Workflow

A key component in automating a business process is representing the movement of information within the organization — the workflow. e.POWER provides a tool that renders this information graphically and allows someone familiar with the process to draw it using drag-and-drop tools. This visual representation of the process is an important communications tool and is very important for process improvement. In many cases, simply seeing the process in this way for the first time has led customers to eliminating redundant operations.

The impact of this visualization and the subtleties of its representation cannot be overstated. A number of our competitors have adopted a standard notation known as the Business Processing Modeling Notation (BPMN). BPMN is a useful tool for documenting business processes, and was designed to dovetail with the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL). But BPEL was designed for web services choreography, not BPM, and although there are similarities in what they are trying to accomplish, there are differences. The simplest way to explain it is that BPEL and BPMN were designed with IT specialists in mind and use real estate in a way that is descriptive to them, but wasteful to non-technicians or business people — the main target of process improvement.

In the past, many e.POWER customers’ first graphical view of their process was provided by e.POWER, but today, many organizations use Visio for process documentation. The resulting documentation is quite beneficial, but the customer needs to understand that documentation of a process has a different purpose than effective automation. Documentation often gets into details relating to the work performed by individuals in the process that are important for doing the work but not to implementing the process flow. In e.POWER we find it more effective to capture the “doing” part in the application rather than the workflow. e.POWER workflow has a provision for performer notes that capture the work details, but they are not represented in the workflow map. Although work details are important to getting work done, large numbers of these details make it difficult to see the high-level perspective needed to drive process improvement.