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Simulation and Prototyping decreases costs of Business Process Automation
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Simulation and Prototyping decreases costs of Business Process Automation
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The process of automation involves some risks that may complicate the delivery of the end product, increase the implementation costs and disappoint the end users. The most important risks affecting the end product are a) The risk related to the improper Requirements Specification and b) The risk related to improper understanding of the Scope. There is, however, efficient way to minimize or avoid mentioned risks and improve the quality of the end product, to decrease the cost of the implementation and assure delivery on-time and in budget.

Automation of Business Processes is an important part of the Business Process Management domain. Its objective is to deliver a software solution that partially or fully automates the Business Process. It is nearly a standard in IT these days that the automation of the Business Process is provided via its implementation within BPM Frameworks. These frameworks are built mostly on principles of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) so that the framework provides the capabilities of service design, implementation and process orchestration. The process of automation involves some risks that may complicate the delivery of the end product, increase the implementation costs and disappoint the end users. The most important risks affecting the end product are as follows:

  • The risk related to the improper Requirements Specification – this means the Requirement to automate the specific Business Process does not make sense money wise – simply it is not worth to automate the Business Process;
  • The risk related to improper understanding of the Scope – that is the Requirements Specification does not fully express expected functionality by the end-users and/or is not the described in enough detailed manner;

There is, however, efficient way to minimize or avoid mentioned risks and improve the quality of the end product, to decrease the cost of the implementation and assure delivery on-time and in budget. The solution is described below.


The Improper Requirements Specification
When specifying the scope of the Business Process automation it should be mandatory to focus on the added value of the automation with emphasis on the automation costs. The effective approach is to automate the “happy-path” flow of the Business Process and not to automate the Exception handling. The risk of the wrong automation scope is easily eliminated via Business Process simulation. First, the current state of the Business Process is modeled and simulated based on the measured historical data. The second step is to propose the changed Business Process and repeat the simulation. The difference will show the “Business case” – if it is even worth to automate the Business Process with expected costs. The simulation shows potential savings in time and FTEs within the Business Process projected that is the base of the Business Case for the automation.


The Improper scope understanding
It is very often the case that after the analysis, design and implementation the End-Users –having tested the delivery – respond with “we expected something else”. This happens mainly due to following facts:

  1. Business defines the Requirements isolated without IT,
  2. IT receives Requirements from Business, however, models, designs and implements the solution without Business, and
  3. Business receives the end product for testing back to Business without previous interaction.

The risk of both sides dissatisfaction is in the above scenario very high. It is possible to minimize this risk successfully when Business and IT together, based on modeled Business Process, create prototype of the solution. The prototype is represented by Implemented Business Process on the level of Human activities (ScreenFlows) with defined User Interfaces in detailed manner, basic business logic and the complete Business Process flow mapped on the user Roles. When Business approves the prototype the complete and verified Requirements Specification exists and IT has got all information needed for the Object Model, Implementation of services and integration requirements to back/end systems.

Simulation and prototyping prolongs the phase of Business Analysis and Requirements Specification (the specification is submitted by Business after approving prototype), however, on the other hand, the implementation is straightforward without complications with User Acceptance and change requests due to improper scope understanding.
In similar projects where simulation and prototyping were not included the implementation exceeded the planned duration by 50% or 75% due to problems of End users to accept the functionality and the solution as whole.
The example clearly shows that the total costs of the process automation are lower when supported by Business Process simulation and Solution Prototyping.

 

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