Amelioration of Excessive Work Hours

In the Japanese government, "health damage due to overwork" has been actively discussed. The rise of this discussion is not an exaggeration to say that triggered by the "new employee suicide for overwork" (2015) in a major advertising agency. And it is expected that a new rule will be added such as "at most of 60 hours of monthly average overtime work under whatever employment contract", within the next one or two years.

In companies and government agencies where work hours are over 220 hours a month persistently, it may be necessary to take various actions, such as "drastic review of business processes" and "consideration of adopting of deemed hours worked system".

Reference) Labor Standards Act of Japan
  • Employers shall not have Workers work more than 40 hours per week, excluding rest periods.
  • Employers shall not have Workers work more than 8 hours per day for each day of the week, excluding rest periods.

Learning by implicit instruction is also included to hours worked

Certainly, it is true that there are people who think "want to work more for learning and experience" (staying in the office) with a pure heart.

Today, however, "learning necessary for work" is also defined as working hours. Given the fact that the case of trying to disguise the working hours as short as possible by letting workers to report as "self-development" or "private information gathering", this guidelines may be "unavoidable".


Common recognition within the team about working hours

Hours worked is defined as "time that a worker is objectively evaluated as being placed under command of the employer".

However, taking into consideration the situation as described above, it is very effective to once again discuss the common perception of each department of each company regarding "how to measure working hours concretely".

For example, not only "preparation of materials" at home but also "learning of technology trends" should be measured as working hours. However, on the other hand, if a server administrator who is required to confirm the latest security trends, included the time for "checking the Web for information" and "subscribing to the email newsletter", all the awaking time could be the hours worked.

[Hours-worked report]

Who is holding it?

Laser pointers, portable battery chargers, portable projectors...
Corporate credit card, airline mileage card, PC software license...

Equipments in a company would like to be actively "utilized". However, "management" on these items is very troublesome. It will become a mere facade sooner or later if it is by the management method, for example, "record in Excel or Spreadsheet".
  • Cumbersome to update.
  • Don't know who should update.
  • Don't know when it was updated last time.
  • First of all, don't know where the management file is.
  • Oh no, there are lots of management files...
Hopeless, if it is a premise of"Long-term lending". As a result, even the essential matters, such as who is holding it, or is he or she really holding cannot be managed.

Firstly "loose management"

The following Workflow definition is a mechanism to record lending and return of goods. It can be said to be a system that records "inventory" such as "offered" and "returned".

As you can see from the Workflow diagram, I haven't done anything complicated. It is only a mechanism that the user of goods entries about "goods wanting long-term lending", and the goods manager (teller) records about "contents lent out". In this example, it is unique that the lend period is managed in year, month (e.g. 2017-02) rather than the date (e.g. 2017-02-13). It seems like suggesting "application for short-term lending is unnecessary".

[Lending Management]
In the last three articles of

I mentioned the difference and respective implementation method of
  • A) Automatically advance to the "next Step" in the Business Process
  • B) Make "certain Step" within a Business Processes to be processed unattended
regarding automation within a "Business Process".

In this (final) article, I am going to organize about the automation between Business Processes.


Connection between Business Processes

Positions of Business Processes

Until now, we discussed focusing on "individual Business Processes" such as "Estimate Approval process" and "Order Receipt process". However, in order to promote automation (improvement of productivity) in the company-wide, we must consider about "connectivity between Business Processes".

On such a stage, it is a shortcut for improvement discussion that enumerating the internal "Business Processes" as much as possible in advance.

That is, the overall viewing would reveal the position and dependency of each Business Process, and the way it should be of the "inputs" and "outputs" of each Business Process would become clear. Along with, it would also clarify the operation method and direction of improvement that the responsible person (Process Owner) of the Business Process should aim for.

Enumerating Business Processes

So, what kind of "Business Processes" are there inside the company?

It goes without saying that it varies greatly depending on the business contents and organization size. At the same time, you should suppose that there is no one who can grasp all the business details in the company. In other words, regardless of who is in charge of "enumerating Business Processes", on-site hearings in certain extent will be required.

And when enumerating the survey results, it is important to enumerate by categories so as to make it easy to see the whole.

As a methodology in practice, it is necessary to map in-house Business Processes utilizing the cost categorization upon calculating the profit and loss of the compan such as "manufacturing cost", "selling expenses" and "general administrative expenses", in addition to the Process classification method of the research institution.

[APQC Process Classification Framework]
  1. Develop Vision and Strategy
  2. Develop and Manage Products and Services
  3. Market and Sell Products and Services
  4. Deliver Products and Services
  5. Manage Customer Service
  6. Develop and Manage Human Capital
  7. Manage Information Technology
  8. Manage Financial Resources
  9. Acquire, Construct, and Manage Assets
  10. Manage Enterprise Risk, Compliance, and Resiliency
  11. Manage External Relationships
  12. Develop and Manage Business Capabilities

[Quote Creation and Approval-Order Report launcher]

[Order Report-Launched by Quote flow]
In the article before the last, "Episode 518: What is Automation of Business Process (Part 1)", I mentioned about two aspects regarding automation of Business Process, such as;
  • [A] Automation of handing over of Issue information between Processes
  • [B] Automation of processing in certain Step

Also, in the last article, "Episode 519: What is Automation of Business Process (Part 2)", I mentioned about the scope and implementation method of "[A] Automation of handing over".

In this article, I would like to organize the range to which "[B] Automation of processing" can be applied and the implementation method.



What kind of "processing" can be automated

Complete automation (Auto-Step)

Likewise the idea of "[A] Automation of handing over" is that leaving the delivery of Issue information from a certain Step to the next one to a computer, it leaves the "work inside certain Step" to the computer in "[B] Automation of processing".

Even in "Quote Creation and Approval" which is a Business Process with a high degree of human dependence, for example, it is possible to leave processing in Steps to the computer, such as
  • creating Quote PDF file,
  • sending email with file attachment,
  • posting summary of the Quote to Enterprise social network.

* Incidentally, it may be easy to understand with an expression that (instead of using the term of 'automation') "part of Step of Business Process to be unmanned", as long as it is not necessary to contrast with "[A] Automation of handing over."


Partial automation

On the other hand, there are some Steps that not to be automated completely.

For example, in the Step of "Creating a Quotation" in "Quote Creation and Approval" Business Process, supporting function such as
  • Calculate total amount
  • Calculate consumption tax amount
would contribute to labor saving of work. However, in this case, the Step of "Creating the Quote" is not unmanned, as some human input (human interface) is necessary. Therefore, it can be said that such Steps should be classified as "human Step".

[Quote Creation and Approval]
In "What is Automation of Business Process (Part 1)", the previous article, I described about two aspects on automating Business Process, such as
  • [A] Automate the delivery of Issues information between Processes
  • [B] Automate processing in certain Step

In this article, I would like to organize the scope of application of "[A] automation of delivery".
* Regarding "[B] automation of processing", I will describe in the next article.


What kind of "delivery" can be automated

How to define a Flow

In order to smoothly deliver "Issue information" in daily work, (as a matter of course) "Flow of work" must be defined.

In the age where Issue information was managed by "paper" or "signboard", it was sufficient that "Business flow" has been described in natural languages (sentences) such as business manuals. However, to let the computers do delivery, "business flow" is needed to be defined in a "manner that computers can recognize".

In other words, it can be said "the Flows comprehensible by the computer" are the applicable range of "[A] automation of delivery".

[Order Reporting flow-email notification]

What is a "Business Process" in the first place?

A Business Process is a sequence of "several Steps".

For example, in the Orders reporting Process that occurs daily on many companies, it is formed with Steps such as;
  • [1] Sales department employee: register the contents of the order
  • [2] Sales leader: Confirm the order details
  • [3] Sales department manager: approve the order details 

Automation, two aspects

And today, "automation of Business Process" which became popular as a topic under the keyword "productivity improvement" is discussed in either or both of the meaning of;
  • [A] Automation of handing over of Issue information between Processes
  • [B] Automation of processing in certain Step

What is "A: Automation of handing over"?

The antonym of "automatic" is "manual" or "labored", and after all, it can be said that "something that is not a human being" will be responsible for handing over. Today, "Automation with computers and the Internet" is the basic.

It can be said that these functions are necessary condition. In such an environment of automation, It will be transmitted automatically, i.e.;
  • If the output of the Step of [1] is input, it will go to the Step of [2]
  • If the output of the Step of [2] is input, it will go to the Step of [3]

As a matter of course, it is necessary to set Business flow in advance. And also, in reality, it is prerequisite that individual Issue information is managed in "digital data" (paperless).

"Handover" by Workflow

And today there are many products that correspond to splitting and looping of flow.

For example, the following Business Process definition (setting of Business flow) expresses
  • [1] Sales department staff: register the contents of the order
  • [1x] Sales department staff: Re-register the contents of the order (Reworking on rejected issue)
  • [2] Sales leader: Confirm the order details
  • [3] Sales department manager: approve the order details
  • [4] Sales department manager: Report on the content of Issue over 1 million yen to supervisory directors
(According to International Standard Notation BPMN: Business Process Model and Notation)

[Order Reporting flow]

Start workflow by external trigger

In the previous article "Episode 516: Method of Starting Workflow by "Email", I wrote about Workflow triggered by" Incoming mail ". Surely, I will be asked the question that "Is there any other way to start Workflow besides email?" (I have not been asked it yet, though...)

Yes, there are!

In the case of the Cloud based Workflow "Questetra BPM Suite", the APIs are provided as follows. "B1. Start Process" among them corresponds to all of HTTP / WebForm / Email. That is, it is possible to design a Workflow triggered not only by "Incoming mail" but also by "Web form input" or "Reception of HTTP request".
  • A. "Developer APIs" which Workflow system always provides (OAuth 2 / Basic)
    • A1. Operation by User (Workflow APIs)
    • A2. Operation by System administrator (System Setting APIs)
  • B. "Process Model connection API" which each business application provides
    • B1. Process start (Message Start Event) (HTTP / WebForm / Email)
    • B2. Standby in the middle of Process (Catching Message Intermediate Event) (HTTP)
    • B3. External transmission (Throwing Message Intermediate Event / Auto-step) (HTTP / Email)

Workflow to start Workflow

Even though it becomes a little "beyond the basics"... Since it has a function of "B3. External calling in the middle of Process", If you set it as follows
  1. X-Process as to "transmit HTTP request", and
  2. Y-Process as to be started by "Receiving of HTTP request",
so that connection between XY Workflows is also possible.


That is, you can realize the followings.

Well, now, In this article, I would like to think further about a method of"start multiple Issues at once" using CSV data.

[Batch starting of Telephone survey Process (Parent Process)]

[Telephone survey Process (Child Process)]