A Framework for the use of Business Activity Monitoring in Process Improvement

A Framework for the use of Business Activity Monitoring in Process Improvement

Owen Molloy (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland) and Claire Sheridan (Accenture Information Management Services, United Kingdom)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-016-6.ch002
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Process performance improvement initiatives can be significantly enhanced in terms of performance measurement and diagnosis by real-time performance, quality and traceability information. Currently available Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Process Management (BPM) systems struggle to provide sufficiently lightweight or flexible solutions for the needs of process improvement projects. In addition, current process modelling languages such as XPDL and BPEL provide little or no support for the inclusion of detailed process performance metrics. This paper describes a generic framework using event-based process modelling to support the definition and inclusion of performance metrics and targets within process models, and the calculation of process performance metrics at user-defined intervals. The iWise implementation of this framework is an XML and Web services-based infrastructure that uses this event-based model for enhancing process visibility using real-time process metrics. Users can adjust alert thresholds on key process metrics in real-time. iWise also evaluates events for outlier or out-of-bounds events as they are processed. It uses an integrated rules engine, leveraging semantic technologies to write rules which are tested as process-related events occur in real-time.
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Business Processes

Before looking in depth at the methods and tools of process improvement it is important to establish a clear understanding of what business processes are about. At the highest level of abstraction we can consider a process as a collection of related tasks which are initiated in response to a particular event, which achieves a specific result for the customer of that process, to paraphrase the definition of Sharpe & McDermott (2001).

Possibly the simplest model of a process is shown in Figure 1. In this transformational model of a process we see that our process must deal with certain inputs (e.g. raw material, information) and produce outputs such as goods or services. The actual transformation itself could be a physical transformation in that the output is created from the combination of the input; it could be a transactional transformation such as the generation of airline tickets or the processing of an insurance claim; it could be locational, such as the transportation of goods from one location to another. Other examples include informational, involving the generation of useful information (such as a weather forecast) from raw data (such as meteorological data). In all businesses people are now beginning to think of what they do as processes. We will see later that this process thinking is vital to beginning on the path to process improvement. What is fundamental to our understanding of a process we wish to improve is that we can clearly identify the boundaries (start, end events) and scope of that process.

Figure 1.

Transformation Model of a Process


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