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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Straight Through Processing for real

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Sandy Kemsley had a series of interesting posts from the recent Gartner BPM summit. Two caught my eye especially. This one about a Bill Gassman session and this one about a Janelle Hill one. Both of them made me think about straight through processing or "hands free" or "lights out" or whatever you call it. Bill's session talked about reducing the "latency between events and actions" and emphasized business activity monitoring (BAM) as a solution. Janelle meanwhile implied that a focus on effective processes not just efficient ones meant that the focus in business process management (BPM) was no longer on straight through processing (STP) but on collaboration and softer aspect of processes. Both sessions to me pointed out a basic problem with the definition of straight through processing. If you are using BAM to get actions taken in response to events or just using a BPM tool to automate processes, then you are not doing STP for real.

Real STP means no manual intervention for the vast majority of transactions - say 90-95%. It means automated responses to events that should trigger processes or actions. It means handling these transactions as well if not better than a person would, not simply automating it in a "dumb" way. This means people cannot be required to respond to time-critical events and that processes must have access to sophisticated decision-making so that they don't have to refer something to a person or make dangerously over-simplified assumptions about how customers or transactions should be handled. This kind of real STP requires a focus on decision automation and decision management, not just on event or process management.

Janelle identified six types of process, similar to the three types IDC talk about, and these seem to boil down to event centric, people centric (or unstructured) and transactional. There is a role for decision services in all of them. In event-centric ones, a decision service can ensure that the right process is started or right action is taken. In transactional ones, decision services can increase the rate of STP while also improving the quality of decision making and maintaining agility (as defined by Gartner and discussed by me here). In people-centric processes, decision services can guide and direct, refer and route according to complex rules and analytics. Indeed this kind of automated decisioning is at the heart of many kinds of solutions and neglecting it while consider BAM or BPM is a bad idea.

[Sorry for the pause in blogging, back now]

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James Taylor blogs about decision-management technologies such as predictive analytics and business rules, discussing how they deliver agility, improve business processes and bring intelligent automation to SOA.

James Taylor

James Taylor blogs on decision management for ebizQ, and is an independent consultant on decision management, predictive analytics, business rules, and related topics.

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