Monitoring business processes by using tracking groups in IBM BPM V7.5

This article describes how to monitor processes deployed and running in IBM® Business Process Manager V7.5 using IBM Business Monitor V7.5. It demonstrates the emission of business events using tracking groups, a feature provided by BPM V7.5. The article also covers steps to configure dashboards to showcase operational views such as instance views, reports for analysis, and KPIs related to the process.

Smitha Venugopal (smvenugo@in.ibm.com), IT Specialist, IBM

Photo of Smitha VenugopalSmitha Venugopal is an IT Specialist with IBM Software Services for WebSphere (ISSW). She has over 10 years of IT experience, with a focus on business process management. She specializes in WebSphere Process Server, IBM Business Monitor, and WebSphere Business Modeler with strong experience in design, development, and deployment of BPM solutions. Her current focus is on WebSphere Lombardi.



Sateesh Balakrishnan (satebala@in.ibm.com), IT Specialist, IBM

Photo of Sateesh BalakrishnanSateesh Balakrishnan is an IT Specialist with IBM Software Services for WebSphere (ISSW). He has over 10 years of experience and is currently working on the BPM and BRMS track specializing in WebSphere Lombardi and WebSphere ILOG. In his previous assignment at ISSW, he worked on application infrastructure stream with in-depth skills in WebSphere Application Server, J2EE application migrations, and performance troubleshooting and tuning of WebSphere Application Server. He has worked in various capacities, including design and development of J2EE solutions. His current interests are BPM and BRMS systems.



10 August 2011

Introduction

IBM Business Process Manager V7.5 (BPM) represents the merger of IBM's WebSphere® Process Server and WebSphere Lombardi Edition into a single software offering. The high level business processes are modeled using IBM Process Designer, hereafter called Process Designer, with adherence to Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) standards. This article describes the use of IBM Business Monitor V7.5 (hereafter called Business Monitor) to achieve operational, analytical, and performance monitoring of the process.

For illustration purposes, Business Monitor has been installed on the same WebSphere instance and augmented on the Process Center profile. The authoring environment provided by Process Designer has been downloaded and installed from the Process Center console.

A Business Process Diagram (BPD) needs to be created in the Process Designer. However, for this article we will use the sample process shipped with the product.


Event tracking

The first step is to identify the data points of the business so that these are emitted as events to be consumed by the Business Monitor model at runtime.

In BPM 7.5, there are two ways of tracking data for monitoring:

  • To track specific business data automatically at entry and exit points of each item in the BPD, such as activities, services and gateways, use "autotracking".
  • To emit specific data at chosen points in the process for monitoring, use the Intermediate Tracking events in the BPD.

Autotracking

Autotracking is a method to track variables in which data points are tracked for each ordered step in a BPD. If a process author changes the order of the steps in the business process diagram or adds one or more steps, the custom report queries against the tracked variables do not produce expected results.

When autotracking is enabled for a business process diagram, data for any nested processes of that diagram are also tracked. Subprocesses and services inherit the setting of the parent process.

Tracking groups

Tracking groups are used when explicit control over tracked data and tracking points for advanced custom reports is desired. For example, you can group the variables you want to track by type, strategically place tracking points in your BPD, and track variables across multiple BPDs.

In this article, we have used a tracking group called “RequisitionTrackingGroup” to contain the event data.

Configuring the tracking group

  1. Create a tracking group by clicking the plus sign next to the Performance category in the library and selecting Tracking Group from the list of components. Name the new tracking group.
  2. For each process variable you want to track, add a field to the tracking group and specify the data type as shown in Figure 1.
    Figure 1. Tracking group
    Tracking group
  3. Add an intermediate tracking event to the BPD.
  4. Select the tracking event and open the Implementation tab in the Properties view of the tracking event.
  5. Associate the process variables you want to track as part of this intermediate tracking event as shown in Figure 2.
    Figure 2. Tracking event
    Tracking event
  6. Save the business process diagram.
  7. To emit events to Business Monitor, navigate to Setup > Process App Settings. Under the Properties section, select the Enable process monitoring through WebSphere Business Monitor checkbox as shown in Figure 3. This is an important step if you want to monitor the BPD using Business Monitor.
    Figure 3. Enabling monitoring through Business Monitor
    Enabling monitoring through Business Monitor
  8. Save the BPD and send these newly define tracking requirement to the data warehouse or business monitoring by clicking File > Update Tracking Definitions as shown in Figure 4.
    Figure 4. Update tracking definitions
    Update tracking definitions
  9. By clicking on Update Tracking Definitions, the monitor model application is installed and started on the server as shown in Figure 5.
    Figure 5. Monitor model application
    Monitor model application
  10. Check the status of the monitor model for any deployment errors. On the admin console, navigate to Monitor Models under Application Types to see the monitor models installed as shown in Figure 6.
    Figure 6. Monitor Model
    Monitor Model

    Ensure that the status of deployment is OK as shown in Figure 6, which means that all the life cycle steps have completed successfully. If not, you will see a deployment error in the status even if the model is started.


    Figure 7 shows the life cycle steps for the model.

    Figure 7. Life Cycle steps
    Life Cycle steps

Note: It is a good practice to check. For example, if you intend to use reports and the Cognos cubes are not created, you will not see your version of the model in the Report Designer widget. This is a useful troubleshooting tool in case of problems.


Monitor data security

Next, you will need to provide users access to the model so they can view or manage the dashboard views built on the model.

To perform administrative data security functions for a particular model, click Security > Monitor data security> Configure tab and associate a user or role to a model as shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. Monitor data security
Monitor data security

Business Space configurations

This section describes the steps to configure the dashboard views using the widgets provided in Business Monitor and rendered in Business Space.

Configuring dashboards

You will need to configure the dashboards to view the relevant business information or performance in the manner useful to derive a business decision, if any.

  1. Upon clicking Update Tracking Definitions, a space is automatically created for every model version. If you want to create your own space, click on Actions > Create Space on the Business Space Welcome page. In this article, we are using the default. Since we are configuring additional KPIs and Reports, create a page to work on widgets like KPI Manager, Alert Manager, and Reports Designer.
  2. To create a page, click on the plus on the space and fill in the page name as Manage as shown in Figure 9.
    Figure 9. Manage page
    Manage page
  3. To start editing the new page, click on the Edit Page option on the upper right corner of the page and a list of available widgets appears.

Defining KPIs using the KPI Manager

To define KPIs using the KPI Manager:

  1. Add the KPI Manager widget to the page by clicking on the plus sign next to KPI Manager in the list of widgets available, as shown in Figure 10.
    Figure 10. Adding a KPI Manager widget
    Adding a KPI Manager widget
  2. On the KPI Manager widget, create an Aggregate KPI, ContractHiringCount, by selecting the model and clicking Actions > New Aggregate KPI.
  3. Fill in the name in the Name tab and select Model associated with the KPI as shown in Figure 11.
    Figure 11. Creating a new KPI
    Creating a new KPI
  4. Next, under the Definition tab, you will define the report. To show the count of Contract requisitions in the last month, choose the operator as Count, the time reference as sliding interval of past 1 month, and the data filter to filter the instances based on Approval Status of "Approved" and employee Status of "Contract" as shown in Figure 12.
    Figure 12. Defining an aggregate KPI
    Defining an aggregate KPI
  5. On the Next tab, specify the range with colors to indicate where the KPI falls in a particular range. Figure 13 shows the specified range in our example.
    Figure 13. Defining range for a KPI
    Defining range for a KPI
  6. You can also create an Expression KPI. Using an Expression KPI, you can base your KPI calculation on another KPI. The steps for creating the Expression KPIs are similar to the Aggregate KPI, the only variant is the Definition tab. The Definition tab for an Expression KPI is shown in Figure 14.
    Figure 14. Expression KPI definition
    Expression KPI definition

As shown in Figure 14, you have to specify the expression in the area provided based on a KPI or an operator. Optionally, you can also use user-defined functions in the expression. In our example, we have created two Expression KPIs called "RejectionPercentage" and "PercentageReplacement".

Defining reports using the Report Designer

To define reports using the Report Designer:

  1. Add the Report Designer widget on the page as you did for the KPI Manager widget.
  2. Fill in the name and select the Model Process App for the package.
  3. Select the measures for reporting and the data they are based on and save.

    Figure 15 depicts the definition of a "Requisition Status" report based on the Hiring Manager, Department, and Approval Status.

    Figure 15. Defining Requisition Status report
    Defining Requisition Status report

Similarly, in our example we have also created an Annual Requisition report based on employmentStatus, department, and location for the time interval from July 1st, 2011 to July 1st, 2012.

Defining alerts using the Alert Manager

You can define alerts based on any KPI using the Alert Manager. You can add an alert Manager widget on the page and declare alerts on KPIs as shown in Figure 16.

Figure 16. Defining alerts
Defining alerts
  1. You need to select a model and specify the owner who will receive the alerts.
  2. To add a KPI, click on Add and specify the condition under which the alert should be fired.
  3. In the Next tab for the Alert content, you can choose to have an auto generated message or a dynamic message describing the business situation.
  4. The Notification tab specifies whether the alert is configured as a dashboard alert or if it is forwarded to a cell phone, a pager, or email.

In our example, we did not configure any alerts.

Configuring KPIs

Having defined the required KPIs and Reports, you can go ahead and configure all the views:

  1. Click on the Edit Page on the "HR Open New Position KPIs" page to configure the KPIs. You will notice that there are some KPIs already modeled in the widget.
  2. Click on the down arrow icon and then Edit Settings on the top right corner to configure this view.
  3. Finally, select the KPIs of interest that appear on the page as shown in Figure 17.
    Figure 17. Select KPIs
    Select KPIs
  4. To change the layout of the KPIs, refer to Figure 18.
    Figure 18. Configuring the layout for a KPI
    Configuring the layout for a KPI

Configuring the Report Viewer widgets

In the "HR Open New Position Reports" page:

  1. Click on the Edit page and configure the report widgets as explained before by clicking Edit Setting on the menu from the top right corner of the Report Viewer widget.
  2. Specify the report you want to view (Figure 19).
  3. Finally, click OK.
    Figure 19. Configuring the Report Viewer
    Configuring the Report Viewer
  4. Repeat this for all the reports you have defined using the Report Designer.

Configuring the Instance View

To configure the instance view for operational monitoring, navigate to the HR Open New Position Instance page and click the Edit page. There is already an instance view available with almost all the data selected.

To configure:

  1. Click on the icon on the upper right corner of the instance view widget and choose Edit Settings from the menu.
  2. Set the default monitoring context by selecting the monitoring context and clicking on Set as Default.
  3. Select the columns from the available list to display in the instance view and move it to the Selected list (Figure 20).
  4. Once done, click OK.
    Figure 20. Configuring the Instance View
    Configuring the Instance View

View the dashboard results

Run a few instances of the "HR Open New Position" BPD by clicking on the playback icon in Process Designer and work on the tasks as the respective participants. In our example, we have used "admin" as the participant in all roles specified in the swim lanes.

Ensure that you give data that covers different values for employment status, location, department, hiring manager, position type, across multiple instances, so that the reporting can be based on these values.

View instances

For viewing the instance view, click on the HR Open New Position Instances page. The instance view appears and reveals that five instances of the Hiring Process have been completed. Note that the list of metrics we had selected during the configuration of the Instance View is shown here as columns (Figure 21).

Figure 21. Instance view
Instance view

You can filter the instances based on the values of any column, for example, viewing all the requisitions in the department "Product" gives you three instances.

View reports

To view reports:

  1. Click on the HR open New Reports page. You now see two reports there, one for Requisition Status and the other for Annual Requisition Report. The Requisition Status report shows the approved and rejected instance counts per department as shown in Figure 22.
    Figure 22. Requisition Status Report
    Requisition Status Report
  2. To see the report, with respect to each Hiring Manager, click on the Hiring Manager link on the right hand side and a detailed report appears as shown in Figure 23.
    Figure 23. Detailed report with respect to Hiring Managers
    Detailed report with respect to Hiring Managers
  3. To change the Display type, right-click on the view, select Change Display Type and select the desired display type as shown in Figure 24.
    Figure 24. Change Display Type
    Change Display Type

    You can drill down to see the same data in a different view. For example, to see all the approved requisitions, double-click on Approved on the graph and the report appears as shown in Figure 25.

    Figure 25. Requisition status for approved instances
    Requisition status for approved instances

    Figure 26 shows the Annual requisition report.

    Figure 26. Annual Requisition report
    Annual Requisition report

View KPIs

To view the KPI:

  1. Click on the HR Open New Position page, and the configured KPIs appear as shown in Figure 27.
    Figure 27. KPI views
    KPI views

    In our example, the ContractHiringCount KPI is shown with a value 1, the Percentage Replacement is 20% (1 out of 5), and the RejectionPercentage is also 20% (1 out of 5).

  2. In this view, you can select any desired layout by clicking on the layout in the lower left corner.
  3. Additionally, you can access the Alert Manager for a particular KPI by clicking on the arrow on the top right of each KPI and selecting Alert Manager as shown in Figure 28.
    Figure 28. Access Alert Manager from a KPI
    Access Alert Manager from a KPI

Conclusion

This article provided an overview of business activity monitoring of processes deployed in Business Process Manager using Business Monitor. It also explained the configurations related to tracking events in Process Designer and dashboard views in Business Space.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Venkata Gadepalli for his help in reviewing this article.

Resources

Comments

developerWorks: Sign in

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).


Need an IBM ID?
Forgot your IBM ID?


Forgot your password?
Change your password

By clicking Submit, you agree to the developerWorks terms of use.

 


The first time you sign into developerWorks, a profile is created for you. Information in your profile (your name, country/region, and company name) is displayed to the public and will accompany any content you post, unless you opt to hide your company name. You may update your IBM account at any time.

All information submitted is secure.

Choose your display name



The first time you sign in to developerWorks, a profile is created for you, so you need to choose a display name. Your display name accompanies the content you post on developerWorks.

Please choose a display name between 3-31 characters. Your display name must be unique in the developerWorks community and should not be your email address for privacy reasons.

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

(Must be between 3 – 31 characters.)

By clicking Submit, you agree to the developerWorks terms of use.

 


All information submitted is secure.

Dig deeper into Business process management on developerWorks


static.content.url=http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/js/artrating/
SITE_ID=1
Zone=Business process management, WebSphere
ArticleID=751743
ArticleTitle=Monitoring business processes by using tracking groups in IBM BPM V7.5
publish-date=08102011