BPM Features Important to a Process Owner

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Are you a Process Manager/Operations Manager? Are you looking for BPM software that lets you depict your process visually and also allows you to modify the process in real time without any coding effort? To take full control and ownership of your business process look for this list of features from your BPM software.

Process Modeler

An important component of most BPM suites, the modeler is used to depict a process pictorially by defining activities, controls and system flow. Check for the following.

  • Can you model the process by modifying the process visually (adding activities, controls, flows) and deploying the modified process or is coding needed to actually implement the new process?
  • Does it allow you to visually depict repetitive activities? Can you define the business rule when the activity should stop repeating?
  • Can multiple activities JOIN and become one activity? Can you define the business rules used to create a join?
  • Can a single activity FORK and spawn multiple activities? Can you define the business rules used to create a Fork?
  • Can you add/delete/modify activity values? These values determine activity behavior and could be external (based on another activity/another process) or could be internal (based on data entered during the activity/ data created while processing). Is there a visual interface for you to do so?
  • Can an activity be associated equally easily with an input screen as with a background/batch process? Is there an intuitive interface to define this?
  • Can you create sub-processes to make process visualization and orchestration easier?
  • Can you simulate the effect of a process change?
  • Are e-mail notifications supported when moving from one activity to another? Is there an interface to define the variables, text, users receiving the email and the event triggering it?

Screen Design and Validation

  • Does the product support user defined screens for entering/modifying data?
  • Can this screen be associated with any activity? Can you specify on screen validation through a rules engine/interface?
  • For screens requiring more processing than simple data entry and associated (Add/Edit/Delete) capability, is there a simple interface to invoke an external process?
  • Can you pass on-screen values and get back results – either on screen or to another activity without coding?

Business Rules Configurability

  • Are all business rules used to route the flow within a process, clearly visible in the process modeler? Can these rules be extracted?
  • Within the process modeler, can you modify business rules? Is there an easy to use interface to create/modify rules?Is it easy to define, map and extract either screen values and/or process variables tied to a particular activity? Can these values/variables be used to formulate business rules? Can variables from the organizational chart be used to decide on activity routing?
  • Can the process modeler interface with an external business rules engine?

Users and access rights

  • Can you model your organizational chart, locations, business units, departments and user groups within?
  • Can the model above be used to allocate user rights for each process and activity within each process?
  • With security and compliance becoming key issues, is the level of granularity as desired? The lowest level would be a particular employee for a particular activity. Can this be defined during process routing?
  • Can you produce a report detailing process and activity rights based on current configuration? This would be an important compliance document.

Integration

  • Can you integrate with external data sources? Can the integration be done with no programming effort through configuration screens? Can these data sources be used to o Validate input screen values o Import data into a screen associated with an activity through an intuitive mapping tool.o Import data into a batch process associated with an activity.
  • Can you integrate with external web services without any programming through configuration screens? Can you configure what data will be passed as web service parameters and received as a result of service execution?
  • Can you export data from an activity (either screen based or internal system process) in any format desired? Is there an intuitive interface to select data to be exported, the order and format desired? Common formats include excel, comma delimited and fixed width.

Viveka Sinha is a Project Manager implementing BPM solutions in a Fortune 500 company. She was earlier the architect/product manager for "Enj" a pureplay BPM.

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