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To read Part I of this article, click here.

Discovering the missing processes

That is why many consultants warn about getting too far down the automated process discovery path before thinking through the big picture. If you depend too much on technology, you run the risk of making one of two mistakes, or worse, making both. You might:

  • Find a process flow within an existing ERP or email/spreadsheet-driven process set and replicate it even if it is not the best flow
  • Fail to automate an important process flow because it has not been automated already by less sophisticated automation tools such as email, and is therefore not discoverable

Tim Zonca, Director of Product Marketing at Serena, says Serena overcomes this risk by offering a hybrid of process discovery and lean BPM to help users proactively discover processes while achieving a rapid return. Serena recommends manual process discovery through two workshops. After the first, an application -- delivered on demand -- gets deployed. During the second session the user analyzes and improves on the living BPM solution.

T.J. Leavell, business development manager at the Modus21 consultancy, suggests a three-phase process. He says, "We do the first project and the client watches closely; we work together on the second project; then, third, the client is responsible for the project while Modus21 mentors." Modus21 is not wedded to any particular tool nor does it care if a BPM project results from the initial consultation. It has used Pallas Athena Process Miner, Bluespring process discovery software; and other tools. The key according to Leavell is not to "find out what your process flow is like first."

The integrated approach

Of course the usual suspect list of BPM suppliers plays an important role in the process discovery effort. But no BPM supplier pretends that one tool fits all.

For example, Kevin Haugh, VP of Product Management at Metastorm says most often a project begins with a "point of pain" which can leave no time for all the careful planning noted above. Even some of the process experts "might leave out steps because they are so expert." More often than not the experts point out others that are also involved but know only a very limited step in the flow. So where the obvious problem is (the "point of pain") may not be the best place to begin. Of course Haugh can afford to say have it your way because Metastorm offers the suite, freestanding discovery tools, its own consultancy, and relationships with other consultants.


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