REVIEWER: Bruce Lawrence, group network manager for Liquid Controls.
BACKGROUND: Liquid Controls, a division of IDEX Corporation, provides high quality flow meters and accessories for accurate liquid measurement in both custody transfer and process control applications. The company serves a variety of industries from refined fuels, aviation, cryogenics, foods and fertilizers.
PLATFORMS: Windows 2008 Server, SQL 2008 Server, Windows XP and Windows 7 clients.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We wanted to find a BPM tool that would help us develop electronic, rules-based workflows, enabling us to automate manual processes and provide increased visibility into existing business processes. We needed a solution that would allow our users to work with forms that could be as dynamic as our business processes themselves and could also be modified to reflect changes in those processes. Because our users work on many types of documents that involve multiple levels of approval, it was important to find a tool that would provide version control, track forms and documents, ensure seamless information access to both employees and our auditors and would have an interface that would be easy to learn. BP Logix Process Director has helped us to automate our business processes, proactively handle conditions associated with workflows, as well as to analyze and improve business processes.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With Process Director, we are able to create the workflows and forms required to support business users across accounting, quality assurance, engineering and HR. I always have a queue of people asking my team to respond to requests. Many of the requests that IT receives are for adjustments to the workflows; these can now be handled quickly with drag-and-drop functions in the product. Process Director’s graphical interface enables us to avoid the burden of coding new projects and changes to existing projects. Process Director enables us to provide the output of a development shop without the overhead of one. Instead of building custom .NET applications, we were able to implement them in Process Director faster and more flexibly. Our initial projects for Process Director included processes for quality assurance, engineering (change control) and finance (capital expense). We are also using Process Director for a sales order process application that allows the sales manager to see the current order workload at a glance. Specific benefits include increased visibility, accuracy and efficiency, reduction of IT maintenance time, and faster and more accurate decisions on running processes.
STRENGTHS: One of the primary strengths of Process Director is the ease with which business users can create electronic forms and workflows without having to do any coding, along with the user–friendly interface. Other powerful capabilities are the controls and rules/conditions builders, and Process Director’s ability to integrate with our IT infrastructure (email system, portal, file systems and databases). The built-in document versioning and ability to export/import between environments is excellent.
WEAKNESSES: User administration within the product could be a little smoother. While the product integrates well with Active Directory, there may be some gaps to be filled where end users will be empowered to delegate tasks based on their own rules and decision logic.
SELECTION CRITERIA: BP Logix met all our criteria. It had to: have the ability to operate in a Windows environment and be browser-based; enable IT to build processes with minimal scripting; provide a standard platform; ensure data integrity, security and version control; offer APIs to trigger workflows from outside the tool; and be competitively priced.
DELIVERABLES: One of our indirect goals is to eliminate paper processing so that all outputs are electronic. These include electronically signed forms showing who signed off at the end of a process. For each project, there is also flexible query output that can be exported to Excel. With Process Director, it is far easier to comply with our annual Sarbanes-Oxley and ISO auditing processes. For ISO certification, our procedures must be available to all people who need it – and changes must be approved and recorded. Auditors can quickly access the information they need, and the approvals are easy to produce.
VENDOR SUPPORT: BP Logix support is prompt and knowledgeable. They enabled us to build and deploy our first forms and process them quickly and easily. They provided examples that helped us to validate how their software would enable us reach our goals.
DOCUMENTATION: The installation, implementation and user guides are thorough.
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