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Will dynamic business process management and alerting help make manufacturers leaner?

Find out the benefits of dynamic business process management and alerting technology, and read a case study about how one organization implemented dynamic BPM.

Dynamic business process management (BPM) and alerting may sound futuristic, but it's not. This emerging technology area is being lauded by analysts, experts and manufacturers as a way to reduce manual processes, automate processes and a whole lot more -- all ultimately improving efficiency.

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So what is dynamic BPM software? Dynamic BPM -- or business process management and automation -- is a process automation solution that brings many functions together into one comprehensive software suite, according to Six Sigma Master Blackbelt Diane Lippman, CEO of Boynton Beach, Fla.-based Diane Lippman, LLC.

Manufacturers read data and take action such as generating a report or sending an alert, but they also affect the underlying data by writing back to a database or triggering some other type of event or action. With dynamic BPM, workflows are created and dependent processes automate tasks that would otherwise be done manually; and with dynamic BPM, manufacturers can easily launch SQL Queries, launch .exe applications, post to webpages or run custom .NET code using the VB.NET or C# runtime language.

But perhaps the most interesting part is what it can do for your business -- and your bottom line. Experts say the core functionality that drives manufacturers to dynamic alerts includes the ability to:

  • Facilitate communication and notifications about where an order is in the production cycle.
  • Monitor inventory and automatically notify suppliers or production managers before inventory levels get too low or run out.
  • Monitor sales orders and send automatic emails to customers or wholesalers as orders are placed or fulfilled.
  • Monitor data input for irregularities or errors and automatically notify production managers when issues are identified.
  • Automatically generate and deliver production and accounting reports.
  • Automate communication between customers and suppliers, such as electronic delivery of invoices, sales orders and purchase orders.
  • Analyze, share and distribute data across multiple systems and databases.
  • Extend the life of older ERP/manufacturing systems without the need to implement a new system or expend a lot of capital.
  • Implement EDI processes quickly at a fixed cost without the need to outsource this functionality and pay ongoing fees to third parties in perpetuity.
  • Automate processes, reduce errors, minimize risk, save time and ultimately save money.

Dynamic business process management helps TRL reduce errors, manual input

The potential benefits of dynamic BPM sounded good to TRL Systems, a regional provider and installer of security and alarm systems for commercial enterprises. As a component of its business, TRL captures a high volume of various types of data, including customer data, vendors, jobs, contracts, purchase orders, service agreements, invoices and budgets. Much of TRL's data input was manual and susceptible to human error. Mistakes either went undetected until it was too late or had a negative impact on financial data, at which point considerable effort was required to find and correct the errors.

To solve these problems, TRL Systems considered a couple of different alerting solutions, including custom development options, but in the end selected Ei Dynamics, an Eagle, Idaho-based business intelligence monitoring and alerting software vendor.

"We selected Ei Dynamics because unlike some of the other alerting systems we considered, this solution not only worked with our core accounting system but could also work across all of our other third-party applications, including various internal custom databases," said John Janosik, CFO of TRL Systems.

TRL is using the software to monitor its data input across all modules and systems and to ensure that key information is entered consistently and correctly. If any errors are identified, the technology automatically notifies the appropriate individuals within at most one business day, so problems can be fixed and addressed in a more timely and efficient manner.

The nature of TRL's business requires a tremendous amount of document routing and approval. While the accounting system does a good job of capturing and tracking the information indicating whether a contract has been approved or whether inventory associated with a purchase order has been received, the system does not have a good mechanism for electronically notifying employees that a contract is ready or waiting to be approved or that an inventory item has been received in the warehouse.

Consequently, TRL implemented workflow capabilities to handle document routing and approval. The new system ensures that appropriate individuals are made aware of the status of a document or item in the system as it is processed through its various lifecycles and stages.

"The workflow and notification features are invaluable and now ensure that key individuals -- whether in the field, in our warehouse or in the office -- all know where things are in the business cycle, thereby creating more accountability and visibility at all levels in our organization," Janosik said.

Dynamic BPM is just one kind of technology that organizations are using to get lean. In my next columns, we'll look at some other new methods that are changing the game for manufacturers.

About the author: Thomas R. Cutler is the president & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based TR Cutler, Inc. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of 3,500 journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, and the Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 300 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler is also the developer of lean technology C.E.O. (Continuous Experiential Optimization). He can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com.

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