, and get the tech, and all it can do for them. They are typically very knowledgeable about their processes, and have the keen ability to map business needs to basic technology. They are not developers, and really don’t have time to learn a full-blown design UI.
The Business Analyst – The BA truly gets how to map the process to technology, and needs to take it to the next level. Exposing additional features and functionality that may be beyond the level of the Power User is essential, and providing this type of design capability will lead to more efficient processes, and will help to take true advantage of all the features and benefits your platform provides.
The IT Guy/Gal – Some organizations will have heavy IT involvement in all process design, and may partition particular pieces and parts to the IT staff. IT typically needs granular control of data and integration, as theses are typically where they will live in the overall process. Along with that, security, control and all things infrastructure should also be readily available.
The Developer – For the devs in the organization, a seamless integration with their design and development tools will provide faster development, ease of customization, and a quick learning curve. Just about all facets of the engine should be exposed in this interface, to truly provide value and the ability to leverage the platform to its full extent.
So, a single interface will not meet all the requirements above. You cannot meet the required complexities of a developer, and provide a usable interface through a single design experience. One of the key benefits of BPM/BPA today is rapid deployment, and putting designers in all capable user hands is critical to speed of deployment. So how many designers are enough? I would argue at least two, and possibly four depending on your persona breakdown and systems in use. So, below are some great examples from K2:
The Dedicated Web Designer (K2 Designer) – This effective design environment is accessible through your browser, and provides full drag and drop functionality, and is appropriate for the first three personas above in many situations:
SharePoint Specific Designer (K2 for SharePoint) – Focused on meeting the needs of the first three above, but with aSharePoint focused experience, this designer is all drag and drop, and wizard driven for ease of configuration:
The Fat Client, Desktop Designer (K2 Studio) – For maximum horsepower, and a full-featured design experience, typically “Fat” Client desktop apps provide extensive capabilities. Typically reserved for BAs, IT and Devs, these drag and drop interfaces allow “under the hood” access to the entire platform.
Visual Studio/IDE Integrated Designer (K2 for Visual Studio) – For a design experience that allows developers extensive reach into theBPM platform, an integration with an IDE is critical to get projects done quickly.
Presented this overview at SharePoint Saturday in Utah this past weekend. Some good info on how to drive paperless transformation with 3 distinct technical phases: scanning, digital forms and workflow. In the end, tie them all together by Building Your Own Apps (BYOA).