Business Process Patterns Project

This project proposes an original idea for business process redesign based on the concept of process patterns. These are architectures or structures ­activities connected through physical and information flows­ derived from theoretical concepts about how a good process design should be, best practices widely published in the literature and a vast experience ­with hundred of cases­ of business process redesign performed on a wide variety of real situations by the author and associates. Business process patterns can be derived at several levels of detail, constituting a hierarchy. A the top we have four patterns ­called Macro1 to Macro4­ that abstract all business process that may occur in any organization. For example, Macro1 is a general structure that provides a pattern for all processes related to the production of any good or service in any type of business. This idea has been thoroughly tested by successfully applying the pattern Macro1 to many cases not included in its derivation to generate redesigns; e.g. an application to health care services in a hospital, case never considered when Macro1 was created.

At a lower level in the hierarchy we have patterns derived from the Macros, by means of specialization, that give more detail about how a redesign should be in a domain, which is a subset of the cases abstracted by a Macro. For example, under Macro1 we have the domain of health care services in a hospital, and a pattern derived from it that gives specific details on how a redesign in such domain should be. In the same way more detailed patterns for subdomains can be generated, such us ambulatory health services, urgency heath care and the like.

It should be clear that patterns are normative in that they specify how a good design (redesign) of a process in a given subdomain should be.

Patterns explicitly include the rol Information Technologies ­data bases, workflows, analytical processing, middleware, expert systems, etc­ should play within the redesigned process. Also, having general patterns ­with clear requirements for IT­ makes possible the specification of general designs ­e.g. database or object oriented­ for the IT support for such a pattern. In turn this facilitates reuse of such designs in different applications of the pattern to specific cases. It is also obvious that, by applying the right technologies, not only designs can be reused but also actual code.

The patterns developed in this project are public and can be used by any one that considers them of value. We also encourage a collaborative improvement of existing patterns and development of new ones. This will allow the accumulation of knowledge about business process redesign in certain domains and subdomains that can be shared by many companies. This is particularly valuable for small and medium sized companies that cannot affort to hire in-house professionals or consultants that can redesign their processes. Large organizations that have many instances or replications of the same process ­public or private networks of health facilities, distribution and sales with many outlets, chain of services such as banks, food, insurance, etc­ can also benefit with the approach proposed, without making their own patterns public, which can be of strategic interest.

The public sharing of patterns makes also possible that software developers produce generalized software that can be specialized to support specific redesigned processes.

In order to make possible the public approach, this author is publishing and will publish all the patterns developed by him and his associates and also the ones submitted by other persons, after review for relevance and quality. The patterns are available through this web site.

The proposed ideas for process redesign by means of patterns have been massively tested in hundreds of cases. Currently there are large projects in healthcare and telecommunication services, where replication of the some processes in the tens or hundreds makes possible to provide just one pattern for each process to be applied in each of the locations.

Readers that are familiar with ERP software way wonder if our approach is similar to the one in such packages. Quite the contrary, we feel that ERP software has failed in promoting business process innovation and the professional literature is full of cases that prove this. So we have made sure that the focus of our ideas is on explicit business process redesign, the software being a consequence of this; make the openness and shareability of patterns the key to continuos improvement of them and the incentive for independent competitive software development for the same patterns; giving a solid theoretical and conceptual foundation to what a good process design should be; and, finally, providing an affordable way ­specially for small and medium sized companies­ for doing business process redesign.