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Eindhoven University of Technology Faculty of Technology Management Department of Information and Technology P.O. Box 513 5600 MB Eindhoven The Netherlands w.m.p.v.d.aalst @ tm .tue.nl. (Re)designing workflows Tips and tricks. Wil van der Aalst. Designing a workflow. begin. analyze.

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re designing workflows tips and tricks
Eindhoven University of Technology

Faculty of Technology Management

Department of Information and Technology

P.O. Box 513

5600 MB Eindhoven

The Netherlands

[email protected]

(Re)designing workflows Tips and tricks.

Wil van der Aalst

designing a workflow
Designing a workflow

begin

analyze

What?

analyze

objectives

How?

text

analyze

tasks and

processes

By whom?

process definition

resources and

scheduling

realization

resource classification

allocation rules

guidelines
Guidelines
  • Start with the identification of a case.What is the case?
    • A case is often initiated by a customer (internal or external!)
    • The process adds value to a case.
    • A case has a life-cycle with begin and end.
    • A case cannot be divided, but the work can.
  • Determine the scope of the process as soon as possible.
  • Determine the goal of a process (added value).
  • Ignore the existence of resources during the design of a process.
guidelines 2
Guidelines (2)
  • Workflow modeling is an iterative process
    • don\'t be afraid to make mistakes !!
    • tasks are split and joined during the process
    • use hierarchy: divide and conquer
  • During the process a task should become a Logical Unit of Work (LUW)
    • atomic: commit or rollback
    • a task is executed by the same person, at the same time, at the same place
    • avoid setup times (not too small)
    • avoid large chucks (commit work should be limited)
extracting information from an existing process
Extracting information from an existing process.
  • Follow (paper) documents.
  • Identify communication between people, teams and departments.

C

A

D

B

  • Identify regular communication patterns (dialog/protocol).

A

B

C

request

command

information

information

message

sequence

chart

request

response

reengineering workflows
Reengineering workflows
  • BPR: fundamental, radical, dramatic, process.
  • Ignore existing processes and organization.
  • Symptoms of a sick process:
    • too many cases (in-process-inventory)
    • (throughput time / service time)-ratio is too high
    • service level (% in time) is too low
  • Key performance indicators:
    • throughput time, waiting time, service level
    • occupation rate, number of cases, ...
guidelines for bpr
Guidelines for BPR
  • Check the necessity of each task.
  • Appoint a process manager.
  • Appoint case managers.
  • (Re)consider the size of each task.
  • (Re)consider the trade-off between a generic process and multiple versions of the same process.
  • (Re)consider the trade-off between a generic task and multiple specialized tasks.
  • Try to introduce more parallelism.
guidelines for bpr 2
Guidelines for BPR (2)
  • Investigate new opportunities as a result of modern technology.
  • Optimize communication structure.
  • Do not automate paper workflows!
  • An electronic document is everywhere and nowhere.
  • Use resources as if they are in the same room.
  • Use a resource for what it is good at.
  • Maintain as much flexibility as possible for the future.
  • Avoid setup times by clustering tasks.
  • Avoid setups and exploit routine by clustering cases.
design criteria
Design criteria

A process design is evaluated on the basis of four

key issues:

  • time
  • quality
  • costs
  • flexibility

Often there is a trade-off!

design criterion 1 time
Design criterion 1: Time
  • Throughput time is composed of:
    • service time (including set-up)
    • transport time (can often be reduced to 0)
    • waiting time
      • sharing of resources (limited capacity)
      • external communication (trigger time)
  • There are several ways to evaluate throughput/waiting time:
    • average
    • variance
    • service level
    • ability to meet due dates
design criterion 2 quality
Design criterion 2: Quality
  • External: satisfaction of the customer
    • Product: product meets specification/expectation.
    • Process: the way the product is delivered (service level)
  • Internal: conditions of work
    • challenging
    • varying
    • controlling

There is often a positive correlation between external and

internal quality.

design criterion 3 costs
Design criterion 3: Costs
  • Type of costs
    • fixed or variable,
    • human, system (hardware/software), or external,
    • processing, management, or support.

Note the trade-off between human/system-related costs.

design criterion 4 flexibility
Design criterion 4: Flexibility
  • The ability to react to changes.
  • Flexibility of
    • resources (ability to execute many tasks/new tasks)
    • process (ability to handle various cases and changing workloads)
    • management (ability to change rules/allocation)
    • organization (ability to change the structure and responsiveness to wishes of the market and business partners)
trade off
Trade-off

Costs

Time

Flexibility

Quality

(T+/-,Q+/-,C+/-,F+/-)

1 check the necessity of each task

A

B

check

A

B

auto-select

A

B

check

(1) Check the necessity of each task
  • Every "check task" may be skipped: a trade-off between the costs of the check and the costs of not doing the check.

(T+,Q-,C+/-)

2 appoint process case managers
(2) Appoint process/case managers
  • A process manager monitors a process to see whether there are bottlenecks, capacity problems and delayed cases. Management instruments: motivating the people involved in the process and control parameters.
  • Case managers are assigned to a case. They are responsible and execute as many tasks as possible for the case. Benefits:
    • commitment
    • reduction of setup time
    • one contact person

(Q+)

3 re consider the size of each task
(3) (Re)consider the size of each task

Pros: less work to commit, allows for specialization.

Cons: setup time, fragmentation, less commitment.

Pros: setup reduction, no fragmentation, more commitment.

Cons: more work to commit, one person needs to be qualified for both parts.

Also a trade-off between the complexity of the process

and the complexity of a task.

(T+,F-)

4 trade off one generic process or multiple versions
(4) Trade-off: one generic process or multiple versions

A

B

A

B

A\B

A Ç B

B\A

Issues: simplicity, efficiency, controllability, maintainability, ...

(F+/-)

5 trade off one generic task or multiple specialized tasks
(5) Trade-off: one generic task or multiple specialized tasks
  • Similar considerations.
  • Specialization may lead to:
    • the possibility to improve the allocation of resources
    • more support when executing the task
    • less flexibility
    • a more complex process
    • monotonicity

(T+,F-)

6 introduce as much parallelism as possible

A

B

A

B

(6) Introduce as much parallelism as possible
  • More parallelism leads to improved performance: reduction of waiting times and better use of capacity.
  • Two types of parallelism: semi and real parallelism.
  • IT infrastructures which allow for the sharing of data and work enable parallelism.

(T++)

7 investigate opportunities of it
(7) Investigate opportunities of IT
  • DBMS: sharing of data
    • An electronic document is everywhere and nowhere!
  • Network technology:
    • communication: e-mail, WWW, ...
    • distribution of information: transportation of data is fast, cheap and convenient
  • Automation of task or automated support of tasks
  • Examples:
    • parallel (sharing of data)
    • customer involvement (sending forms via the WWW)
    • form synchronous to asynchronous communication
    • risk analysis based on historical data

Do not automate paper workflows!

(T+,Q+/-,C+/-,F-)

8 improve the allocation of resources
(8) Improve the allocation of resources
  • Use resources as if they are in one room: avoid (at any time!) the situation where one group of people is overloaded and another (similar) group is waiting for work.

(T+,Q-)

slide23
Let people do work that the are good at. However, avoid inflexibility as a result of specialization!
  • Stimulate resources to build routine.
  • When allocating work to resources, consider the flexibility in the near future.
  • Avoid setups as much as possible. There are two kinds of setups: (1) case setups and (2) task setups.
9 improve communication structure

A

B

C

request

command

information

information

request

response

(9) Improve communication structure
  • Reduce the number of messages to be exchanged between the process and the environment.
  • Try to automate the handling of messages (send/receive).
  • Avoid communication errors (EDI,WWW).
  • If possible, use asynchronous instead of synchronous communication.

(T+,Q+,C+/-,F-)

10 order tasks based on cost effect
(10) Order tasks based on cost/effect
  • Consider the class of “knock-out processes”, e.g., hiring people, handling claims, etc.
  • Postphone expensive tasks until the end.
  • Execute highly selective tasks first.
  • In other words: order the tasks using the ratio “costs/effect”.

(T+,C-)

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