Monday, July 16, 2007

With BPM technology towards supportive, context-sensitive end-user applications

Picture a complex application, full of user-oriented functionality. Thousands of forms.
An ERP system. Or some custom application for pensions, complex trade, transport, etc.

Now image the time, the training, the effort people need to get used to the user interface. To find their way to the correct windows, menu's, dialogs. Quite a challenge. And imagine users in a situation where every X months new features are rolled out. For a new product, a new service. A new menu item, hidden under three layers of other menu items.

And so, think of the amount of process tasks people are performing daily. And then the amount of time they need to...
- Understand the context of a task
- Remember what functionality to use to perform the task
- Navigate to the correct functionality
- Remember how this all works and how to perform the task...
All this, eevery day, every time a new task needs to be done...

Now let's look at what BPM technology can deliver, together with more smarter/opener, let's say service based applications (and possibly some rulebased layer, or context engine)

A process is started in a BPM engine. A task is delivered to someone's inbox.
The person opens the task, and wants to perform it.
And the task has knowledge. It knows its context! So, why not let the task tell the application?
- User opens inbox
- User selects task to execute
- Task informs application (through a context engine) what is needed from the application
- Application shows just the functionality/windows needed for the task
- And if needed, shows detailed instructions, based on the task context

Basically: the context-sensitive application.
No more navigation. The task will lead the way. And the user gets the right information and functionality at her/his fingertips.

- Less unneeded navigation, getting lost, mouse clicks, etc.
- Faster processing
- Reduced training cost

But, how do you train someone new? Or when a trained person gets a new task, or needs to use new functionality?
Well, the BPMS can tell (BAM) that a certain task has never been performed by a certain user. So the BPM-S or an trainingmodule can warn the user, provide computer based instructions, and guide the user through her/his first time. And if needed, again, and again (e.g. task inbox item should have a button saying "I need some help with this"). That's what I call supportive.

No comments: