We at Questetra receive many inquiries regarding business improvement from our customers.
Throughout those consultations, I have seen a lot of Workflows (Business flow, Business Processes), and some of them almost made me cry out “I hate this workflow!”
In this post I would like to discuss problems and ideas for improvement regarding one of those kinds of Workflows that would make me cry; a “Workflow that is merely processing in order”.
Workflows that Can Only be Processed in Order
Let’s consider the operation of “Product Development” in the online shopping business.
In the business, many “Assessments” are given to a product before it is listed in a product catalog. The product itself obviously should be good, and it should also get other assessments from the following perspectives:
- Trustworthiness of Producer: company/individual, neither a member of anti-social groups nor an excessive debtor
- Production System: stable production at a particular level and quality
- Logistics System: stable delivery to the customers
These assessments can be worked out as in the following workflow diagram:
When someone in charge of product development plans a new product, the three Assessment Tasks will be performed in order – “Assessment of Producer”> “Assessment of Production System” > “Assessment of Logistics System”. Before the Approval Task, all Assessment Tasks must have been completed.
The problem with this workflow is that the three Assessment Tasks are just processed one after the other.
Assessment of Production System cannot be started unless Assessment of Producer is completed – Assessment of Logistics System also cannot be done unless Assessment of Production System is completed.
If each of these three “Assessment” Tasks is independent, all “Assessment” Tasks can be started as soon as the “Product Development Planning” Task is processed. Despite that, if you can only process each “Assessment” Task in order, you will require a lot of time for the completion of the workflow from the “Planning” to “Assessment of Logistics System” Task.
You don’t like this workflow, do you? You want to start assessing as soon as the Planning Task has been done, right?
“Parallelize” each Assessment Task
If you can start all three Assessment Tasks at the same time as soon as the Product Development Planning Task is completed, that will help you shorten the time it takes to reach the Approval Task. Please modify the workflow diagram as in the figure below,
By adding changes to the workflow diagram like this, it will allow you to proceed with the three Assessment Tasks as soon as the “Product Development Planning” Task has been processed.
The green diamond-shaped icon (containing the “+” mark) – which is placed under the Product Development Planning Task – plays an important role.
It is called a “Parallel Gateway”.
This icon is where the Token that arrives from the previous Task is split into a number of different flows that have been set.
I will explain the improved workflow diagram.
At the Product Development Planning Task, the Token passes through a single pathway. When it passes through the “Parallel Gateway”, the Token is split into a number of paths that have been set. In this case, the number of paths is three, so the Token is split into three flows.
The split Token will arrive simultaneously at the Tasks of Assessment of Producer, Assessment of Production System, and Assessment of Logistics System.
The Icons for Merging Tokens
Now the Operators can start handling three Assessment Tasks at the same time thanks to the three split Tokens.
On the other hand, all split Tokens must be gathered and merged before reaching the “Product Development Approval” Task.
A green diamond icon is placed after the three Assessment Tasks and before the Product Development Approval Task in the workflow diagram. This is called a “Join Gateway”.
A “Join Gateway” is where the split Tokens are merged into one Token.
At this time, the Tokens wait at the “Join Gateway” even if, for example, they have passed through Assessment of Producer Task and Assessment of Logistics System Task ahead of Assessment of Production System Task.
When the Assessment of Production System Task is processed and the third Token reaches the “Join Gateway”, the Tokens are merged and move to Product Development Approval Task.
The Significance of Parallelization
The significance of parallelization of the Workflow Tasks that were previously processed in order is – as has already been briefly mentioned – that you can undertake them more quickly.
In the figure below, for a non-parallelized flow (Single Flow), the time T1 required to do both Task A and Task B is Ta + Tb. On the other hand, in a parallelized flow (Parallel Flow), T2 is either Ta or Tb.
T1 > T2 and parallelization of the flows reduces processing time. This means that D (Delivery Time) in QCD is shortened, so it can bring great value as a method of business improvement.
A Workflow System Which Maximizes the Worth of Parallelization
Parallelization becomes most valuable in a workflow system like”Questetra BPM Suite“. (of course, just writing a workflow diagram also gives you a particular value.)
With a workflow system, you can easily build a mechanism in which a Token automatically flows as specified in a workflow diagram. As you simply draw a workflow diagram that includes a “Parallel Gateway” and a “Join Gateway”, it automatically builds a mechanism where a Token is split at the “Parallel Gateway” and merged at the “Join Gateway”.
The workflow system “Questetra BPM Suite” allows you to experience these things for free, so if you’re interested, sign up for the free version (Starter Plan). The environment is built immediately.
Thank you for reading!