Wednesday Apr 07, 2010

The softer side of BPM


BPM and RTD are great complementary technologies that together provide a much higher benefit than each of them separately. BPM covers the need for automating processes, making sure that there is uniformity, that rules and regulations are complied with and that the process runs smoothly and quickly processes the units flowing through it.

By nature, this automation and unification can lead to a stricter, less flexible process. To avoid this problem it is common to encounter process definition that include multiple conditional branches and human input to help direct processing in the direction that best applies to the current situation. This is where RTD comes into play. The selection of branches and conditions and the optimization of decisions is better left in the hands of a system that can measure the results of its decisions in a closed loop fashion and make decisions based on the empirical knowledge accumulated through observing the running of the process.

When designing a business process there are key places in which it may be beneficial to introduce RTD decisions. These are:

  • Thresholds - whenever a threshold is used to determine the processing of a unit, there may be an opportunity to make the threshold "softer" by introducing an RTD decision based on predicted results. For example an insurance company process may have a total claim threshold to initiate an investigation. Instead of having that threshold, RTD could be used to help determine what claims to investigate based on the likelihood they are fraudulent, cost of investigation and effect on processing time.
  • Human decisions - sometimes a process will let the human participants make decisions of flow. For example, a call center process may leave the escalation decision to the agent. While this has flexibility, it may produce undesired results and asymetry in customer treatment that is not based on objective functions but subjective reasoning by the agent. Instead, an RTD decision may be introduced to recommend escalation or other kinds of treatments.
  • Content Selection - a process may include the use of messaging with customers. The selection of the most appropriate message to the customer given the content can be optimized with RTD.
  • A/B Testing - a process may have optional paths for which it is not clear what populations they work better for. Rather than making the arbitrary selection or selection by committee of the option deeped the best, RTD can be introduced to dynamically determine the best path for each unit.
In summary, RTD can be used to make BPM based process automation more dynamic and adaptable to the different situations encountered in processing. Effectively making the automation softer, less rigid in its processing. In order for this to work the people responsible for the process need to understand the what are the important KPIs that the business is really interested in optimizing for, and make a concerted effort in measuring up to those KPIs and optimizing the process to achieve better results. The benefit of making better decisions in a process flow can be tremendous, as exemplified by many of current RTD implementations.



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Issues related to Oracle Real-Time Decisions (RTD). Entries include implementation tips, technology descriptions and items of general interest to the RTD community.

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