Business Process Interoperability (BPI)

Business process interoperability (BPI) is a property referring to the ability of diverse business processes to work together, to so called “inter-operate”. It is a state that exists when a business process can meet a specific objective automatically utilizing essential human labor only. Typically, BPI is present when a process conforms to standards that enable it to achieve its objective regardless of ownership, location, make, version or design of the computer systems used.

The main attraction of BPI is that a business process can start and finish at any point worldwide regardless of the types of hardware and software required to automate it. Because of its capacity to offload human “mind” labor, BPI is considered by many as the final stage in the evolution of business computing. BPI’s twin criteria of specific objective and essential human labor are both subjective.

The objectives of BPI vary, but tend to fall into the following categories:

Business process interoperability is limited to enterprise software systems in which functions are designed to work together, such as a payroll module and a general ledger module that are part of the same program suite, and in controlled software environments that use EDI. Interoperability is also present between incompatible systems where middleware has been applied. In each of these cases, however, the processes seldom meet the test of BPI because they are constrained by information silos and the systems’ inability to freely communicate among each other.

The term “Business process interoperability” (BPI) was coined in the late 1990s, mostly in connection with the value chain in electronic commerce. BPI has been utilized in promotional materials by various companies, and appears as a subject of research at organizations concerned with computer science ontologies.

Despite the attention it has received, business process interoperability has not been applied outside of limited information system environments. A possible reason is that BPI requires universal conformance to standards so that a business process can start and finish at any point worldwide. The standards themselves are fairly straightforward—organizations use a finite set of shared processes to manage most of their operations. Bringing enterprises together to create and adopt the standards is another matter entirely. The world of management systems is, after all, characterized by information silos. Moving away from silos requires organizations to deal with cultural issues such as ownership and sharing of processes and data, competitive forces and security, not to mention the effect of automation on their work forces.

While the timetable or adoption of BPI cannot be predicted, it remains a subject of interest in organizations and think tanks alike.

To test for BPI, an organization analyzes a business process to determine if it can meet its specific objective utilizing essential human labor only.

The specific objective must be clearly defined from start to finish. Start and finish are highly subjective, however. In one organization, a process may start when a customer orders a product and finish when the product is delivered to the customer. In another organization, the same process may be preceded with product manufacture and distribution, and may be followed by management of after-sale warranty and repairs.

Essential human labor includes:

To qualify for BPI, every process task must be taken into account from start to finish, including the labor that falls between the cracks created by incompatible software applications, such as gathering data from one system and re-inputting it in another, and preparing reports that include data from disparate systems. The process must flow uninterrupted regardless of the underlying computerized systems used. If non-essential human labor exists at any point, the process fails the test of BPI.

To assure that business processes can meet their specific objectives automatically utilizing essential human labor only, BPI takes a “service-oriented architecture“ (SOA) approach, which focuses on the processes rather than on the technologies required to automate them. A widely used SOA is an effective way to address the problems caused by any disparate system that is the heart of each information silo.

SOA makes practical sense because organizations cannot be expected to replace or modify their current enterprise software to achieve BPI, regardless of the benefits involved. Many workers’ jobs are built around the applications they use, and most organizations have sizable investments in their current information infrastructures which are so complex that even the smallest modification can be very costly, time-consuming and disruptive. Even if software makers were to unite and conform their products to a single set of standards, the problem would not be solved. Besides software from well-known manufacturers, organizations use a great many legacy software systems, custom applications, manual procedures and paper forms. Without SOA, streamlining such a huge number of disparate internal processes so that they interoperate across the entire global enterprise spectrum is simply out of the question.

To create an SOA for widespread use, BPI relies on a centralized database repository containing shared data and procedures common to applications in every industry and geographical area. In essence, the repository serves as a top application layer, enabling organizations to export their data to its distributed database and obtain the programs they need by simply logging on via a portal. To assure security and commercial neutrality, the repository conforms to standards promulgated by the community of BPI stakeholders.

Organizations and interest groups that wish to achieve business process interoperability begin by establishing one or more BPI initiatives.

Project Workforce Management (PWM)

Project workforce management is the practice of combining the coordination of all logistic elements of a project through a single software application (or workflow engine). This includes planning and tracking of schedules and mileposts, cost and revenue, resource allocation, as well as overall management of these project elements. Efficiency is improved by eliminating manual processes, like spreadsheet tracking to monitor project progress. It also allows for at-a-glance status updates and ideally integrates with existing legacy applications in order to unify ongoing projects, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and broader organizational goals. There are a lot of logistic elements in a project. Different team members are responsible for managing each element and often, the organisation may have a mechanism to manage some logistic areas as well.

By coordinating these various components of project management, workforce management and financials through a single solution, the process of configuring and changing project and workforce details is simplified.

A project workforce management system defines project tasks, project positions, and assigns personnel to the project positions. The project tasks and positions are correlated to assign a responsible project position or even multiple positions to complete each project task. Because each project position may be assigned to a specific person, the qualifications and availabilities of that person can be taken into account when determining the assignment. By associating project tasks and project positions, a manager can better control the assignment of the workforce and complete the project more efficiently.

When it comes to project workforce management, it is all about managing all the logistic aspects of a project or an organisation through a software application. Usually, this software has a workflow engine defined. Therefore, all the logistic processes take place in the workflow engine.

This invention relates to project management systems and methods, more particularly to a software-based system and method for project and workforce management.

Due to the software usage, all the project workflow management tasks can be fully automated without leaving many tasks for the project managers. This returns high efficiency to the project management when it comes to project tracking proposes. In addition to different tracking mechanisms, project workforce management software also offer a dashboard for the project team. Through the dashboard, the project team has a glance view of the overall progress of the project elements.

Most of the times, project workforce management software can work with the existing legacy software systems such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. This easy integration allows the organisation to use a combination of software systems for management purposes.

Good project management is an important factor for the success of a project. A project may be thought of as a collection of activities and tasks designed to achieve a specific goal of the organisation, with specific performance or quality requirements while meeting any subject time and cost constraints. Project management refers to managing the activities that lead to the successful completion of a project. Furthermore, it focuses on finite deadlines and objectives. A number of tools may be used to assist with this as well as with assessment.

Project management may be used when planning personnel resources and capabilities. The project may be linked to the objects in a professional services life cycle and may accompany the objects from the opportunity over quotation, contract, time and expense recording, billing, period-end-activities to the final reporting. Naturally the project gets even more detailed when moving through this cycle.

For any given project, several project tasks should be defined. Project tasks describe the activities and phases that have to be performed in the project such as writing of layouts, customising, testing. What is needed is a system that allows project positions to be correlated with project tasks. Project positions describe project roles like project manager, consultant, tester, etc. Project-positions are typically arranged linearly within the project. By correlating project tasks with project positions, the qualifications and availability of personnel assigned to the project positions may be considered.

Good project management should:

When it comes to project workforce management, it is all about managing all the logistic aspects of a project or an organisation through a software application. Usually, this software has a workflow engine defined in them. So, all the logistic processes take place in the workflow engine.

The regular and most common types of tasks handled by project workforce management software or a similar workflow engine are:

Regularly monitoring your project’s schedule performance can provide early indications of possible activity-coordination problems, resource conflicts, and possible cost overruns. To monitor schedule performance. Collecting information and evaluating it ensure a project accuracy.

The project schedule outlines the intended result of the project and what’s required to bring it to completion. In the schedule, we need to include all the resources involved and cost and time constraints through a work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS outlines all the tasks and breaks them down into specific deliverables.

The importance of tracking actual costs and resource usage in projects depends upon the project situation.

Tracking actual costs and resource usage is an essential aspect of the project control function.

Organisational profitability is directly connected to project management efficiency and optimal resource utilisation. To sum up, organisations that struggle with either or both of these core competencies typically experience cost overruns, schedule delays and unhappy customers.

The focus for project management is the analysis of project performance to determine whether a change is needed in the plan for the remaining project activities to achieve the project goals.

Risk identification consists of determining which risks are likely to affect the project and documenting the characteristics of each.

Project communication management is about how communication is carried out during the course of the project

It is of no use completing a project within the set time and budget if the final product is of poor quality. The project manager has to ensure that the final product meets the quality expectations of the stakeholders. This is done by good:

There are three main differences between Project Workforce Management and traditional project management and workforce management disciplines and solutions:

All project and workforce processes are designed, controlled and audited using a built-in graphical workflow engine. Users can design, control and audit the different processes involved in the project. The graphical workflow is quite attractive for the users of the system and allows the users to have a clear idea of the workflow engine.

Project Workforce Management provides organization and work breakdown structures to create, manage and report on functional and approval hierarchies, and to track information at any level of detail. Users can create, manage, edit and report work breakdown structures. Work breakdown structures have different abstraction levels, so the information can be tracked at any level. Usually, project workforce management has approval hierarchies. Each workflow created will go through several records before it becomes an organisational or project standard. This helps the organisation to reduce the inefficiencies of the process, as it is audited by many stakeholders.

Unlike traditional disconnected project, workforce and billing management systems that are solely focused on tracking IT projects, internal workforce costs or billable projects, Project Workforce Management is designed to unify the coordination of all project and workforce processes, whether internal, shared (IT) or billable.

A project workforce management system defines project tasks, project positions and assigns personnel to the project positions. The project tasks and project positions are correlated to assign a responsible project position or positions to complete each project task. Because each project position may be assigned to a specific person, the qualification and availabilities of the person can be taken into account when determining the assignment. By correlating the project tasks and project positions, a manager can better control the assignment of the workforce and complete projects more efficiently.

Project workflow management is one of the best methods for managing different aspects of project. If the project is complex, then the outcomes for the project workforce management could be more effective.

For simple projects or small organisations, project workflow management may not add much value, but for more complex projects and big organisations, managing project workflow will make a big difference. This is because that small organisations or projects do not have a significant overhead when it comes to managing processes. There are many project workforce management, but many organisations prefer to adopt unique solutions.

Therefore, organisation gets software development companies to develop custom project workflow managing systems for them. This has proved to be the most suitable way of getting the best project workforce management system acquired for the company.