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  7. Forrester-Fujitsu Lean Process Discovery Webinar Q&A

Forrester-Fujitsu Lean Process Discovery Webinar Q&A

Questions Posed During the Session

  1. Can you please define "process discovery"? For instance, what are the key activities and goals for process discovery?
  2. Please define time-boxed discovery?
  3. How is the Fujitsu Automated Process Discovery (APD) different from process mining?
  4. What do I get with the APD service?
  5. What kinds of process improvement initiatives have you used APD for?
  6. Is there any average length of time for an "agile" BPM project? For instance, most projects should complete inside of three months with follow up phases going for a year?
  7. What are the characteristics of BPM projects that should be avoided?
  8. Can the APD process be applied to a business process flow vs. a business process performance in a Line of Business (LOB) system?
  9. How was the process data (i.e. activity counts) generated for the APD project? Is this approach only feasible in an enterprise where a BPM (offering is in place)?
  10. In some cases you have multiple processes (e.g., multiple purchase approval processes from different business lines) that you want to standardize to a common process. How do you use this approach to identify that common target state?
  11. How do you deal with systems that don't have the required data elements for APD (ID, Name, Time Stamp)?
  12. Can you elaborate a little on the techniques and tools used to visualize the process once the data has been extracted?
  13. When you say that discovery can be done in 5-6 weeks does that assume that you have full time participation for the business process experts?
  14. Time boxing exercise is good for isolated systems. When it comes to integration with multiple systems, how does this fit in, as there are different stakeholders, many leads etc.
  15. Do units of Fujitsu use this tool internally? If so, what units do and do not use this?
  16. How is the log file from the different systems translated and what technology is used here within APD?
  17. Where is the application data extract coming from and how do you define the data that is captured for extract (i.e. the touch points)?
  18. What are the common systems that are used to harvest data to allow APD to function?
  19. Is this something that you train a company to use, provide them with the tools and leave them to their devices, or do you require a team to come in for each engagement?

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Responses to Questions

Can you please define "process discovery"? For instance, what are the key activities and goals for process discovery?

Process discovery is the first phase of a BPM project that captures process models, requirements, and features for the proposed process solution.

Please define time-boxed discovery?

Time-boxed discovery means specifying a fixed time frame for completing the process discovery phase for a BPM project. This is similar to time-boxed development used by agile development teams – teams agree upfront to a development cycle for all development projects (e.g., three month development cycle).

How is the Fujitsu Automated Process Discovery (APD) different from process mining?

One of the major differences is that many of the process mining solutions are dependent on external agents being inserted into the production environment and need to wait till sufficient data is accumulated. The Fujitsu Automated Process Discovery tool is applied against the existing data sources with no agents installed and everything can be completed off-line without intrusion into any part of your production environment. With Automated Process Discovery, you can fine tune the extraction of the data to ensure that no sensitive data is brought in.

What do I get with the APD service?

The Fujitsu Automated Process Discovery service helps companies:

  1. Quickly visualize existing business processes – within a few weeks
  2. Identify process bottlenecks, steps that get repeated, and "loop-backs" in processes
  3. Pin point areas to focus your process improvement initiative on to demonstrate quick ROI

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What kinds of process improvement initiatives have you used APD for?

  1. Mergers and acquisitions – e.g., large food & beverage company in North America merged with another company and wanted too establish some process best practices and compare processes across operations
  2. Process optimization around packaged applications like SAP or Oracle ERP systems – e.g., a leading electronic components manufacturer in North America wanted to optimize their opportunity to order” process that touches an SAP ERP system. They used APD to visualize the existing process and then define optimization plans
  3. Migration to a newer version of a packaged application - Another client was considering migrating to a newer version of a packaged application (e.g., ERP, CRM). However, before they did that they wanted to understand what their processes looked like currently to make sure that what they implemented in the new version was optimal
  4. "Black box legacy application" – We have a financial services client that has processes that touch an existing legacy application but it is a black box to them. They are looking to migrate to a BPM platform but need to understand what is happening currently.
  5. Process improvement with BPM – For a majority of our clients that are embarking on a process improvement/ process optimization initiative, the first step is process discovery. APD sets the ground for process optimization. The visualized process is delivered in a standard format (XPDL) that can be continuously optimized using Interstage BPM.
  6. Lean Six Sigma initiatives – Lots of clients that we talk to have teams dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and are looking at their processes to eliminate waste, cut costs, and improve consistency in execution. APD provides metrics to zero in on areas for optimization.
  7. Compliance initiatives – Clients that are looking to comply with mandates. They need to make sure that current processes are in compliance with the mandate and if not, understand where the irregularities are.

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Is there any average length of time for an "agile" BPM project? For instance, most projects should complete inside of three months with follow up phases going for a year?

Three months is the most common length of time we hear from customers. This approach usually includes five weeks for discovery, followed by three development iterations of 2 weeks each. Additional time should be included for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) following each iteration.

What are the characteristics of BPM projects that should be avoided?

Don't try to attack the end-to-end process as a single project. Break end-to-end processes up into smaller pieces that can be automated individually and tied together over time.

Don't treat BPM or BPM Suites as just another integrated development environment (IDE). Organizations that succeed with BPM adopt it as a new way of doing business that emphasizes continual process improvement.

Don't put BPM just under IT or just under a particular business unit. In order to be successful, organizations should set up an independent BPM Center of Excellence that can establish governance and best practices, prioritize business processes, and discover and implement BPM solutions.

Can the APD process be applied to a business process flow vs. a business process performance in a Line of Business (LOB) system?

If the question is whether APD can be used to compare a corporate process flow vs. a process that is tailored for a specific LOB, then the answer is yes. We have seen several situations where companies want to either compare flows across business lines, across merged entities or across regions to identify best practices.

If the question is whether APD can visualize the process flow as well provide process performance metrics, then the answer is yes again.

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How was the process data (i.e. activity counts) generated for the APD project? Is this approach only feasible in an enterprise where a BPM (offering is in place)?

The Automated Process Discovery service leverages a patented software offering from Fujitsu. The tool correlates the different events in the system log files, "stacks" all the various instances of a particular process one of top of the other and visualizes that stacked representation. The tool counts the number of times a particular event occurs and displays that number on the process map.

The Automated Process Discovery tool can be used against any system database – it doesn't necessarily have to be a BPM system. In fact, most of the APD projects are "pre-BPM" to understand what is really happening in the organization. The output of the APD service includes a standards-based process model that can be further optimized using a BPM platform such as Fujitsu Interstage Business Process Manager.

In some cases you have multiple processes (e.g., multiple purchase approval processes from different business lines) that you want to standardize to a common process. How do you use this approach to identify that common target state?

For instance, the Automated Process Discovery service gives you the option to visualize the purchase approval process across different business lines and compare those processes. The APD tool lets you include metrics to determine the cost of a particular process route; it also provides cycle time information. The tool lets you compare the different approval processes to then arrive at the optimal process and establish best practices. We can also do comparisons over time to analyze the evolution of a process.

How do you deal with systems that don't have the required data elements for APD (ID, Name, Time Stamp)?

The ID and time-stamp are mandatory. The event name is not critical. In our experience, most systems have all the required elements for APD. However, there are some packaged applications that do not contain this by default. We understand that these can be configured.

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Can you elaborate a little on the techniques and tools used to visualize the process once the data has been extracted?

The Automated Process Discovery service leverages a patented tool that runs through the system log files, correlates the events that are logged, and then "stacks" the different instances to produce a visualization of the process. The tool has a slider scale that lets you narrow down the scope to see the most commonly traversed paths, the exception routes, the loopbacks, the repeated steps, and zero in on the bottlenecks. It also lets you compare different routes. It displays metrics such as the cost of each activity, the transition time between steps, and the standard deviation.

When you say that discovery can be done in 5-6 weeks does that assume that you have full time participation for the business process experts?

No, the business process experts are primarily required in the first few days to gather information around the business challenges and agree on the scope of the discovery process and towards the tail end of the project to discuss and analyze our findings.

Time boxing exercise is good for isolated systems. When it comes to integration with multiple systems, how does this fit in, as there are different stakeholders, many leads etc.

Actually, time-boxing is ideally suited for accelerating consensus when multiple systems and business units are in play. The key here is to constrain the time so that participants find a workable solution as quickly as possible. The reality here is that all organizations won't be able to get discovery done in a standard 4 – 5 weeks. The key is to look at your budget and draw a hard line in the sand for discovery and stick to it for all projects.

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Do units of Fujitsu use this tool internally? If so, what units do and do not use this?

The genesis of the tool is the result of Fujitsu's own process discovery efforts. Fujitsu's headquarters hired several outside consultants and spent several millions of dollars to figure out the company's own business processes. After six months of disruptive employee interviews and intrusive manual investigation, the consultants presented process maps that were six months old. The management group was not so happy with the money and time spent on the project and demanded that the internal team develop a tool for an easy and quick discovery of business processes. Examples of where the service has been used within Fujitsu:

  • Optimizing IT help desk operations within our managed services group
  • Optimizing manufacturing processes
  • Optimizing mobile phone production processes
  • Optimizing the procure-to-pay process within Fujitsu

How is the log file from the different systems translated and what technology is used here within APD?

The technology behind the Automated Process Discovery service requires the log files in CSV format. This is easily achievable from most systems. The tool then correlates events logged and then visualizes the process maps.

Where is the application data extract coming from and how do you define the data that is captured for extract (i.e. the touch points)?

The application data extract is from the underlying database. The exact data that needs to be extracted depends on the characteristics of the process that you want to analyze. This is one of the early steps in the discovery scoping exercise.

What are the common systems that are used to harvest data to allow APD to function?

We can get the data out using SQL or packaged application-specific queries. We can also use native log files (e.g., web log files).

Is this something that you train a company to use, provide them with the tools and leave them to their devices, or do you require a team to come in for each engagement?

Currently, the service is delivered through trained Fujitsu process experts. The direction is to offer the services via a SaaS offering for clients to manipulate the data on their own. In addition, we plan to roll out the technology as part of the Interstage BPM Suite.

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