Browse Prior Art Database

Distributed Process Improvement Input

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000183113D
Original Publication Date: 2009-May-15
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-May-15
Document File: 2 page(s) / 29K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is an extension of business process middleware such that at each workstep the worker is either queried, or can volunteer to give input on the business process. The worker's input regarding a workstep can be captured, associated with the business process workstep, and with the data or variables in that business process instance, and associated context, data, or key performance indicators. This information can be correlated with monitoring information on that business process instance, or the process as a whole, and the results used to improve the business processs. Examples of monitoring information include time to execute each job step, the average time to execute each job step, the length of time to execute the entire process or other key performance indicators.

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Distributed Process Improvement Input

It's long been recognized that workers participating in a business process are a prime source of knowledge for potential process improvement. The well known idea of "quality circles" was a way that the collective knowledge of workers could be tapped to improve quality in manufacturing processes. These were typically held after hours on separate time from the manufacturing process itself.

Current business process design methodology does not support feedback from the workers using the process in an organized way. Current best practices involve a business analyst designing the process using a modeling tool, based on a variety of ad hoc input and then studying the resultant model through simulation. An example of such a modeling tool is IBM WebSphere Business Modeler. The resultant model can then be copied to a process development tool such as IBM WebSphere Integration Developer.

What is needed is a programmatic methodology for soliciting and receiving input from workers for process improvement.

Business process middleware such as IBM WebSphere Process Server provides a platform for executing a workflow consisting of both programmatic steps and human interactions. The functionality for support of human interactions includes worklists, and portlets for workers to query such lists, choose work and accomplish it. The productivity gained by such middleware is that the process developer does not explicitly have to program the work queues/lists, etc, as such function is provided as part of the process middleware.

Disclosed is an extension of business process middleware such that at each work-step the worker is either queried, or can volunteer to give input on the business process. The worker's input can be captured, and associated with the business process instance on which the worker is working, with the data or variables in that business process instance, and associated context, data, or key performance indicators. This information can be correlated with monitoring information on that business process instance, or the process as a whole, such as the time to execute each job step, the average time to execute each

job step, the length of time to execute the entire process or other key performance

indicators.

Example: Workflow for entering travel expense accounts, review, approvals and audit. One step in the workflow requires the employee to enter expense information. The input of foreign currency is complex, wastes time and is hard to use. Employees frequently make mistakes which they find hard to correct. If this workflow is executing on a process server, embodying the disclosed invention, the employees may have a...