by Leon Smiers published in SOA Magazine III

Companies delivering services to customers are all faced with the same high-level challenges.

  • How can we improve our services towards the customers;
  • How can we challenge the cost aspects;
  • How to deal with the new regulations imposed by the regulator;

These challenges impact the way the end-to-end delivery of the services to the customers is executed. There are a lot of informal end-to-end processes in organizations supporting the customer service services. These end-to-end processes are usually supported by scattered applications, email, spreadsheets and a lot of goodwill of the personnel involved. When compliance, regulations and/or customer demands are imposed on an organization, these end-to-end processes do not have the ability to comply with new demands due to lack of support from the current application landscape. 

In the financial, public and utilities market organizations are re-landscaping their existing application portfolio due to these higher compliance, regulations and customer demands. This re-landscaping is usually not an overnight exercise and can span multiple years. Case management can help to cross the bridge from the current landscape towards a landscape aimed at delivering these higher demands.

Let’s explain this with the process of complaints. This functionality is needed in any market where customer contact is present, and where due to increasing compliance and customer demands the bar needs to be raised to deliver better quality, such as delivering an answer within a given timeframe. The process starts when a customer, who is not satisfied, sends a complaint to the company
Leon1

The Complaint process is separated in two main parts, the triage, and the case execution.  

In the triage, the first contact moment with the customer, an assessment of the need for a service is investigated. After the decision to continue a series of activities is executed to resolve the complaint of the customer. The case is registered and a loop of assessing the work, investigations and interactions with the customer are executed. When both parties agree on a solution for the complaint the complaint case can be finalized. The execution of the case follows a predictable path as can be seen in the above picture. Some ‘areas of unpredictability’ are present in the Complaints process; these are related to time-out events, customer intervention and outcomes of the investigation and discussion. Each activity in the process overview can contain for instance human interaction, application integration, social media communication or scribbling on paper.

Leon2

 

Get in ControlLeon3

Get in Control

Often the starting point for improvement is that some systems are in place but that the existing landscape does not support the full end-to-end process, and does not have the means to fulfill compliance needs and full control of the process. The first step is to get in control by means of an umbrella type of application on top of the existing applications and processes. This enables control in the landscape and adds capabilities to measure the performance of the overall process and singular activities. The main questions that need to be answered in this phase are the following:

  • What are the (intermediate) goals in the overall process
  • Who are involved
  • What applications are involved and what are integration options
  • What human interaction (with no application support) is part of this process
  • What data is involved
  • What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and compliance regulations

Leon4Oracle Case management, and the supporting BPM and SOA suite, delivers functionality to manage the three key stages of the process, control, automate and improve in a fast and adaptive way.

The Oracle SOA and BPM Suite deliver fast support for delivering this first phase:

  • End-to-end control via Case management
  • Integration with existing applications, with the SOA Suite integration capabilities
  • Enable support for human interaction, via BPM processes
  • Measure progress via BAM
  • Oracle Case management is aimed at delivering end-to-end control across a hybrid landscape. One of the key features of Oracle Case management is the event driven nature. Every change during the lifetime of a case, such as finishing an activity, entering of a new document, closing of a milestone, leads to a new set of activities that needs to be done. All with the aim to reach one of the end goals, such as supplying a resolution for the complaint, in a controlled way.Leon5

    For an overview of Oracle Case management, see http://leonsmiers.blogspot.nl/2013/04/an-introduction-to-oracle-case.html and http://www.slideshare.net/leonsmiers/oracle-open-world-2013-case-management-smiers-kitson

  • As an example of a key functionality of Oracle case management, below an overview of milestone management in Oracle Case Management. A milestone signifies important activity completion points in the case progression and determine when a business goal or target is met.
  • Another important component is the Case User interface that gives a full overview of the activities, current, closed and still to be done, participants, documents and data included.

     


Automate

The Control phase delivers knowledge what areas are best suitable for automation. Automating part of the process can free up time for the complaint specialists to spend their time on more value added activities.

An essential step in completing this phase is that the Case management structure within Oracle Case Management acts as the constant controlling element, the processes underneath can change, the rules for finishing milestones can change, events can change and even the milestones can change, but Case control stays in place.

Leon6Improve the landscape

From the moment the end-to-end control via Case management is in place the improvement analysis can commence. Already during the control phase dashboards can be utilized, for identifying bottlenecks and delays in the process, enabling for root cause analysis and eventually supporting process improvement. This can be done via the out-of-the-box functionality within Oracle BPM, showing the activity logging with Business Activity Monitoring (BAM). One of the key new features of BPM 12.1.3 release is the ability to use BAM to measure KPI’s. KPI’s are created in Business Architecture projects, which is a new feature added to the process composer

Related material

One of growth areas for inclusion of case management on top of an ‘old landscape’ is the AppAdvantage topic that connects the world of (Oracle) ERP systems with Oracle Case Management / BPM. See also

http://www.capgemini.com/blog/cto-blog/2013/12/technovision-2014-process-is-the-new-app as part of the Capgemini TechnoVision series, and have a look at AppAdvantage at Oracle Open World this year https://blogs.oracle.com/fusionmiddleware/entry/focus_on_appadvantage_for_oracle1

 

Léon Smiers

Léon SmiersLéon Smiers works as a Solution Architect for Capgemini The Netherlands in the area of Oracle Technology and Architecture, where he is one of the leading Oracle specialists. He has done a lot of work and research in the field of Integration and new technologies, like RFID, SOA, EDA and BPM, on which he wrote articles and presented on international conferences. Currently Léon is setting up Solution Architectures for large Oracle based projects and is Oracle BPM Thought leader for Capgemini. Based upon his close cooperation with Oracle development and product management Léon was awarded with the Oracle ACE title in 2010.

Léon is co-inventor of the Common Reference Architecture mode or CORA model, which helps in getting control over the IT landscape in a Hybrid environment and delivers a predictable, repeatable and risk-aware solution design (http://www.coramodel.com).

Prior to Capgemini Léon worked for Ernst & Young Consulting, USoft, the City of Rotterdam and has over 20 years of experience in IT. Léon obtained his Master of Science in Astronomy at the Leiden University

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