The Relationship of Time to BPM, Part 1: Your Processes Are on the Clock

“Time is the key as to why we implement BPM in the first place.” —Scott Menter

Business processes are generally adapted (or implemented) to help organizations become more organized and purposeful, ideally leading to better outcomes. Even highly structured companies can easily get off track if they then fail to adhere to goals that business process management (BPM) helped them achieve in the first place.

BPM is applied to improve results – results that come from business activities – and to ensure that the right governance and guidelines are in place. These things alone help an organization become better at delivering against its business goals, yet they presume that a business has an unspecified amount of time in which to deliver on these goals.

Time is a critical ingredient within any business process as it enables an organization to gain more control over those processes while creating the ability to predict how later stages in a process will be impacted by earlier actions. This predictive capability changes the entire nature of how we perform those tasks. Early notification leads to early intervention and response, which results in a more comprehensive view of alternative actions, the players that can affect them, and how processes can be changed as a result of changing requirements. This is why BP Logix’ patented business process automation technology, Process Timeline, has become a defining element of our product – and why it provides our customers with a particularly unique view into how processes truly run.

In some corners, workflow is often considered a substitute for BPM. While the association is apt, there is not a one-for-one mapping. Here lies a critical difference in how we think of BPM and how our competitors do. For the most part, other BPM vendors see a timeline as either purely at the methodology level (consideration for a reasonable amount of time for an activity to take place), or as a pre-defined and allotted amount of time (any particular task should take X amount of time). At BP Logix, we are a BPM company that recognizes that while time moves, the amount of time needed to complete, route, authorize or perform any number of actions for a given activity is dependent on other activities in that process and may need to be adjusted as the process evolves.

The more valuable aspect of the timeline is in how reliable a picture it provides of the future. This is where Process Director stands apart and is why our customers can use the predictive capabilities to make smarter decisions and adapt as needed. We created Process Timeline to help customers measure and predict process execution times and build flexible and executable processes. Users can design process according to how they answer two important questions for each step of the process:

  • What must complete before this step can begin?
  • How long will this step take to complete?

We refer to these, respectively, as dependence and duration questions. Each activity will begin as soon as its prerequisites, if any, are completed. The result is a solution with many valuable features:

  1. Modeling is greatly simplified: project owners list each activity, estimate its duration, and then drag-and-drop it onto the activity or activities that must complete before it can begin.
  2. As many of the activities as possible will run at the same time, without the need to explicitly configure parallel behavior.
  3. The status of the process can be determined at a glance.
  4. At any point — even the moment the process is launched — the system can determine which activities, if any, may not complete by their due date.
  5. The system records actual versus predicted execution times each time the process is run, and adjusts its time estimates accordingly.

Organizations look to our patented business process automation software technology, Process Timeline, to help them deliver better results with more addressable solutions. The benefits from Process Timeline include:

  • Faster time-to-value: The simplified model gives businesses the opportunity to go from discovery to full automation faster than was previously possible.
  • Proactive response: The earliest possible notice of potential delays (and the resulting missed deadlines) — even for tasks that haven’t yet begun — means that your business can predict a future problem, adapt to changing circumstances, and succeed in overcoming those obstacles.
  • Improved business process governance and BPM compliance: Every approval, every piece of data entered, and every step of every process is permanently stored by Process Director, and can be made available to internal or external auditors, regulators, or risk management personnel.
  • Rapid changes: Business processes must respond rapidly to changing requirements. Process Director is configured through a simple, intuitive graphical interface, requiring no programming skills. As a result, Process Director makes it possible for your processes to change at the speed of your business.

When a business goal is addressed through a realistic application of governance and execution, the likelihood of success increases dramatically. When a reasonable timeline can help identify potential issues and predict outcomes, the organization can adapt and be flexible in how it handles the situation.