Harness Mobile BPM to Accelerate Business Process Improvement

Most of Appian’s clients start thinking about how to use (Business Process Management) BPM in their operations long before they actually pull the trigger to get started.  It’s always interesting to hear the story about what gets them over the hurdle.  Often the decision is driven by a process problem that suddenly became painfully evident.

I heard a great one of those stories last week.  As the economic recovery gains momentum, we’re seeing hiring pick up, and even some heated competition for key people.  The triggering event for this organization was a slow HR process for approving a job offer with a salary above normal guidelines.  It was slow enough to cost them the candidate they really wanted.  While she really wanted to work for this company, the time delay in their process prevented them from making a formal offer in time.  She took a position at a different company that moved much faster.

Speed of processes is clearly important.  HR is just one example, and a small one at that.  CME Group just went live with an Appian-based new product introduction process that’s core to their business.  Being able to get all required internal and external approvals needed to launch a new product even a few days faster can make a huge difference in their results.

So how do you improve process speed? BPM by itself clearly makes processes faster.  Having a clear process that automatically moves work from person to person is radically faster than managing through paper or even e-mail and attachments.  That’s been demonstrated by Appian’s clients time and time again.

Converting processes to BPM is good, but no longer good enough.  The key to faster process speed can be summed up in a single word – Mobile.  The growth of mobile and smart phones in particular is astonishing.  269.6 million mobile devices shipped in 2010 – a 55 percent increase over 2009 (source: IDC, “Worldwide Smartphone 2010–2014 Forecast Update: September 2010”). Gartner has predicted that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide by 2013 (source: “Gartner’s Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2010 and Beyond: A New Balance,” Dec. 2009).

To gain competitive advantage through process, your BPM applications must now be mobile enabled.  Many of today’s workers aren’t normally at their desks where they can read e-mail alerts and log into their BPM-based applications and take action.  But put those processes on their smart phones so they can take action wherever they are and watch process speed accelerate.

How would this really speed processes? Let’s look at another example from Appian’s Deductions Management solution.  Sorting out whether a deduction taken by a customer is valid or not usually requires a lot of people from different functions such as finance, sales, distribution, and warehouse.  Your finance team may be at their desks all day, but sales will be on the road and the warehouse team will be busy putting shipments together.  When finance notes a deduction, they may route it to the warehouse team.  If the warehouse team can’t resolve or approve it, they may push it to sales.  If everyone has to take action on these from their desks, the cycle time could take several days.  But if everyone is enabled to take action in a secure process on their smartphone, the cycle time could be cut to minutes.  Avoiding long approval cycles really matters as even unwarranted customer deductions can end up as write offs if you can’t resolve them in a timely manner, directly impacting your bottom line.

This all sounds great, but enabling BPM applications on mobile platforms is hard, right? Not with Appian!  With our newest release, enabling your application to work on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry takes just a simple click in a checkbox in our process modeler.  There is zero additional development time or cost.

Time to speed up all your processes, hit the road, and leave your competition in the dust.

Evan McDonnell

Vice President of Solutions