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How to Succeed with Process Automation: The Zen of Automation

How to Succeed with Process Automation: The Zen of Automation



David Read, CTO of Blue Slate Solutions, discusses the value created from “real” process automation and provides actionable insight into how to succeed with your own business process automation ...

David Read, CTO of Blue Slate Solutions, discusses the value created from “real” process automation and provides actionable insight into how to succeed with your own business process automation projects. Dave discusses the various challenges businesses run into, along with Blue Slate’s technique of evaluating which automation technique to apply to different business needs.
Topics discussed will include:
• The benefits of service oriented architecture
• When to automate business rules, workflow or both
• Understanding the importance of work flow structure and organization
• When to leverage industry specific point solutions that leverage pre-built workflows and rules
• The unique value of a rule engine which you might be overlooking today



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    How to Succeed with Process Automation: The Zen of Automation How to Succeed with Process Automation: The Zen of Automation Presentation Transcript

    • How to Succeed with Process Automation: The Zen of Automation Zen: emphasizes enlightenment for the student by the most direct possible means, accepting formal studies and observances only when they form part of such means. dictionary.comMay 11, 2011 © Blue Slate Solutions 2011
    • About Blue Slate Solutions About – Founded in 2000, headquartered in Albany, NY – Operations, strategy, technology and industry experts Services – Specialize in improving and transforming operations through business process transformation and IT integration • 100s of projects that have resulted in scalable, maintainable platforms for growth • 75%+ of Blue Slate projects leverage business rule engines or business process management tools – Technology agnostic and not a reseller – Business rules driven solutions have resulted in ROI upwards of 2000% and 40% improvement in departmental productivity 2 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Agenda• Means change, ends do not• Benefits of a service oriented architecture• Structure and organization of workflow• Structure and organization of business rules• Automating workflow and business rules• Industry-specific point solutions• Extended value of rule engines 3 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Means Change, Ends Do Not 4 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Why Do We Use Computers?• Data Access – Have to define what to store• Repeatability – Have to tell it the process• Computation – Have to encode the logic• Speed – Have to get out of the way 5 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Same Automation Goals, Different Development Tools• Increasing abstraction – 1940s – Programming through wiring – 1950s – Low-level instructions (Machine language) – 1960s – High-level instructions (COBOL) – 1970s – Structured (Fortran/C) – 1980s – Object-oriented (C++/Smalltalk) – 1990s – Event-driven (Visual Basic, Delphi) – 2000s – Engines (Workflow, Rules, Content)• More capability, more complexity, different risks 6 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • What is Programming?• Providing a set of instructions to a computer dictating data, workflow and rules – Supports human intervention at fixed points – Allows decisions in predefined ways – Reads and writes structured and unstructured data1 OPEN 1,8,15,“students”2 PRINT “Student name”3 PRINT “or DONE to end”4 INPUT A$5 IF A$ = “DONE” THEN 86 PRINT #1, A$7 GOTO 28 close 1 7 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Tool Advancement• Move thinking from micro to macro• Reduce fine-grained control• Prefer groups to individuals• Simplify reuse and expect commonality• Focus on goals not means• Still require programming – Integration – Logic – Error handling – Security 8 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Benefits of a Service Oriented Architecture 9 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) • 1970s – Messaging – MQ • 1980s – Client-server – ODBC • 1990s – ORB – CORBA • 2000s – Web services – SOAP, REST Connect systems together to share data and logic 10 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Services are Easy, Syntax is Hard Schauen Sie Kontoinformationen für 39217839 Nom: Jane Doe: Couverture: Bâtiment: 200000 Biens Personnels: 50000 Responsabilité: 100000 Visualizzare il registro delle chiamate per Jane 呼籲2011年2月16日討論加入汽車保險的投資組合。 決定等待一個決定 11 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • XML Represents How<interaction> <request> Visualizzare il registro delle chiamate per Jane </request> <response> 呼籲2011年2月16日討論加入汽車保險的投 資組合。決定等待一個決定 </response></interaction> 12 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Schema Represents What (Syntax, Metadata)<account> <name>Jane Doe</name> <accountnumber>39217839</accountnumber> <type>Homeowners</type> <coverages> <structure unit=“USD”>200000</structure> <property unit=“USD”>50000</property> <liability unit=“USD”>100000</liability> </coverages> <latest_notes_available date=“2011-02-16”/></account> 13 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Canonical• Standardized model for exchanging information – Database schema – Class diagram – XML schema• Provides a contract for system communications• Requires significant, robust and engaged governance• Most challenging component of SOA 14 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Why SOA?• Externalizes business mission and strategy• Provides forum for effective communications• Creates the services plumbing once• Anticipates ands formalizes incremental change• Encourages flexibility and agility (loose coupling)• Promotes interoperability and integration 15 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Structure and Organization of Workflow 16 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Workflow• Processes – Tasks – Decision points – Information People Systems Documents Manual Structured Unstructured Workflow Orchestration Content management Human-centric System-centric Document- centric 17 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Baseline• Current state will involve human-human, human- system and system-system interactions• Often driven by people and movement of documents – Email – Fax – Printout – Handwritten form• Third-party involvement – Customers – Vendors 18 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • What to Document• Goal is to leverage automation• SIPOC is valuable – Suppliers – Inputs – Process – Outputs – Customers• Key points – Manual data • Source – Manual steps and decisions • Knowledge 19 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Signals for Workflow Automation• External system lookups• Reviews and approvals based on risk• Department handoffs• Long-running processes• Missing metrics• Regulatory traceability• Document collation and generation 20 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Structure and Organization of Business Rules 21 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Business Rules• Logic – Computation – Assertion (retraction) – (Decision) 22 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Where Do You Find Business Rules?• Documentation• Regulations• Existing applications – Source code – Document management flows – Configuration files• Interviews with SMEs 23 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • How Do You Document Business Rules?• Decision Table IF Rule 1 Rule 2 Rule 3 Rule 4 Age <16 <17 >=16 >17 State * TN <>TN TN THEN AcceptApp No No Yes Yes• Pseudo code – If applicant.age < 16 or applicant.age < 17 and applicant.homestate = “TN” then accept_app = “no”• Natural Language – If the applicant is under the age of 16, or the applicant’s home state is Tennessee and his or her age is < 17, then the bank cannot accept his or her loan application. 24 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Business Rule Classification • Volatility • Simplicity • Effectivity • Reusability • Ownership • Sensitivity 25 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Signals for Business Rule Automation• Regulatory traceability• Missing metrics• Companywide visibility• Multiple channels• Point-in-time applicability 26 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Automating Workflow and Business Rules 27 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Automation• Trust• Integrate• Encode• Version• Execute• Broaden 28 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Trust• Businesses must trust that their process is being automated with excellent fidelity – Non-technical clarity of definitions is a goal of workflow and rules environments – Audit logging is a feature of most workflow and rules environments• Success must require business oversight and participation• Success must not require business ownership of all workflow and rules “development” 29 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Integrate • Workflow uses Business Rules and Data – Workflow drives the business’ processes – Business rules incorporate the business’ decision and computational logic – Data represents the business’ stored and computed knowledge • Shared vocabulary (canonical) – Simplifies coordination between components – Reduces errors in implementation – E.g. misinterpretation of information 30 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Encode• Features (Human, System, Document)• Proprietary – Product-specific – Domain specific language (DSL)• Standards – XMI – Workflow • BPEL, BPMN – Rules • RuleML, SBVR – Data • SQL• Portability? 31 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Workflow Representation 32 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Business Rule Representations 33 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Version• Workflow definitions, rules, XML schemas and database schemas all represent source code• Goal is agility but if pieces are out of sync system will not work• Must maintain versions and define release processes – Complexity added due to proprietary versioning built into many tools• Make sure to separate versioning from effectivity 34 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Execute• Straight through processing (STP)• Exception processing• Assignments – Individuals – Teams• Status• History• Repeatability – Version – Effective date 35 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Broaden• Automated processes lend themselves to external interaction• Assignments to contact a third party may be augmented by screens or services for direct third party use – Process and data remains consistent – Business still controls touch points – Third party takes on work – productivity and accuracy benefits• Extending assignments within workflows is a powerful feature of these environments 36 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Industry-specific Point Solutions 37 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Common Aspects of Point Solutions• Workflow, rules and data structures prebuilt• Self-contained integration• Limited flexibility – Configure and extend within constraints• Product fit assessment – Industry standards – Commoditization – 80/20 38 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Advantages• Out-of-the-box operation• Requirements largely dictated – Industry best practices – Typical process steps – Common decisions – Standard practices• Updates – Regulatory changes – Bugs – Feature requests 39 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Limitations • Tightly-coupled • Missing general-purpose features • Become one-of-many components • Proprietary schemas (often) • Fine line between configuration and customization • Business demands may promote one-off applications 40 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Extended Value of Rule Engines 41 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Rule Engines Beyond Workflow• Houses and executes logic – What-if scenarios – Versioned lookups• Security – Role transformations and checks – Execution boundaries• Trends – Rule utilization – Rule outcomes 42 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Complex Event Processing (CEP)• Leverages business rule engine capabilities – Respond to changing state• Extensions to support related concepts – E.g. temporal reasoning, aggregation, correlationrule “Freezer Failing for Vehicle"when $n : Number( intValue > 25 ) from accumulate ( $tr : Temp( $veh: vehicleId) over window:time( 10m ), average( $tr.temperatureValue ) )then $veh.alert(“Freezer failing”);end 43 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Closing thoughts• Automation and externalization must be trusted before significant value will be found with these components• Workflow and rules engines realize their maximum potential when leveraged together in an SOA environment• These are development tools that add agility and business visibility to system implementations• No product is a panacea• Training for business analysts and developers is important – Tool use and requirements/design approaches 44 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Your Turn Please participate by submitting your questions Thank you for taking the time to attend this webinar 45 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010
    • Contact Us blueslate.net David Read, CTO Shawn Firehock, Managing Director 518.810.0400 518.810.0378david.read@blueslate.net shawn.firehock@blueslate.net46 © Blue Slate Solutions 2011
    • Smart Approach.Extraordinary Results.[Welcome to Blue Slate.] 47 © Blue Slate Solutions 2010