The Business Operations Platform externalizes the control of processes away from individual applications. It makes them equal peers, subjugated to the Business Operations Platform layer that controls the execution of the processes, the provision of services, and the delegation of tasks or activities to the individual applications according to their specific uses and needs.
– Peter Fingar, The Business Process Platform in the Sky
In the future of work, employees must be empowered to operate at their full potential, and this requires a workplace that has freed itself of unnecessary and debilitating boundaries. It is only then that companies can hope to meet the business challenges of the fast-changing global economy.
– Cognizant, Future of work enabler: Worker Empowerment
A playbook is like an overall game plan in football. As in any sport, rather than trying to define all the ways the game will be played, you outline the properties and behaviors of the players and systems so they know how to behave when different “plays” come up. Things can be changed on the fly if necessary, and approvals, cooperation and exceptions are built into the process.
A playbook spells out the roles, responsibilities, and expectations for every participant, and lays out all the possible activities, paths, and resources.
Make your workflows more efficient by implementing workflow rules.
There are sometimes things that can’t be changed, like breaking the law by going faster or ignoring other rules of the road.
Xpeditor provides mechanisms to selectively restrict change to flows. With the potential for serious missteps in the execution of flows, organizations need the balancing capability to lock down certain steps in their flows, ensuring compliance on the one hand, enabling goal-centric behavior on the other. This provides flexibility while still ensuring control where variations are not permitted.
Many complex systems are based on simple rules. A set of several simple rules leads to complex, intelligent behavior, while a set of complex rules often leads to dumb and primitive behavior. There are many examples of this.
Flocking geese follow a simple set of rules when flying in formation: don’t bump into each other, match up with the speed of the other geese flying by, replace the lead goose when it gets tired, and always remain with the group.
From these few simple rules, a complex and efficient flying pattern emerges.
The point is that workflow rules are used sparingly in Xpeditor compared to what you would find in traditional BPM. There is no attempt to nail down each possible path or every possible exception. This provides the individual participants a large degree of autonomy, while reaching the group’s objective efficiently under many different circumstances.
There are 3 types of workflow rules that can be included:
The trick…is to introduce bits of automation that will fit into the work and do useful things, and then make it possible for people to work with those bits of automation embedded in the systems while leaving them the discretionary space to exercise the kind of judgment they need to exercise to really get the work done.
– Derek Miers – Process Innovation and Corporate Agility (2007)
Start defining your workflow automation steps today!
A step is a unit of work; it identifies an activity or task(s) that needs to be done before the flow can move forward. Steps are explicitly defined and operationally independent units of functionality. Each flow consists of multiple steps, and a single step can be in multiple flows.
Workflow automation steps are a complete unit of work
Workflow automation steps are not executed until its pre-conditions are met, and is not completed until it satisfies the rules for completion.
In today’s business environment, project management has never been more critical to the success of enterprise ventures. Using project management methodologies, teams can keep an eye on the risks, scope and tasks associated with projects.
And while solid methodologies have helped complete large and intricate project for years, even small projects now have significant complexities and integrations inherent in their execution. As a result, the number of software tools specifically geared to help keep projects on track and help project managers get a handle on all of the moving parts has exploded. With so many choices, it’s hard to decide what the best tool is for an organization. CIO’s article on the subject, 11 Tips to Get the Most Out of Project Management Software, provides some guidelines, but 4 items in particular stand out:
Do a needs analysis: know what you’re tracking and what kinds of project will be managed with the tool
Consider a cloud-based service: Cost of ownership and deployment are two critical factors to consider when adopting a new tool, and cloud based tools frequently come out on top of those comparisons
Consider scalability: as your company grows, so will the number of users of the tool and the complexity of what’s being tracked with it
Integration with core apps: If your organization already had mission critical applications in use, your project management tool will be more useful, and experience faster acceptance, if it integrates with those existing applications
The last point, in particular, can make or break the adoption of your new toolset. This is especially true if your organization is heavily – or even moderately – invested in the Salesforce platform. Because Salesforce can house your client data, project information and even facilitate team collaboration, it makes sense to use a project management tool that can incorporate that information and minimize the need for duplicate, and inevitably mismatched, data and communication.
There are two types of project management tools that work with Salesforce – ones that integrate with the platform, using their own controls and establishing connections between Salesforce and their application, and ones that are applications that live inside the Salesforce ecosystem, adapting the common controls and leveraging the familiar tools that are part of the platform.
Below, we look at some of the most popular examples of each type as well as look at a tool that can elevate your project management to the next level.
Project Management Tools that Integrate with Salesforce
A number of project management tools in the market today stand separate from existing platforms like Salesforce. These applications allow users some flexibility with the outside tools that they can integrate with, perhaps offering connections not only to Salesforce but to accounting packages, time tracking and other business applications. One point to keep in mind when investigating tools that provide connections to outside applications – maintaining multiple integration points across your enterprise landscape can backfire, creating more work for your support teams, not less.
With these caveats in mind, you may still feel that a standalone solution will satisfy the requirements of your organization’s projects. Here are a few of the top contenders to consider that will integrate with Salesforce and a number of other applications as well.Wrike
Billing itself as “all in one collaboration software”, Wrike goes beyond project management, offering solutions for marketing, creative and product management teams in addition to the project management tools. While some companies may appreciate the range of tools available under one roof, others may find that they are only using a limited set of what’s available. The project management application itself, however, has all of the features you’d expect from the tool, including Gantt charts and resource management boards.
To integrate Wrike with Salesforce, you must request the integration instructions from the Wrike team through your Salesforce interface. Once set up, teams can be siloed but have access to project information. For Salesforce authorized users, Wrike tasks can be assigned and the status of tasks can be viewed all without leaving Salesforce. For project teams that don’t have Salesforce access, tasks can be worked on as assigned and updated within Wrike.
A step is a unit of work; it identifies an activity or task(s) that needs to be done before the flow can move forward. Steps are explicitly defined and operationally independent units of functionality. Each flow consists of multiple process steps, and a single step can be in multiple flows.
This is a list of process steps characteristics:
Step initiation depends on prerequisites being satisfied
Process steps get initiated until all the prerequisites are satisfied (though this can be manually overridden by clicking a “Proceed” button and giving a reason). A step doesn’t get started until someone has been notified that it needs to be done.Steps surface in the responsible party’s activity feed
Instead of the user going from application to application to complete their process steps, the process steps appear in the user’s activity stream. For example, if a manager needs to approve a service request, instead of going to the service management application, the request will simply show up in their activity stream, along with any associated notes, attachments and a direct link to the record being acted upon.
Steps can be adapted to the prevailing conditions
The sequence in which a step is executed, and the rules by which it is governed, can differ from flow to flow and flow instance to flow instance. Users can spawn additional steps as they are being performed – these can be assigned to someone else and must be completed or canceled before the parent task can be completed.
Steps include just-in-time guidance
Employees need information quickly – they can’t wait for colleagues to email them back and they may not all be in the same office to speak in person. Acquisition of knowledge in a fast-paced, complex world becomes less important than the ability to search, create, and manipulate information to generate knowledge on demand and just-in-time learning. The best way to visualize this is to recall the movie The Matrix, in which revolutionaries trying to free an enslaved human race are hard-wired for data downloads. When in need, characters bark out their knowledge needs to colleagues who download the appropriate information – from driving directions to kung fu.
Guidance can be localized for different languages, and improved on the fly, as the instructions are being given. Poor guidance can make a simple task hard to perform, while great guidance can simplify a complex task.
Steps are a focal point of collaboration
Normal people can and will innovate of their own initiatives if enabling conditions are present.
–A. Van de Ven, The Innovation Journey
Are you a Salesforce admin? Start process-driven application building.
The reason big new things sneak by incumbents is that the next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” This is one of the main insights of Clay Christensen’s “disruptive technology” theory, which observes that when a new product or service is introduced, it is dismissed as a toy because when it is first launched it undershoots user needs, but then tends to get better at a faster rate than users’ needs increase. How mainframe companies viewed the PC, or Kodak viewed digital cameras are obvious examples.
There is always great skepticism (admittedly justified, for the most part), especially on the part of IT, about whether end users are capable of developing their own applications beyond some spreadsheets and Access databases.
But this time it’s different. We have reached the perfect storm of conditions that will transform the landscape for end user application development.
Lowering the barrier
Given an appropriate set of tools and services, technically savvy business users can build situational processs by themselves.
– Mike Rollings (Gartner), Citizen Development: Reinventing the Shadows of IT
By engaging with end users and helping them help themselves, IT can accelerate the exploitation of new technology and help end users create competitive advantage and build closer links to their business peers, while managing the risks of EUAD (End User Application Development).
– Ian Finley, Research Vice President at Gartner
The key to making Salesforce Admins successful with building process-driven applications is to build a Process Competency Center. The objective of the Process Competency Center is to support business units as they build their own solutions, either on their own (with community support through the enterprise social network) or with support from other resources. The Process Competency Center makes available whatever users need to get their solutions built, as well as protect them from making mistakes, including things like legal infringements and security violations. Having a centralized or departmental situational process Process Competency Center also makes it easier for business units to share administrative and other service costs.
It includes the following functions:
Ideas for new solutions will spring from half-baked applications created by lay users who may start down the path toward a solution, but may lack the expertise to finish it.
–Mashup Corporations: The End of Business as Usual, Andy Mulholland, Chris S. Thomas, and Paul Kurchina
There are going to be times when users need someone with analyst skills to help them better define a complex Salesforce process. There are also going to be times when IT or third-party developers will need to be engaged to code some specific functionality for complex Salesforce processes.
This is the role of the Salesforce Process Engineer (SPE).
A Salesforce Process Engineer (SPE) is typically a Salesforce Administrator who has business analyst skills.
A Salesforce Process Engineer helps translate a user’s requirements into process terms, model the data needed to support the application, and help translate complex business logic. The analyst works with IT on behalf of users to secure access to corporate data as needed, and to work with users to write specifications for custom functionality.
The Seed-Evolve-Reseed CycleAn important aspect of the emergent methodology is the idea of seeding. The SPE would work with users in the following way:
- The SPE would basically seed the application with the user, helping the user put the first version in play.
- The user(s) would then evolve the application any way they like.
- There may be a point during this evolution where the analyst needs to get involved once more to reseed the application. Reseeding is necessary when evolutionary growth is no longer proceeding smoothly. It is also an opportunity to organize, formalize, and generalize information and application functionality created during the evolutionary growth phase so that it can be found and shared with others.
Xpeditor Selected as Aragon Research Hot Vendor in Business Process Management
Industry Experts Recognize Hybrid Processes and Project Management Platform
CHICAGO –(December 6, 2016) – Xpeditor, a 100% native Salesforce.com business process management (BPM) application, has been named one of the Hot Vendors in Business Process Management, 2016 by Aragon Research, a leading research and advisory services firm focusing on the workplace. The report highlights Xpeditor’s ability to manage both process and projects interchangeably.
In the report, Aragon Research’s Vice President and Research Fellow, Jim Sinur suggests that “the secret sauce in Xpeditor is its ability to handle many styles of processes and projects through dynamic process execution managed by rules or constraints. Additionally, the many unique visualizations can help process managers plus process participants watch and adjust process or projects dynamically.”
The report also highlights Xpeditor’s deployment flexibility:
For organizations already using Salesforce.com, the 100% native design plugs into Salesforce with zero integration requirements
For organizations not using Salesforce.com, Xpeditor is also available
“We’re thrilled to receive recognition for tearing down silos, improving process and project execution and getting work done. This notable industry recognition demonstrates the demand for a comprehensive work management platform,” said John Shap, CEO Xpeditor.
For more information about Xpeditor’s business process management solutions for Salesforce.com, visit: https://www.xpeditor.cloud/.
Xpeditor combines business process management (BPM) with project management to help enterprises better plan, execute, manage, scale, measure and improve complex processes as projects. Headquartered in Chicago, Xpeditor works with both startup and Fortune 100 companies across a broad range of industries, including media, healthcare, professional services, manufacturing, distribution, oil & gas, and finance.
# # #
Macon Raine, Inc.
Aragon Research Disclaimer
Aragon Research does not endorse vendors, or their products or services that are referenced in its research publications, and does not advise users to select those vendors that are rated the highest. Aragon Research publications consist of the opinions of Aragon Research and Advisory Services organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Aragon Research provides its research publications and the information contained in them “AS IS,” without warranty of any kind.