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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

w.m.p.v.d.aalst@tm.tue.nl

(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-)


Re designing workflows tips and tricks

  • 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 inflexibility as a result of specialization!

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
( inflexibility as a result of specialization!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-)


Re designing workflows tips and tricks
Case inflexibility as a result of specialization!