Consultancies need to deliver a smarter use of business process assets

In business transformation projects like enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations, a major part of the labor for consultancies is gathering information from clients, and analyzing business processes (BP) to streamline and cleverly improve BPs by IT support. In an ERP project one of the main deliverables created is a business blueprint document describing the BPs and their implementation in ERP solutions like SAP®, Oracle® or Microsoft®.

  For clients the business blueprint is a valuable asset in terms of business process management (BPM): Their process documentation is up-to-date and available for the management of their future business requirements.Traditionally, consultants create blueprints as Word documents with the BP diagrams included. The drawback of this format is the complexity of information, inconsistency of documents and outdated process documentation if plain Visio is used for BP mapping.

For this reason many consultancies have started to use professional, repository-based BPM tools such as ARIS® and generate the blueprint deliverables directly from their tool of choice by means of reports. This delivers a consistent and more accurate documentation of BPs and their IT implementation.

But even this document deliverable is merely a static snapshot of process documentation which is hardly maintainable and manageable for further use of by the client’s organization.

Looking at clients’ tool landscapes we see that in many cases no professional BPM tools are used; but even if they are, then varying tools are in place and it is almost impossible to exchange the BP model assets among such tools, although standards like BPMN™ and XDPL are employed. And honestly, delivering the HTML export of BP models from different BPM tools has the same drawback as mentioned above; they are static snapshots, not really maintainable by clients.

That said, the good thing is that clients today are more aware of the value of having the blueprint documentation as a maintainable deliverable – and yes, there is one additional fact: Microsoft® Visio® is everywhere.

A great value proposition for consultancies and a remarkable differentiator in the consulting market is the hand-over of the BPM assets to the clients as they demand them from their system or are willing to pay for them externally. I have identified the following main use cases…

Use case 1: Microsoft® Visio® deliverables The consultancy uses a professional tool, because on the client-side no BPM tool is in place and the client is not willing to invest in a costly tool like ARIS®. The consultants can still use their favored BPM tool and create the blueprint documentation deliverable as a set of hyperlinked Visio® diagrams. These Visio® diagrams can then be managed by the client with plain, standard Visio®. With the BPM-X Converter all BP models captured during the project are converted to Visio® diagrams using the consultancy’s specific modeling conventions, no matter which professional BPM tool is used.

Use case 2: Re-use the consultancy’s best-practice BP templates A big differentiator in system integration and consulting service offerings is the IP of a consultancy in specific industries or verticals. The handicap of consultancies is that they have their IP assets in Microsoft® Excel®, Visio® or a specific BPM tool format. If the client requires the use of his favorite tool, there is the need to convert a consultancy’s assets as templates into the desired BPM tool.  With the unfortunate outcome being, the Visio® diagram imported into the desired tools end up with diagrams I would like to call “scrambled eggs”. This is because of poor mapping capabilities and the “tick-the-box” functionality offered by tool vendors; not very helpful for a quick project start. By using BPM-X, BP templates or best-practice models can be converted with high quality into the client’s tool. Notice that modeling conventions like the use of swim lanes can be converted also, even if the consultancy and its client use different standards. This saves time, facilitates the IP and assures the client of a professional and quick project start.

Use case 3: Re-use existing documentation assets Clients value the use of existing documentation assets which they have spent years cultivating, in order to document and maintain business procedures, e.g. in the context of quality management. Even when a best-practice approach is used, it might be wise not to confront the client at the project start with the need for many workshops to capture “as-is” BPs instead of reusing the existing documentation. It is a market differentiator for a consulting company offering services that save the client’s time and money for a quick project start (e.g. migrating existing Visio® diagrams into ARIS® or any other tool with BPM-X technology).

Use case 4: Continue to use your tool In today’s heterogeneous modeling tool landscape, BP models are basically not exchanged because of different formats, implementation deficits and modeling standards. BPM-X overcomes this gap between supplier and customer with its model exchange bridge enabling the consultancy to use its favorite tool to deliver at the project’s end the BP format the client demands. For instance, the consultants can use IBM Rational System Architect® or OpenText® ProVision and hand over the BP deliverables in the ARIS® format. This avoids the effort and costs of learning new tools the client is not be willing to pay for and eliminates the need to convert BP best-practice templates.

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