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Road to ESA – The EPI Model Part 3A – Approach


In the web logs The EPI model part 1 and part 2, we explained the EPI model and how we use it into our workshops. In this part 3 we will explain the approach how to implement this model.
The objectives of the implementation are:

  • Improved, controlled and flexible processes
  • Easy access, user centric, task-based, one times right
  • Reduce IT and Business costs
  • Better cooperation, standardisation

To achieve these goals we have to implement the EPI model with the focus on the following three areas’:

  • Business
  • IT
  • Users


Figure 1, Areas’ of the EPI Model

The business is important because they are the owner of the several business processes in your company. IT is important because we use IT applications to support parts of these business processes. And last but not least the users, who will execute, monitor and control these business processes, is important as well

As we mentioned in the previous web log, we have to focus on the total business process in stead of focusing only on the business processes within the business applications. This is what we mean when we talk about end-to-end business processes or composite business processes. Within the composite process it is also very important to focus on the manual steps.

The processes in our company that do NOT run very well most of the time is very well known. The main reasons that they do not run well are:

  • these processes aren’t or are just partly supported by IT
  • lack of integration between IT applications to support processes in the right way
  • more departments are responsible for parts of the process
  • parts of the processes are outsourced
  • there is no total overview of the process available
  • no process owner is responsible for the execution of the complete process
  • no process analytics are in place to do some statistics over the performance of single process steps and over the complete process

To solve these issues and to achieve the objectives we can use the EPI model approach. This approach exists of four main parts:

  • Design cycle
  • Build cycle
  • Continuous improvements (release strategy)
  • Process control

Design Cycle

The design cycle starts with defining the composite process on different levels. On level 0 you define the overall End-to-End process. For example we can take the Hire-to-Retire process.
This end-to-end process exists of a couple of sub processes, the composite processes. We will describe those at level 1. For the Hire-to-Retire process this could be for example the composite processes: Recruitment, Hire, Promotion, Transfer and Retire.


Figure 2, EPI Composite Process  Level 1

At level 2 we model the different process steps within one composite process, for example Transfer. To identify the different steps we can use “user centered design” approach as describe in the SAP Press book “Designing Composite Applications” of Jorg Beringer and Karen Holtzblatt. The “user centered design” approach exists of revealing the work practice of individuals. It requires two things ():

Contextual Interviews

Collecting observational data about what people really do by watching people work and talking with people in the context of their daily life. Such field data is collecting from all the key roles that make a process work. This data reveals what is really going on across the organization.

Work Modeling

Techniques that describe the original field data in the form of diagrams or other notations to represent the structure of the work, complete with all the variation of the real business. These models show the high-level business process as it really is with all the actual breakdowns and opportunities to guide redesign. They also show the low-level detail about roles and tasks that allow for design at the lower levels.

The starting point this approach must be the existing Composite Process. Next we want to know for every step the assumed workload, execution time, the lead time and the existing known issues. We also want to known which users, manual steps and applications are involved, there role and waste time between two steps.

Now we have all information for our EPI model and can use this information for the Dartboard Approach. First we will optimize the Composite Process. Then for every process step we will look if user interaction is needed and if so, which kind of interaction (manual, standard front-end or customer develop front-end) we will use. We will look at the consequences for the user and the back office applications, the needed integration and maintenance cost and of course the ROI of existing infrastructure. Based on this we have to update our Composite Process.


Figure 3, EPI Design Approach

ARIS for Netweaver

We advise you to use the Aris Platform as business process management tools (e.g. aris Business Designer in combination with Aris for SAP NetWeaver) to design, describe and document the composite process and to embed related documentation. You can model the processes from Strategic (Level 0) via Tactical (Level 1 and 2) till Operational (Level 3) level in Aris. You can store and find the relations between the different levels. At level 3 you can also relate organization/roles (Users) and webservices/applications (IT), so this is the ideal tool for our EPI model.


Figure 4, Level 3 example in ARIS for SAP Netweaver


When you want to realize the EPI model, you have to control the build process. Because the EPI model is in the central area of the IT, Business and Users we have to involve all of them. Our starting point will be level 3 of the process model. We will make a representative copy of this into BPM of SAP XI for all steps involved, even if the step is related to a standard SAP transaction. For every process step we will build our own BPM step. With every step we update the monitor, creating a task for example into the Universal Work List or Employee/Customer Interaction Center for user interaction and control the modification through the exchange layer into the back-end systems.

After these development stages, we need user experience tests to investigate the user centric goals of easy access and one times right.
At the last stage we do a complete integrated process test between de 5 different layers of the EPI model.


Figure 5, EPI Build Approach

The different stages of the build approach will be repeated for changing for every release.
In the next web log ‘Road to ESA – The EPI Model Part 3B’ we will explain the Continuous improvements (release strategy) and Process control


The design and build cycles of the EPI model approach will help you identify your business processes from strategic till operational level and can be used to build a bridge between the Business, the Users and IT. It will help you to facilitate building Composite Processes based on business requirements, user experiences and existing or new IT systems.

Special thanks to Theo Bolta (NL for Business) and Diederik van Duuren (IDS-Scheer) for helping me writing this weblog.
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