Using the new features of IBM Business Process Manager V8.5 dashboards for for better views of your business processes

This article describes new functionality in the newly announced IBM Business Process Manager V8.5. The new version includes improvements to the Process Portal dashboards that enable users to get a clearer picture of their business processes.

Brian Venn (vennb@uk.ibm.com), Software Engineer, IBM

Brian Venn photoBrian Venn is the System Verification Test Team Lead for WebSphere Process Server, WebSphere ESB, and IBM BPM on z/OS. He has 15 years of experience in the software industry and has worked at IBM Hursley Lab in the United Kingdom since 2000. He is an IBM Certified Solution Designer for SOA Solutions and an IBM Certified Deployment Professional, and he has participated in the authoring of four WebSphere Process Server and WebSphere ESB certification exams. Brian earned a Bachelors degree in Astrophysics from Southampton University in the United Kingdom.


developerWorks Contributing author
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Richard Macauley (macauley@uk.ibm.com), Software Engineer, IBM

Richard Macauley photoRichard Macauley is a Software Engineer in the IBM Software Group, Application and Integration Middleware Software for BPM on z/OS. He has broad experience in embedded systems, both in Software Development and Electronics. Richard joined IBM in 2002 and worked in the Storage Group in both test and development roles prior to joining the IBM UK Hursley zOS BPM team in 2012.



Masaaki Komine (mkomine@uk.ibm.com), Software Engineer, IBM

Maasaki Komine photoMasaaki Komine is a Software Engineer working on the BPM on z/OS team at the IBM Hursley Laboratory.



19 June 2013

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Overview

Advanced and Advanced-only topologies

The Advanced configuration combines the functions of the WebSphere Process Server and WebSphere Lombardi Edition products, which were merged to form IBM Business Process Manager. The Advanced-only configuration includes only WebSphere Process Server functions.

An Advanced-only configuration provides the ability to configure a server to run only BPEL and WebSphere ESB processes. These configurations do not include support for BPMN processes, which results in a smaller footprint.

For more information, refer to this topic in the IBM Business Process Manager Information Center.

IBM Business Process Manager (BPM) V8.5 builds upon the existing implementation of social BPM that arrived in BPM V8.0. The social features enabled real-time collaboration among users working on the same tasks. In IBM BPM V8.5, the new built-in dashboards, together with the existing dashboards, make it easier for users to see a clearer picture of their in-flight business processes, which in turn enables users to make quicker, better informed decisions.

This article uses an example centered around a claims processing company to show the various dashboards and how each person in an organisation can make use of them. This scenario is running on a IBM z/OS® platform using a hybrid configuration. A hybrid configuration allows for the collocation of all resources on a z/OS server. The Process Center is running on Linux on System z®, as is an Advanced Process Server to run the BPMN flows and the various dashboards. An Advanced-Only Process Server is also included specifically to run BPEL and WebSphere® ESB flows. All these servers use the same DB2® v10 as the database. Figure 1 shows a high-level view of the scenario.

Figure 1. z/OS hybrid configuration
z/OS hybrid configuration

The hybrid configuration shown in Figure 1 allows for the collocation of key mainframe resources, such as DB2, IMS®, and CICS®. These in turn enable the configuration to take advantage of features such as DB2 Type 2 drivers and WebSphere optimized local adapters (WOLA). It also allows for the targeted distribution of applications to configurations that are more suited to the application workloads. Data intensive, high input/output applications that are more suited to the mainframe environment can be run on Advanced Only servers. Other types of applications, such as static HTTP, that are more optimal for distributed configurations can be run on an Advanced server on zLinux.

Overview of the process

Figure 2 shows the business process diagram for the claims process business process diagram (BPD) in IBM Process Designer.

Figure 2. Process diagram in IBM Process Designer
Process diagram in IBM Process Designer

For the sake of clarity, each step is numbered. An instance proceeds in the following fashion:

  • Data for a claim is entered by members of the claims submissions team (step 1).
  • Once submitted, the process moves to a system lane. The claim is logged and various audit and customer data is added via a BPEL flow running on an Advanced only server (step 2).
  • On returning to the BPD flow, the claim is then filtered on the claim amount (step 3). Depending the value of the claim, the process is routed along one of three possible paths:
    • If less than £1000, the claim is automatically approved via a WebSphere ESB flow (step 4) running on the Advanced Only server.
    • If greater than £1000, but less than £10,000 the claim is routed to the Claims Processing Team (step 5).
    • If greater than £10,000, the claim is routed to the Senior Claims Processing Team (step 6).
  • Each path leads to the Customer Notification Team, where the final task is completed(step 7).

Within this company, the tasks are worked on by different teams. The teams and their members are configured in an external LDAP server. These teams are:

  • Claims submission team
  • Claims processing team
  • Senior claims processing team
  • Customer notification team
  • Management team

Team assignment of a task is done in the Process Designer, as shown in Figure 3. Here the Enter Claim Data task is assigned to members of the Claims Submission team.

Figure 3. Team assignment
Team assignment

Manager assignment for a team is also performed in the Process Designer. Figure 4 shows an example of this.

Figure 4. Manager assignment
Manager assignment

Team Performance dashboard

The Team Performance dashboard is used to show an overall picture of how the various teams are performing with regard to their workloads. In this example, Ashley is a member of the management team, which is responsible for all other teams, and wants to know the current workload of each team. Ashley can get this information by logging into the Process Portal and opening the Team Performance dashboard, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Team Performance dashboard
Team Performance dashboard

In this dashboard, a task can be in one of three possible states. These are:

  • On Track
  • At Risk
  • Overdue

IBM BPM dynamically determines whether a task is At Risk by using the average time taken to complete the task and the task due date. For example, if a task takes an average of one hour to complete, and is due at 5pm, it will be moved to the At Risk state at 4pm.

Task breakdown by team

You can break down the task workload on a per team basis by clicking on a team name in the Team Performance dashboard, as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Individual Team Performance dashboard
Individual Team Performance dashboard

This dashboard has two tabs: Overview and Team Tasks. There are three sections to the Overview tab:

  • Quick Stats
  • Turnover Rate
  • Roster

Quick stats

The Quick Stats section shows a pie chart breakdown of tasks, grouped according to their state, along with a summary of Open Tasks and Tasks Completed Today, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Quick Stats
images/Process.jpg

Turnover Rate

The turnover rate maps New Tasks and Completed tasks against a scrollable timeline. The time line can be switched to show either an hourly or daily breakdown of task turnover rate. In Figure 8, you can see that a significant number of new tasks came in between 9am and 10am. A few tasks were completed by 12pm, then things went quiet between 12pm and 2pm, before picking up again by 3pm.

Figure 8. Turnover Rate
Turnover Rate

Roster

The roster lists all members of the team and orders them according to the number of open tasks assigned to the team member. It also indicates who is currently logged in to the Process Portal using a green dot against their profile, as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9. Roster
Roster

Team Tasks

The Team Tasks tab enables the user to keep track of tasks for a team. The active tasks are grouped according to their states and ordered based on due date, as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10. Team Tasks
Team Tasks

The display on the left provides a historical representation of the state of a teams tasks. In this example, you can see that some tasks went overdue on Tuesday, and there are a large number of tasks due on Wednesday that are currently on track.

From this dashboard, a user with the appropriate permissions can assign tasks to a specific user. For example, Ashley the manager is chasing up the overdue tasks. From here she can see that the instance Claims Process:20 has a task Enter Claim Data that is overdue, but no one is currently working on it. By looking at this single dashboard, she can determine who's currently assigned what tasks, what each person's current workload is, and who's currently logged in. Ashley can then make an informed decision as to who is in the best position to pick up this task, and assign it accordingly, as shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11. Assigning a task
Assigning a task

Process Performance dashboard

The Process Performance dashboard, as shown in Figure 12, presents a view of the processes that have been deployed to the system, and the current state of all instances currently in progress.

Figure 12. Process Performance dashboard
Process Performance dashboard

You can select a process from the Process Performance dashboard to get an overview of the process, as shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13. Process overview
Process overview

This dashboard has two tabs: Overview and Diagram. There are four sections to the Overview tab:

  • Quick Stats
  • Turnover Rate
  • Average Duration
  • Instances in Progress

Instance Quick stats

Similar to the Team Performance dashboard, this section shows a pie chart breakdown of instances by state along with a summary showing the number of instances in progress. It also shows the average time taken to complete an instance, which (as described earlier) is used along with the instance due date to calculate whether an instance is At Risk of going overdue, as shown in Figure 14.

Figure 14. Process Quick Stats
Process Quick Stats

Turnover Rate

The Turnover Rate is similar to the Turnover Rate on the Team Performance dashboard, but this time at an instance level. It maps instances against a scrollable timeline that can be toggled between a hourly or daily turnover rate. Hovering over a bar in the chart provides a pop-up summary, as shown in Figure 15.

Figure 15. Instance Turnover Rate
Instance Turnover Rate

Average Duration

The Average Duration breaks down an instance into its component tasks and shows how long on average each task takes to complete. Hovering over a given task provides a pop-up summary of average duration and occurrence percentage. This occurrence percentage gives a value of how many times that task has been run for all the instances that have been completed on the system, as shown in Figure 16.

Figure 16. Average Duration
Average Duration

In this example, you can see that the Process Claim Manually task occurred 31% of the time. So you can easily determine that for all claims, 31% of the workload went to the Claims Processing team, and hence these claims were between £1000 and £10,000 in value.

Instances in Progress

The Instances in Progress bar lists all instances in progress in order of age, starting with the longest running instance, as shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17. Instances in Progress
Instances in Progress

Process instances in progress

The Diagram tab shows the business process diagram with task status, as shown in Figure 18. This allows users to easily see the overall picture of how many instances are in progress, where they currently are, and what state they are currently in. This allows users to quickly identify any bottlenecks that are occurring in the instances, as shown in Figure 18.

Figure 18. Instances in progress
Instances in progress

A close-up view of one of the tasks, as shown in Figure 19, shows that the Notify Customer of Outcome task currently has two overdue, three at risk, and four on track instances.

Figure 19. Notify Customer of Outcome instances in progress
Notify Customer of Outcome instances in progres

Instance dashboard

Clicking one of the instances in Figure 17 brings up the instance dashboard, which contains two tabs: Diagram and Gannt.

The Diagram view shows how the instance is progressing, with the current active task highlighted by a yellow border, as shown in Figure 20.

Figure 20. Diagram view
Diagram view

The Diagram view shows the path the instance took, indicated by the blue line, and tags earlier tasks with a picture of who completed the task.

The Gantt view shows the schedule for the instance as a Gantt chart, as shown in Figure 21.

Figure 21. Gannt chart for an instance
Gannt chart for an instanc

The various tasks of an instance are laid out on the chart, tasks are colour-coded according to their state, and you can click them for further information. For example, Ashley is looking at why a particular instance look longer than it should to complete. From the Gantt chart for the instance, she can see that the Process Large Claim Manually task went red, indicating that it went overdue before it was completed. By clicking the task, she can displays details about who worked on the task, as well as timing information about the task, as shown in Figure 22.

Figure 22. Task completion information
Task completion information

In this example, you can see that it took Chris nearly twice as long to complete this task as the average.


Conclusion

IBM Business Process Manager V8.5 provides significant new capabilities for managing and monitoring your BPM processes. This article provided a working example of how the the new dashboard features and enhancements can be applied to a real world scenario.

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