Archive for January, 2010

Personal Process Management, the “life” scenario…

January 8, 2010 1 comment

The Personal Process Management concept describes the “birth to death” processes that are common to us all. Whilst these processes may occur infrequently in a person’s lifetime (acquisition of property/vehicle, application for employment, marriage/divorce), they are typically complex and time consuming. Due to the high importance individuals place on these long term transactions and the demand for their easy consumption via web 2.0 services, there are now multiple opportunities for the engagement of service providers to support these processes (Finance/Insurance/Govt).

In an effort to visualise the potential for the automation of a process on the birth-to-death value chain via a web service or mobile device, the “purchasing a property” transaction is represented in the below value chain.

The scope for our automation piece is to “deliver an innovative, portable (web/mobile/media device based) application designed to assist with the purchase of a residential dwelling. With each process step, opportunities for commercial engagement of service providers will be supported where possible by automated emerging technologies”.

Some Process Drivers

  • Use the concept of a single sign on -”user profile for life” providing data portability between social networking sites – facebook/myspace/twitter
  • Enhance this profile further through property related questions such as User demographics/Price range/Location/Property characteristics

    Lifestyle questions are asked to assist with property selection –

  • Proximity to work/schools/hospitals/public transport – how far is the Purchaser prepared to travel?
  • If the Purchaser has children – “Do you prefer public/private schools?”
  • Public transport – “Do you prefer bus/train/ferry?”
  • Sports/hobbies/recreation – location & distance from properties
  • Importance of proximity to theatres/movies/restaurants
  • * Property and lifestyle questions can be weighted for importance – a 5th bedroom may be more important than a pool or proximity to transport.

    Several opportunities and issues were then identified whilst discussing these process drivers, and were grouped into three distinct categories –

    1. Social Drivers

  • Target demographic – who is most likely to use this app?
  • Baby Boomers/Gen X, Y or I?
  • How to market?
  • Application will be of most interest to Real Estate Vendors/Financiers/mobile app developers
  • 2. Technical Challenges

  • Hardware/software requirements
  • Application complexity and user interface/functionality
  • Single sign-on & application interactions – Facebook/Vendor web sites
  • 3. Commercial Opportunities

  • Partnership with service providers
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Financiers
  • Removalists
  • Utility suppliers
  • A quick SWOT analysis was then undertaken to assist us in recognising our objectives and risks:

  • Use of web 2.0 and emerging technologies
  • Foundation for other “life process” models
  • Widespread use of technology platform (TV/Media devices/Mobile)
  • Weaknesses

  • Initial recognition of purpose
  • Process transparency/trust
  • Opportunities

  • Global market
  • Commercial gain from strategic partnerships
  • Technology evolution & market creation
  • Threats

  • Data privacy & security
  • Competitors with value add services
  • From this review, we then developed some “off the cuff” innovation ideas –

  • Use of Social Networking sites to involve/advise the Purchaser’s network.
  • Mashups of Google Earth/Maps/Streetview/videos to support property shortlisting.
  • Use of OpenID or similar to auto populate Purchaser profile details in initial form.
  • Leverage functionality of property websites for property searches; shortlists & saved shortlists.
  • Preferred supplier concept similar to eBay where feedback is used to rate top 10 vendors in geographic proximity
  • – Removalists
    – Building/Pest
    – Utility providers etc

  • Property type/location etc suggested based upon Purchaser demographic.
  • Ability to save shortlist of properties for future reference.
  • Automated quotation process where Vendors “bid” for work & Purchaser selects best quote – reverse auction.
  • After all this review, analysis and discussion we could finally develop our BPMN process overview model:

    At a conceptual level, the six individual process steps are as follows:

  • Create an online profile to provide standard demographic details
  • User then specifies
  • – location preferences
    – Property value range $
    – Property features –> # of bedrooms/bathrooms/features reqd

  • In addition extra “lifestyle” requirements are recorded
  • – Proximity to work/schools/hospitals/transport
    – Recreation details – sports/hobbies
    – Entertainment/what’s on – theatre/movies/restaurants
    – “How far are you prepared to travel”

  • User profile then assessed by online Real Estate databases
  • Profile matched against social infrastructure/council/transport sites
  • * This mashup is returned to the Purchaser as a property shortlist combining data from numerous sites


  • Purchaser details and saved shortlisted property details are forwarded to Financiers.
  • Financier completes initial assessments and determines finance limits
  • Financier updates shortlist with indicative loan amount & advises Purchaser
  • * This step is automated & handled via email – triggered by Purchaser action & focused on a quick turnaround.

    3 – View Property

  • The Purchaser may view the property either online or in person
  • Online is supported by Google maps/street view & property virtual tours.
  • On site – potential to record images & comments via mobile/laptop to saved search list for future reference.
  • * The ability to create & retain a digital artefact will aid the selection process & is valuable for future reference.

    4 – Contract

  • Purchaser signs Contract dependant upon Finance and building and pest approval
  • Using information retained in the property shortlist, local service providers are contacted to provide quotes for
  • – Building & pest inspection
    – Removalists
    – Utility connections etc

  • Digital property artefact updated with these details
  • * Concept of reverse auction where Vendors bid for the work required. Could also be ranked based on customer feedback – eBay style

    5 – Finance

  • Contract sent to Financier for finance approval with an electronic copy of property details.
  • Finance approved/rejected
  • Details of finance agreement “attached” to digital property artefact.
  • * Improved transparency of Finance steps and retention of loan agreement documents.

    6 – Handover

  • Handover of property organised between Financier’s and Solicitors
  • This date is also a trigger for previously engaged service providers
  • – Removalists
    – Utility companies

    * All process steps are now recorded and retained for future reference

    Now, the next challenge is to develop a prototype gui for the web/media devices/mobile phones along the lines of iTunes Cover Flow or similar, and then market this application in an ever expanding range of mobile applications.

    Categories: BPM

    Business Process Modelling (BPM) Best Practice

    January 6, 2010 2 comments

    A business process could be defined as the self-contained, logical order of activities, that are executed for the transformation of an business object with the goal of accomplishing a given task.
    As key business processes are typically valuable corporate assets, process modelling can be used to define, analyse, improve and even automate these tasks, all of which support the business process management (BPM) process. Effective process modelling makes use of a common naming convention and methodology, shows the integration of processes with systems, organisations and data, and supports process walkthroughs for validation.

    These models, as represented above in swimlane format, represent the benchmark process flow upon which further “what-if” analysis can be measured and in turn supports process reengineering for the introduction of improvements and efficiencies.

    Business Process Modelling can be viewed as the second stage of the BPM approach, laying the foundation for the process analysis, improvement, implementation and control steps.

    One approach to process modelling is to use a modelling tool such as ARIS from IDS Scheer that applies a defined Grammar (syntax, semantics, notation) and supports a proven methodology (conventions, lifecycle, process). A modelling grammar provides the set of principles and rules against the use of a defined set of symbols used to visualise entity relationships. The modelling methodology typically follows accepted standards specifying the syntax, semantics and notation applied through the modelling process lifecycle.
    The best modelling tools also offer reference models and lifecycle management tools to facilitate the modelling process. A step further is for the application to offer workflow modelling and execution, such as YAWL.

    So what really contributes to the success of a process modelling exercise?
    In addition to the actual “process of process modelling” (conducting interviews. workshops etc) and the use of an effective modelling application, other key success factors include the level of senior management support for the project and access to staff with sufficient application domain knowledge. One point to always remember though is that different stakeholders (model designer v contributor v consumer) will always have a differing view of the process due to their organisational role and skill set eg. Business or IT focus. Factors of difference will include the perceived usefulness, ease of use and overall satisfaction of the models intended use.

    And finally, a view of the process modelling roadblocks and the current issues identified in a study by Indulska, Recker and Rosemann from both an academic and practitioner perspective. Through this study it became clear that academics typically concentrate on the functional process modelling properties whilst BPM practitioners are more concerned with process adoption issues.

    This disconnect between academia and process application is further highlighted in the following perceived benefits of process modelling table:

    So where does that leave us now? Ready to discuss model governance and process execution…..

    Big thanks to Professor Michael Rosemann and Dr Jan Recker of the QUT BPM group for the use of the information contained in this post! 🙂

    Highly recommended reading:
    Becker, Kugeler, Rosemann. Process Management. Springer-Verlag, August 2003. ISBN 3540434992
    Factors and measures of business process modelling: model building through a multiple case study. Wasana Bandara, Guy G Gable and Michael Rosemann. European Journal of Information Systems (2005) 14, 347–360
    Indulska, M., Green, P., Recker, J., Rosemann, M. (2009): Business Process Modeling: Perceived Benefits. The 28th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling. Springer, Gramado, Brazil
    Indulska, M., Recker, J., Rosemann, M., Green, P. (2009): Business Process Modeling: Current Issues and Future Challenges. In P. van Eck, J. Gordijn, and R. Wieringa (eds.): Advanced Information Systems Engineering – CAiSE 2009. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Volume 5565. Springer, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 501-514.

    Categories: BPM