Visualizing Process, BP3 Style

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[Note from Scott Francis: At BP3 we’re always thinking about how to create more value for our customers via process-thinking.  More recently we’ve been applying some great insights with visualization, data science, and user experience design.  The intersection of these areas is an area of leadership for Ivan Kornienko, the author of this post and the Director of our UI/UX practice.

In a previous post – 7 years ago – I wrote on the topic of process visualization: “the reason this visibility matters is precisely because of the process context.  It is the lack of context that makes using existing BI and reporting tools challenging.”  It rings even more true today than it did 7 years ago, and Ivan and the BP3 team are doing a great job innovating in this arena. ]

The process model is a powerful tool for defining and implementing business processes. Still, it is not always the best way to visualize the process for users and stakeholders; it isn’t always the best abstraction to get our heads around. Modeling notations and process platforms have gotten complex. A single overarching process may cover dozens of sub processes, hundreds of human activities, and a myriad of other components supported by the process language. All this detail is obviously important for the process, but makes it difficult for the end user to understand how their contribution can lead to better process outcomes.

In this post, I’ll explore two use cases we often encounter with our customers. They necessitate simple visualization, void of the complete process definition, that better aligns with the needs of specific users. Our Brazos Platform, with its UI Toolkits and Analytics capabilities, allows us to build  these visualizations on IBM BPM, Activiti, Camunda, or ServiceNow.

Let’s take a look at a Customer Onboarding process example for a multi-national Wealth Management company.

  • Four major milestones:
    • Due Diligence – Gather client info and perform KYC (Know Your Customer) due diligence.
    • Terms Assessment – Complete risk profile and prepare agreement.
    • Agreement Management – Negotiate legal terms, execute agreement.
    • Product Setup – Setup accounts across product silos.
    • Activate.
  • 22 nested processes, tied together by a single overarching process
  • 110 human activities across the 22 processes
  • 300+ system activities, timers, complex gateways, etc

While important to the implementation, this is a lot for managers or end users to keep track of while completing their day to day work.

Specifically, we’ll focus on:

  1. Operational management analyzing last quarter’s results for Customer Onboarding and determining strategy for the next.
  2. Customers trying to figure out where they are in the Customer Onboarding process and how far they have to go to get onboarded.

Use Case 1: Operational Management

Operational Management needs to answer the following questions:

  1. How long did each milestone take?
  2. How long did each activity take?
  3. What are the bottlenecks?
  4. What set of circumstances have led to the bottlenecks?

Instead of diving directly into the process model, we can answer questions can be answered much more efficiently (and effectively) with the following visualization:

image01

  • The horizontal line represents the average duration of all process instances being analyzed.
  • The circles along the line represent the average completion time of each activity in the process.
  • The vertical bars are the average duration of each activity. This is a critical part of the visualization because many activities can occur in parallel.

When the user hovers over a given activity, the name, time of its completion, duration, and average occurrence is shown. In this example, the ‘Wait for Risk Rating’ activity occurred in 100% all instances currently being analyzed.

image03

Much like a pie chart showing the distribution of values for a certain property in a BI tool, this visualization is updated to reflect the data set being analyzed as filters for the view are changed. The below animation shows the visualization working inside of our Analytics solution. Clicking on an activity here, filters the view to only show instances that have had that activity.

image00

Use Case 2: for the Customer

For the customer, the process visualization needs are quite a bit different. Any financial advisor would agree that the most important part of relationship management during customer onboarding is not the speed of the process but the transparency to the customer of where they are and how long they have to go.

In order to fulfill the needs of the customer, the timeline visualization from above is further simplified and adapted to show the status of a single instance.

The key differences from the previous example are:

  • This visualization resides in the customer portal for the bank. (Desktop or Mobile)
  • The customer’s progress in the onboarding process is shown with green.
  • While the placement of completed activities represents their completion time, the future activities are drawn based on historical customer onboarding instances for the same products and any relevant customer data (e.g. location, net worth, etc).

image02

The analytics solution and customer portal from which the screenshots in this blog post were taken work with most process platforms such as IBM BPM, Activiti, Camunda, or ServiceNow. These visualizations were rendered from historical execution data, requiring little process-specific configuration or mapping.