By Tanu Sood-Oracle on Feb 29, 2016
Brent Seaman, Vice President, Cloud Solutions, Mythics, Inc.
When you think Public Cloud, do you think “vanilla”? Many people do.
Many SaaS applications are built to run essentially out-of-the-box and to be configurable without much room for customization. While that works for many organizations, some business problems benefit from a tailored application that maps to unique business processes. In those instances, when a custom process needs modeled or when process automation enhances efficiency, I’ve found that Business Process Management (BPM) tools are the place to turn.
In the fall of 2015, Mythics bought Oracle Process Cloud Service (OraclePCS or PCS) to aid in automating certain business processes in our operations. In the professional services industry, proposals, agreements, and contracts are more routine than getting an oil change or eating dinner. Mythics has processes common to other organizations. The ones of interest were not part of a particular CRM or ERP tool, but do interface with those systems. We chose automating the Statement of Work approval process as our first endeavor with OraclePCS.
Compared to BPM software installed on-premise, Oracle Process Cloud Service eliminates the IT burden for BPM infrastructure. It puts the problem and solution in the hands of the line of business (LoB) where the process expertise exists. OraclePCS also allows progression of processes from a Development or Test environment to UAT and Production either to the Cloud or to on-premises BPM infrastructure. Even though Mythics has expertise to efficiently stand up an on-premise BPM infrastructure, OraclePCS allowed us to eliminate those activities and better manage one of our most precious commodities – time.
With a growing business that is intent on remaining agile in operations, quick and effective innovation is important for Mythics. Process modeling and implementation accelerators came in handy for us on the very first use of Oracle PCS. We modeled the process in Business Process Composer and were able to test the process flow using the Play function - which most closely resembles the debug function of some Integrated Development Environments – allowing us to step through the process in a play-by-play fashion. Once all routes prove out with the Play feature, the process can be promoted to a Test environment or to Production.
A key approach we took with the toolset is to combine Oracle Process Cloud Service with Oracle Documents Cloud Service (OracleDOCS or DOCS). We use DOCS in conjunction with PCS to manage the documents associated with the process. Documents can be used to kick-off a process, for in-work editing, and to release an approved state. Processes use documents – they naturally fit together.
The desktop sync client in DOCS allows us to drop a SOW or other supporting documents into the opportunity folder to feed the approval request process with reference items. This folder example happens to be from Windows. The same function exists for Mac OSX.
Below, is an example of the corresponding folder from a web browser. The desktop sync function allows users to work offline when not connected to the network, and it automatically syncs to the Document Cloud Service when reconnected to the network. We have used several different browsers without issue, including IE, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.
In addition to browser access, we recently started using mobile apps as part of the approval process for PCS and DOCS. By clicking on our opportunity folder link in the PCS form, the appropriate DOCS folder automatically opens in the Oracle Documents mobile app (available on both Android and iOS). We have approvers using this functionality to review and approve from their mobile devices.
DOCS is a common repository for use across many Cloud services and can be leveraged for a variety of uses. We plan to leverage our investment of this Cloud tool with other projects, which include pulling in share drive content and integrating to our CRM tool for a standard of record.
Similarly, we plan to leverage the Process Cloud Service technology across other processes. Our approach was to start with one business process, support the organizational change to process automation, then to expand to other processes. Some organizations may take a different approach, but this one made natural sense to us. We are currently mapping a process for environment (VM) provisioning process for our Technology Innovation Center. Future implementations will include processes for procurement approval, new employee on-boarding, event planning, and solution development.
I joined a webcast in November with David Le Strat from Oracle Product Management to share our experience. My recorded portion is in the second half of this webcast. A collection of the Q&A from that session can be found here. A brief video summarizing the benefits from our solution strategy can be found here.
For anyone looking at stepping into the Cloud, process mapping and automation is a safe way to start. You can define your process as big or small as you like. You can update the process over time. You can determine how many people to involve in the process from the start. Starting at the right size project for you will help with adoption of the application.
Business Process Management is certainly a way to achieve quick time to benefits. Automating processes in this way provides ancillary benefits like traceability, reporting, cycle time reduction, and process improvement.
When considering a process automation project with BPM tools, consider a manageable scope and grow from there and make sure to include a good communication plan from the start. Stakeholders will want to know what is planned and how things turned out. In addition, the broader organization will want to be well informed along the way.
If any part of this blog article was interesting to you, you may also like other Cloud Computing articles by Mythics. One good summary of the Oracle Cloud Platform Services by Shawn Ruff is in this collection.
Consider connecting with us at Oracle CloudWorld in DC on March 24. Oracle is planning several different areas of interest from HR, Marketing, and Customer Services cloud applications to Back Office and industry focused sessions.