WF/process, wherever you look – part I
What is the process, how the process, how the process is done
This article is the first of a series of articles dedicated to the processes automation, possible integration and data analysis. Everything is quite closely related together, and it would be good to take all this related objects in that way. Thus, they will gradually addressing issues such as process mapping and modeling, tools for this modeling, transferring already finished models and diagrams into company intranets based on SharePoint Server, or System Center Orchestrator (with the help of my colleague Jan Marek, Microsoft MVP). There will also be discussed methods for data entry using Microsoft Office InfoPath and for the last there will be discussed predictive learning with Machine Learning, data analysis, both standard and big data and streaming (Stream Analytics).
What processes are
At the beginning, I should explain the processes themselves. Everyone talking about them nowadays, each of them reportedly knows many things about it, but when it comes to “breaking of bread”, a lot of people groping. Not only that they don’t have processes in their firms established (and often it is definitely not only in a small companies), but not often know how to handle these processes and that they need much more than one man, who once had one class of process modeling on high school.
I know that the processes at first glance do not relate to Microsoft products. In this article there are not images of operator menu of Microsoft Azure on the first page, but this must be taken as part of the necessary introduction that aims to clarify the basic concepts that will be used and more deeply described in the following parts.
The process, according to EN ISO 9000: 2000, is defined as “a set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs”
According to Hammer, the process is “a set of activities that requires one or more inputs to provide output, which has a value for the customer”
In summary it is a group of activities to bind and is often conditioned by many inputs from both human, or other sources, the rule is, that each process must have an input and an output. Of course, the process is repeatable, it’s not that they took place only once and never repeated. Processes can be divided into several different categories.
- Main Processes – main processes are relate to strategic parts of the business, i.e. those whose output is the value that satisfies the customer, i.e. those that serve to fulfill the strategic goals of the company.
- Supporting processes – these processes are complementary to the first group, their goal is to make the main and distinct process complemented by various secondary processes.
- Management processes are mostly through the whole company. These processes governing the different activities so as to maintain consistency and logic performed by other processes.
- According to repeatability
- repeatable processes – the procedure can be repeated several times, the same inputs created equal output (such as serial production)
- Unique processes – a procedure usually repeat once, never approach the next repetition identical (e.g., project creation of IS / ICT)
- According to the purpose of the process
- the value creating processes – manufacturing processes, where the purpose is to manufacture the product, or the provision of services (for example, order execution, or the development and deployment of software components, etc.).
- the logistics – end material support value-creating processes, for example, purchase of materials, preparation of production, distribution and more.
- Informational and coordination
- According to possibility of description of the process
- clearly structured
- weakly structured
- According to the process boundaries
- the Internal
- According to the industry reference model
- the capture process reference model in the industry
- the processes in a particular company
- Based on the level of process control
- ad hoc on managing the process
- on defining the level of process control
- on the management level
- the optimized level
The process always has a purpose (why it exists) bound to the target and output / product. The individual activities then mostly arise as remarks / information / metadata. The process always has an input and an output.
Now a few more definitions:
- The process is a response to an external event.
- The activity is an essential element of the process. Processes inputs to outputs. May be complex or primitive.
- Event = external stimulus process / activity. Represents any customer requirement / actor in the process, such as “The arrival of the customer’s order.“
- Status = result of activity in the system, such as “Invoice checked“.
Processes should be named so that it is clear to recognize their initial and final state, such as “Manufacture from materials to ensure expedition” or “product development from concept to prototype.”
There are many graphical notations according to different methodologies. You can choose between BPMN, or others. In this article, I chose the standard view, which is named Microsoft Office Basic Flowchart.
The activity defines any operation, and processes inputs to outputs. Terms are defined in the decision-making activity, which is the output of one, two, or three of the options. Start-End symbols marks the start or end of a process or sub-process. The document is marking the entry of the document, or output to a document, i.e. the document may be required and necessary outcome in any part of the process of an activity. Conversely, it can also be influencing element for the continuation of the process to the next level. Data are general representations of data inputs to copy other information systems, or databases, but also a representation of data input from the keyboard for example, a human source.
The process is generally more appropriate to say that it is always a priority relative to other processes and that this measure. How do you measure? It is necessary to determine the data relevant to the proceedings, mainly static variables, such as:
- The duration of each activity (and thus the entire process).
- The waiting time for processing input.
- Number of inputs / outputs for a given period.
- The amount of resources involved in processing.
- Capacity utilization of funds during the period.
It is also appropriate to mention that every process should have a description, i.e. there should be a table with basic information about the process, such as what is the goal of the process, what is its purpose, who is the owner, what are the metrics and more. Such a description can be seen in the following figure, but it is important to note that this is not a dogma, every company should be possible to modify the description.
Since it is often required that the individual processes were drawn and generally developed according to individual roles in society, it is advisable to directly designed according to these roles. This is done even slight modification of the entire sketch and that is divided into “Pool”, a kind of tracks for each role much like for swimmers in the pool. Thus, the process then alternate between the tracks so that the actions, decisions, and other elements always occurred in the path/pool of the respective roles.
Process is always appropriate to define, since they come to light much more information, such as descriptions of individual roles, their responsibilities, continuity roles in society- that is, who passes what to whom, who did what to expect and more. Process modeling, on the one hand, it is no easy task, but on the other hand will help with most activities postponed for a long time and clearly defined these. Always apply one basic rule that would be the beginning of a new process for modeling effort should not exaggerate and level of detail. The process should occur peacefully in the basic version and then should be gradually develop, improve, evaluate. Should be measured and thus become progressively more effective.
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you at the next part of this series.
In conclusion there are demonstrations in various software processes and notations for an overview: