Process Model Design as an Important Step of Successful Implementation of Information Systems

Anna Pinaeva

Consultant of "Umalogic”

Read the interview with [the author] to learn about interesting and useful practices and tools that are used to reduce time and cost of an information system implementation project.

You will learn:

  • How to apply functionality of standard IT systems to real customer processes, and why the development of a process model is an important step of a project?
  • How to use scenarios of users’ activities obtained as a result of process modeling?
  • What are the benefits of the process and use cases standardization for the Integrator and the Customer?

— [Author], please tell us about what your company does?

The company ________ has been working on increasing project efficiency through business process digitization and project management since _____. We develop digital solutions for order, project, resource and finance management and provide our customers with the implementation, customization and support services.

— As a rule, standard processes used as scenarios within the digital systems, differ from real customer processes. How do you deal with this? Do you develop process models before developing Operational Concepts, for example?

[Company name] has completed many projects that started with the description of business processes. Sometimes we receive the described business processes and technical requirements from the Customer.

Often, the Customer considers the functions of the purchasing system to be useful and relevant, but has no clear understanding of how to use their combination to get a specific result. At the same time, any information system has a standard workflow and a sequence of data entry steps to get a result.

Based on the results of the survey of the Customer’s activities, we understand how formalized and realistic the Customer’s business processes are and how well the standard functionality of our system suits the Customer.

At this stage, we can classify the project into one of the 4 groups (see Figure 1) and decide on a further approach to implementation:

If the standard functionality of our system suits the Customer to a greater extent and integrates with existing business processes, we suggest launching it first. Later functionality of the system can be modified, new activities can be digitized, but we recommend that the Customer starts with implementation of the “core” of the system with its standard scenarios and configuration. This is what we call a Standard project.

Its purpose is to achieve the desired effect using combination of scenarios provided by the system, and the Customer’s business processes. To realize this, we describe the Customer’s processes as they are and propose how they need to be modified so that the standard functionality of the system can be easily applied.

Standard project is the core of the system. It can either be the end digital product or the initial step in the implementation of a complex digitalization project.

If the functionality of our system is not completely suitable for the Customer and we see the need for the significant modification of the standard system scenarios, we recommend that the system should be individually developed to cover the Customer’s activities.

In case the Customer’s business processes are not formalized, we describe the business processes first. A process model is developed in the Business Studio system. Most often we start with the top-level process model. Each of the top-level processes is then decomposed up to the level of user scenarios.

Sometimes at this stage we suggest modification and optimization of some Customer’s processes or scenarios for smoother implementation of the digital system at further stages. It is not uncommon for our proposed scenarios to take the form of regular business processes, since we possess experience of industrial designing and best practices.

— How do you use the developed user scenarios at the implementation stage of the system?

Each user scenario is a kind of instruction that describes further use of our system by the Customer after the corresponding activities are digitized. The scenario covers all the details: it indicates who will be involved in this or that process, what system objects will be related to the process being performed, and so on. To describe all these relationships, we also use Business Studio.

Figure 1. A sample scenario

As a result, we get the clickable HTML model of all the user scenarios. The model contains all the functions of the system that should be implemented, as well as the sequence of steps to perform them.

Figure 2. HTML scenario model

Based on the scenarios and the activity responsibility matrix with roles, a matrix for configuring user access rights to system objects is developed, which is further transformed into an access rights matrix and a role model of the information system.

Before the system goes into the trial operation, the Customer observes the HTML model, which contains usage scenarios, activity responsibility matrix with roles (access groups) and user instructions.

HTML model scenarios can also be used at each workstation later, when the system is implemented already. The model provides clear and accessible help information, and thus, increases Customer satisfaction with our system.

“The time spent by an ordinary employee for training has been reduced up to the 40% due to the use of the e-learning materials. At the same time overall motivation and teamwork efficiency increased because employees have all the necessary instructions on how to perform the tasks they get from the information system.”

[customer representative] speaking about the knowledge base they received as one of the project results.

In Customized projects, the scenarios developed in Business Studio are transferred first into a logical and then into a physical data model to further manage development of the customized digital system.

— What are the major effects from using the user scenarios in the digitalization projects?

The Business Studio system brings the major effect when implementing a Standard Project.
Using Business Studio, we have developed a template business process and standard scenarios of users’ actions in the implementing system. These scenarios are then customized for the Customer business processes within each implementation project.

Standardization of usage scenarios, processes and certain predefined tools (like handling of the upload of normative and reference information) made it possible for us to optimize the labor costs and efforts spent for modelling user activities in the system, as well as preparation and processing of Help documentation after the system is implemented.

All this has enabled us to optimize the time and cost of a regular system implementation project. Here is an example: previously, our business analysts spent up to 3 weeks (120 hours) to prepare reporting documentation as a result of modeling the scenarios. Now this is done within one week only.

We are now developing an extended Standard project that contains, among other things, budgeting and treasury subsystems. Thus, our standard model is growing and its functional coverage is increasing.

One of the benefits the Customer receives from implementing the Standard project is the rapid commissioning of the system. Let me explain how it works: to implement a large digitalization project, usually you need about six months to design a system, then another six months are required for the development of the system, and only after that, the implementation stage starts. Most customers don’t want to wait for a year to get the benefits of automation, they want to receive the results here and now. A Standard project makes it possible to optimize and standardize the first step and start using the system in about two-three months.

— Where do you draw your successful project practices from? Or is it mostly your own experience?

This is a kind of a symbiosis of the real market needs, the feedback we get from our customers, and our own developments, which include our ideas, knowledge, techniques and best practices. We regularly hold webinars for our clients, where we demonstrate new functionality of a system and discuss our ideas on system development. We analyze all our projects and identify common universal needs of our Customers to implement them into the Standard system configuration.

— What are your plans for developing your methodology with Business Studio in mind?

Depending on the industry, the Customers use different functions of our system, so the activity scenarios are slightly different. For example, engineering companies seldom use the functionality that covers management of volumes performed. At the same time accounting functions of our system that are developed in accordance with the Accounting Regulations, are fundamental for construction and design companies. For labor-intensive production the labor cost management plays a key role. We want to develop standard scenario templates for each industry. Thus, methodology embedded in the system and based on practical industry experience will not cease to be relevant.

Keywords:

business process digitization, Operational Concept, modification сustomer processes, user scenarios, functions of the system, activity responsibility matrix with roles, role model, model scenarios, Standardization of usage scenarios, modeling the scenarios

February 2023

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