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A Modus21 Case Study
A case study of how Modus21 implemented a commercial Business Process
Management Suite for InComm to automate concept-to-cash implementation of client
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Modus21, LLC InComm Case Study Page 1 of 13 Contents Introduction
Vendor and Tool Selection
Modus21 is a business-technology consulting firm with 10+ years of Business Process Management (BPM) implementation and integration experience. We remain unbiased and software agnostic. We do not sell or resell software, rather we leverage our expertise to help organizations improve their business performance through the implementation of process and technology.
Modus21, LLC InComm Case Study Page 2 of 13 Introduction This case study reveals how InComm, an innovation and market leader in payment technologies and solutions, addressed scalability challenges via implementing an iBPMS. To put InComm’s growth in perspective, they have grown from a garage-based company to one with an international footprint in just over twenty years. InComm has more than 450,000 points of distribution, 500 brand partners and 1,800 employees globally. To support an acceleration in growth, due to an explosion in the pre-paid gift card market, InComm needed to improve operational efficiency through better information management tools and automation; effectively eliminating their dependence on labor intensive, error prone manual processes.
To address these objectives, InComm chose the Living Systems Process Suite (LSPS), from Whitestein Technologies, to transform processes that support the planning and delivery of the products to retail outlets. The solution manages the complex process of planning and product development using a data driven, case management-based approach. Further, the application integrates into existing systems that provide product data, retailer data, and test/validation services. Robust support for web and mobile users, integrated Business Intelligence, goal driven workflow, and a familiar technology stack, were key features that led to InComm’s selection of the LSPS.
This case study is structured as follows – first, it provides additional contextual background and understanding of the goals InComm and the project team set. It then presents details of the Agile vision and roadmap for the solution. This discussion is followed by an examination of the threephased transitional macro-process diagrams that illustrate the evolutionary approach taken to delivering the full capabilities while not interrupting ongoing operations. The benefits from the solution implementation are then covered. Finally, the last section concludes with a summary of lessons learned.
Modus21, LLC InComm Case Study Page 3 of 13 Background Since its inception in 1992, InComm has grown to become the world’s leading provider of stored value gift and prepaid products, services and technologies. InComm's retail network features most of the premier brands in the big box, grocery, convenience, chain drug, discount, electronics, office supply and other categories. The organization has grown rapidly and scaled its operations using readily available office productivity tools such as Microsoft Excel and email.
Like many organizations that grow organically without supporting enterprise technology, growth can only be facilitated via the addition of human resources. This significantly undermines the value proposition of growth by pinning it to a commensurate growth in corporate expense and liability.
InComm desires to continue its growth in the most effective and efficient manner possible. To that end, InComm undertook an effort to facilitate process optimization and automation.
Importantly, senior leadership supported this activity given that the implementation effort would follow Agile development practices. This decision was made in an effort to mitigate the risks associated with the development and deployment of a system that would not be adopted by its user base.
InComm set out on a mission for process improvement, determined to achieve the following
Process optimization and automation Legacy and third party systems integration Decision support utilizing BI reports, dashboards and real-time monitoring Automated notifications and task escalation Elimination of unnecessary manual activities and tasks Remote access for sales and product teams to perform review and approvals Establishment of its Master Data Management System as the sole authoritative data source for merchant and product data External monitoring capabilities for internal customers Automation of work assignment and prioritization based upon business data The project focused on eliminating waste due to manual activities and methods (e.g., email, sneakernet, distribution of spreadsheets, etc.) for supporting information flow and status of specific projects and tasks. After careful consideration of multiple implementation proposals, InComm selected LSPS as the solution platform and Modus21 as the integration partner for the effort.
Modus21 provided core capabilities in Macro Process Analysis / Business Process Analysis, Systems Engineering and Organizational Change Management for this effort. Modus21’s project implementation team ranged between 3-5 resources during the project and followed its industry recognized implementation methodology, which incorporates a unique process analysis and decomposition approach, coupled with best practices around Agile solution development,
organizational change, and program management. The methodology is depicted in Figure 1:
Modus21, LLC InComm Case Study Page 4 of 13 Figure 1: Modus21 Project Methodology The solution, named LaunchIT by InComm, was delivered into production use within nine months of the project kickoff and substantially transitioned within 15 months to organic InComm support. During the project, the team delivered demonstrable product increments to the client every two weeks for review and managed three major releases and three minor releases into production. Additionally more than 400 users on five continents were trained and an internal team of four support resources were trained and mentored to provide ongoing support. InComm’s LaunchIT solution received recognition for this work by winning an award at the 2014 Global Awards for Excellence in Business Process Management and Workflow sponsored by the Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) and BPM.com.
Vendor and Tool Selection LSPS The Whitestein LSPS tool has a proven capability of supporting rapid model based development, while still providing flexibility to support changes in business process with relative ease. Due to the cyclical nature of InComm’s business, it was determined that a phased agile development of the solution would provide the best combination of speed and feature delivery. The LSPS tool allowed the implementation team to add layers of complexity on top of already existing workflows, as well as the ability to change workflow as changes were made to business operations.
One of the critical pieces for success of the LaunchIT solution would be the ability to integrate with a multitude of existing, as well as in-development, InComm systems. At the time of analysis InComm was in development of a master data management platform, MDM, designed to alleviate the risk associated with bad product or merchant data. Because MDM is a web based platform, the ease of development using web API’s in the LSPS tool became a major factor in the selection.
Modus21, LLC InComm Case Study Page 5 of 13 Modus21 Based on a combination of an industry reputation as a leader in Agile development of BPMS solutions and proven success with the LSPS tool, Modus21 was chosen to lead the development and implementation of the LaunchIT solution. Previous projects led by Modus21 highlighted their ability to deliver solutions of this magnitude as well as the ability to understand and tailor solutions based on the intricacies and complexity of rapidly changing business requirements.
Ultimately Modus21 was selected as the implementation partner based upon presenting the best understanding of the problem, a clear plan and a methodology for how to deliver on that plan.
Solution Delivery To successfully implement InComm’s LaunchIT LSPS solution, Modus21 and InComm leadership jointly defined a strategic, three staged implementation plan. This plan would take InComm from the As-Is operations of the product launch cycle to the To-Be state, all the while not interrupting day-to-day operations and with consideration for peak-demand operational periods. Associated with these three phases was also a plan to ramp up InComm development resources to enable full ownership for the continued operations and sustainment of the LaunchIT application.
The team used Agile road mapping and release planning activities to establish feature epics targeted for each of the three phases. This was followed by progressive elaboration throughout the course of the project to define workable user stories for the joint Modus21/InComm development team. While the final feature lists delivered per phase were not identical to those defined per the baseline roadmap, Agile approaches allowed the team to adjust its trajectory and keep key stakeholders aware of the trade-offs in continuously shifting priorities.
Phase 1 Delivery The Phase 1 workflow implementation of the LSPS, shown at a macro-level in Figure 4, targeted a change in the approvals and management operations of the Launch Management process, addressing several of the common themes arising from user-groups’ primary requirements. A subset of the full user base would be first to migrate their processes into the tool, including Product Managers, Merchant Account Managers, Channel Managers, Finance and Launch Managers.
Several supporting processes would remain external to the tool, with those respective users continuing to manage work in disparate tracking tools such as Atlassian JIRA and Trello.
Approvals from managers representing their associated merchants and product partners formerly captured in spreadsheets would be captured in an auditable, collaborative workflow trail in LaunchIT. These users would be provided features to enable research and retrieval of product and merchant information from Master Data, fast creation of new launches, reporting on approvals required, and communication and negotiation between parties.
Figure 2: Phase 1 Macro-Level Product Launch Process Contrasting with previous operations, features were added so that Launch managers would be empowered to make decisions on late product additions to a launch. Merge logic was developed so that projects created later for the same merchants can be evaluated for addition to launches already in flight, given approval by the appropriate associated managers, enabling flexibility while maintaining accountability. Put another way, data (products) specific to one workflow instance (launch B) could be systematically inherited by another workflow instance (launch A) further along in the process, while also forcing launch B’s products to catch up to those in launch A. This was only achievable by also meeting further Launch Manager requirements.
The most complex element of the LaunchIT solution was in support of the portion of the workflow managed by Launch Managers, based on the unique and flexible manner in which these users requested to perform work. Typical BPMN limits the user to managing workflow for one entity. In this case, the entity is a launch, where a launch is specific to a merchant. However, for a significant portion of the process, the launch manager users requested to not be limited to working at the merchant level.