Core processes of enterprises are often complex and have many participants involved. Just think about an Order-to-Cash process including an incredible amount of possible variants, exceptional cases, etc.
Currently, both process participants and process owner only have limited insight into process efficiency and process quality.
Maybe you’re making ex-post analyses, e.g. with a data warehouse such as SAP BW. However, this approach is almost always data-driven, NOT process-driven.
In general, SAP BW only provide information about the past, not about the current situation because such systems are often not real-time and do not contain the most recent data.
Sometimes a BPM Suite such as SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration with a process engine and enterprise integration orchestration is used to execute, orchestrate and choreograph the processes. But such tools can only execute good formalized and structured workflows. In most cases they are not able to execute ad-hoc workflows.
What about a system offering visibility for your core processes independent from the products they’re implemented with, so you are able to analyze questions like:
- What are my process steps?
- How long did it take to complete them?
- Where is my critical process path?
- Where is manual interference needed?
- What are the weak spots?
- What is the overall performance of the process?
Let’s kick it up a notch: When speaking about performance of processes, you can even think of a new kind of decision support system. If a process participant gains insight into his current workload, e.g. his open sales orders, the system could give you real-time hints which orders are forecasted to be in time and which are critical to fulfill.
You can develop this thought further: if you can recognize patterns of process behaviour in the past, with predictive analytics operational decisions can be made better and faster in the future!
This is where SAP Operational Process Intelligence (short: SAP OpInt) comes in, a new product from SAP that offers all features mentioned above and thus can boost your processes’ efficiency.
We at CubeServ are one of a few partners from SAP worldwide attending the ramp-up (thanks to Dr. Harsh and his colleagues for the great workshop in Feb 2013), and I want to share our first experiences with you.
As the first ramp-up partner world-wide, we managed to develop a smoothly running SAP OpInt dashboard already in January.
But you can test SAP OpInt very easily on your own: SAP provides a great test-drive, just check this link: http://hanademo.testdrivesap.com/sapopint/
SAP Operational Process Intelligence generates pre-defined but customizable dashboards based on SAPUI5 for your business process automatically.
The process participant can see all process instances he created. In an Order-to-Cash process he is able to look at all open sales orders created by himself:
Please click on the image to enlarge!
Based on the status, he can focus on critical sales orders and initiate corrective actions in order to get these orders back on track.
The responsibles for single phases of the process can look at all critical sales orders in the enterprise:
Of course, you can restrict access to certain views or characteristic values via HANA analytic privileges. For example, regional sales managers can be restricted to sales orders from certain sales organizations.
SAP Operational Process Intelligence is based on SAP HANA and thus offering all advantages of in-memory computing.
It does not matter where processes are implemented: in ERP where process logs are generated via Process Observer (please have a look at this introductory blog), non-SAP systems, SAP NetWeaver BPM or SAP Business Workflow.
With SAP Operational Process Intelligence, you can import process definitions and their corresponding process logs from the systems involved in the process, i.e. information about start and end of both processes and their activities included.
In SAP HANA Studio, you can create a so-called business scenario for such a process, i.e. a business-oriented view on the
process. In this scenario, you define phases that can be evaluated later separately by the subprocess responsibles.
You can even combine process definitions from different systems into one business scenario.
Let’s take an Order-to-Cash process. You can divide such a process into phases like Order Entry, Pick&Pack and Invoicing/Payment.
Please click on the image to enlarge!
After having defined the business scenario with its so-called phases, certain KPIs are predefined automatically such as the cycle time for each phase.
Of course, you can also define further KPIs specific to your business process. These KPIs will be visible in the
performance view of the generated dashboard.
For KPIs like cycle time, you can define targets even by an attribute in the data model, e.g. different cycle times for customers depending on the customer’s country.
Now it’s time to let SAP OpInt perform magic:
Generation of several objects such as calculation views, REST-based OData services and analytic privileges takes place automatically. After giving roles to the process participants, the users can have a look at their dashboard without doing anything additionally!
SAP OpInt offers flexibility in a way that you can modify the calculation view generated before by joining any datasource to it.
For our Order-to-Cash example, you can join e.g. SAP ERP order header table (VBAK) and customer master data table (KNA1) to it. If you define sales organization, customer name and credit limit as output attributes, you will have these information included in the dashboard without any programming effort!
With SAP OpInt it is possible to establish a visibility of end-to-end processes like order-to-cash. The tool provides real-time monitoring of business processes. Especially for processes with customer contact it is extremely important to gain information about the state of each business case (for example customer order).
Furthermore, the tool can provide not only the current state, but also so called “look ahead alerts” with expected completion dates. This means further transparency for process owner and process participants and better ability to provide information to customers.
SAP OpInt is a tool “on top” of other systems and not tied to any particular application.
The process definitions from SAP Process Observer, SAP Business Workflow or SAP NetWeaver BPM are supported. This means that the processes or their parts can be executed in SAP as well as in non-SAP systems but monitored and analyzed in one single tool: both orchestrated workflows (SAP NetWeaver BPM and SAP Business Workflow) and built-in processes based on event-driven process definitions (SAP Process Observer).
With SAP OpInt it is possible not only to monitor the currently running processes, but also to report on completed instances and to access diagrams to recognize cross-time trends.
The data are presented as SAP tables which allow you to quickly develop the dashboards and to contextualise the instances which are presented on them. The dashboards and many Indicators are pre-defined, so that only a relatively
small implementation effort is needed.
SAP OpInt is a new product that can put more intelligence into the day-to-day running of the processes. With this HANA based approach which is perfect to combine OLTP and OLAP queries in one system, you can use SAP OpInt for gaining transparency of the processes across system boundaries.
The workforce on their own can drive and fine-tune the running of single process instances better than ever before.
SAP OpInt enables you to quickly develop dashboards offering both real-time monitoring and “look-ahead alerting” functionality in particular for critical process instances and indicators and diagrams for the completed instances.
After the ramp-up experience, we at CubeServ can honestly say that SAP OpInt can boost process efficiency to a new level.
End-to-end process visibility is not a buzzword anymore, besides insight-to-action is reached by the opportunity of creating tasks for other process participants or using business rules on HANA in future.
Words cannot describe just how awesome it is, you have to carry-out the test-drive mentioned above and form your own opinion.
For starting with SAP OpInt, I propose to have a look at Process Observer at first in order to define the activities in the SAP Business Suite needed for implementing SAP Operational Process Intelligence for your core processes.
For further questions or if you’re interested in Process Intelligence workshops, please contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or via LinkedIn.