Last week-end we implemented an innovative and visionary process-based solution for one of our customers. The reasons why this implementation is so interesting are:
– From a Business perspective, the solution implements the ‘digital organization’, allowing the customer to work with paperless core processes (NWOW)
– From a Technical perspective the solution is an integration of different technologies:
- The B2B portal (in-house development),
- Dynamics CRM (for customer data and the commercial processes),
- SharePoint workflow (implemented with SpikesTogether) and
- The back-office application (in-house development)
– It is about 3 end-to-end core business processes of the customer. This means that the heart of the organization is now supported by workflow and can display total process transparency to their customers using SpikesTogether
– Through the B2B portal, the end-customer participates actively in the process.
The digital organization: paperless core processes
All communication in the process is now structured and automated by the workflows. As soon as one person has completed a task (i.e. an activity in the process), the following role in the process is notified automatically. All participants in the process share the same data (in the back-end application) and the same documents (in SharePoint).
Every participant in the process has a task list in which the tasks for all processes are integrated. The users can execute their tasks in the process from every location from which they have access. This is a pre-requisite for implementing the New World of Work (NWOW).
Integration of different technologies
The solution is also innovative because it integrates existing and new systems.
The integration goes like this:
1) The Customer creates a request on the Portal.
2) The data of the request from he portal is stored in Dynamics CRM or in the back-end application, depending on the status of the process: as long as the process is still in the ‘commercial phase’, Dynamics CRM is in the lead. As soon as the execution of the assignment can start, the back-end application takes over.
3) The request of the customer triggers a process. The process is managed by a series of workflows in SharePoint. The workflows are defined and deployed with SpikesTogether.
4) SpikesTogether keeps track of the state of all processes (based on the workflows in SharePoint). Whenever an activity in a process needs to be executed, a corresponding task is put on the task list of one or more users.
5) Each task has a task form from which the user has direct access to the application with which the task can be executed. In case of complex tasks, a checklist helps the user to keep track of the actions he already executed.
What is really innovative is that on one hand the transactional part of the application is ‘process state agnostic’ and on the other hand the workflow part knows nothing about the application data. And yet, both work together in harmony.
SpikesTogether: end-to-end core business processes
This is not the implementation of just another workflow. By combining a series of workflows, a complete end-to-end business process is supported. The workflows are based on the process model of the customer that was documented in the months prior to the development and the go-live. By doing so, the users now recognize in the workflows (and therefore in their task lists) the process activities that they had defined in the process model.
The end-customer participates actively in the process
In this implementation the end-customer is an active participant (‘actor’) in the workflow. Not only is the process triggered by the end-customer, but also in later steps of the process the end-customer is triggered to approve a proposal or to give additional input. As is the case for internal users, the end-customer can follow up his activities by using his task list on the portal.
This is not evident. It requires a great deal of confidence in the organization to expose their processes in this way to the outside world.
Something about the project
It takes Vision and courage to come to a result like this one. Vision to put the business process definition at the basis of every IT development, and courage to convince both users and IT-staff to leave behind their conventional thinking about applications and adopt a radically new approach.
The whole solution was designed and developed in just 9 months (hmmm?). Dynamics CRM and SpikesTogether workflow were introduced half way (5 months before go live!).
This was only possible because of the smart combination of new development and existing components.
This implementation is required to introduce the New World of Work (NWOW) in the organization: only paperless business processes allow for distance working, any time, any place.
Next in the pipeline is the introduction of Process Intelligence to use the process performance data to improve the processes.