Thank you very much for your patronage "Workflow Sample" and " Cloud-based Workflow QUESTETRA" in 2012. We think this year became very fulfilling, for the number of published process template had been exceeded 500, also for we could release the major version 9 of Questetra BPM Suite.

The next year 2013 too, we would like to strive to meet the expectations and demands of people all over the world, enhancements, and publishing the samples. We beg you to give us further your patronage.

Rooting for =>

The final Sample of 2012 is, in a little change of manner, a Process of testing "Data Types that Questetra supports as of Dec. 31, 2012".

You can test Data types in 10 types 18 subtypes such as String, Numeric, Date, Select, File, User, Discussion, Table, etc..

[Data Type Test]

"BPO is the main battlefield of the BPM"
They are the words of the IT research firm, but for the man in the street it already sounds like cipher. It would be understood only by geeks who are living in enterprise software industry. That means,
  • Job like "to digitize image data of application postcard etc. into text" would be outsourced.
  • For the companies that undertake those jobs, "BPM tools" are going to become an important tool almost as the foundation of their business.
  • So it is very important for a company that develops "BPM tool", whether their products be utilized by the contractors.

* BPM: Business Process Management

One of the duties to be commissioned in BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), is "Data Entry" (such as for example, insurance contracts and pension records sweepstakes entry Questionnaire). In this example, business process of those data input operations is defined.

[Data Input flow]

Asset management is "troublesome". Especially, equipment management is "really troublesome". Equipment Management in administrative organs seems to be "Needless to say, troublesome".
Although, because it have been purchased with taxes, they never can say "supposed to be somewhere".

In Japan, they manage the equipment and consumables in accordance with the law, referred to as "State-Owned Articles Management Act". There, massive "document" to manage the articles occurs, but I want to migrate them to "digital document" in somehow.

The following Workflow defines a flow of operation called "Return". Procedures like a staff who was using a computer 'returns' the machine because no longer using it. (Articles Return Process)

My personal opinion, government is the one that should introduce a 'Cloud-based Workflow' initiatively, and promote Cloud industry, a new industry promising in the 21th century.

[Articles Return flow]

Google Apps, the Cloud-based Groupware never stops their evolution.
Dec. 2012, they started providing 'Attachment' files easily from "Google Drive", Online Storage (which has been released Apr. 2012).

"Multifunctionality of Gmail", "Affinity with the Android Smartphone", "the usability of Google Calendar", have been the reason of the popularity of Google Apps, but from now on, "The broad-mindedness (?) of Google Drive" will be a big favor of the people. It will not be long before "file servers" in companies disappears from the world.

In the following Personnel Evaluation Workflow, "Evaluation Process" proceeds referring the personnel evaluation sheet kept in Google Drive. It indeed is a workflow of the age of cloud computing.

Reference: Gmail and Drive Getting Closer

[Personnel Evaluation flow]

Field Engineering is a service such as periodical inspections to prevent failure, or repairing occurring failures. Indispensable to sales business of MFPs and control equipments.

In many cases, serviceperson so called 'Custome Engineer (CE)' are dispatched. Incidentally, we Japanese call them 'Service-man', though a strange Japanglish. And I think this word is used only to repair personnel for large appliances or gas appliances, nowadays... (Ah, it was an idle chatter)

The following Business Process allocates jobs to workers (CE), and records the work reports from workers (CE). The biggest purpose is of course "visualization of work progress".

[CE Progress Management flow]

Workflow for Creating 'PayPal Button'

Monday, November 26, 2012
'Create a "Buy Now" button of PayPal, please !'

Today, 'Online Sell' is possible even by an individual easily. You can sell any products and services like 'Images' and 'Visiting Services' on your Web site, setting Buy buttons that you create. It only costs commission of '3.4%' + '$0.30 USD'.

Specifically, a seller logs in to "PayPal", goes to "Website Payments Standard" in "Products & Services" menu and selects the button type, then the seller can start making buttons.
  1. Single items
  2. Multiple items
  3. Automated payments

But, however,
It is not a desirable situation in which everyone in the organization can create the "Buy Now" button. Need unification for naming convention of the button (which stored in PayPal), as well as for the setting.

[PayPal button creation flow]

Oh My Goodness, there is no more stock of printer paper!

The person who used up the last one should tell it to the General Affairs, but people tend to forget to do that.
Or, even though Affairs had been reported, it was not led to ordering.

Well, "Order Management of Office Consumables" is annoying. Nowadays, they would have been received on the day, if they only had reached in 'the ordering'.

The Workflow presented here, it is excellent on the point that anyone can report it to General Affairs in front of the MFP. (Of course, the email address is pasted on the MFP.)
That is, all he or she has to do is to send an email from mobile while waiting for the last paper being printed out. No need to walk to Affairs desk, no need to even type letters of "We've got no more printer paper".

[Used up Stock Report & Ordering flow]

'Can you do "proxy approval" in this Workflow system?'
Although it is a casual word, it seems like that is used in a broad sense surprisingly.
In the Japanese government" for example, assuming the various cases, internal mandate system is in place such as "agency system", "proxy officers system" or "deputy bureaucrat system".
  • A. The person in the next positions can perform the proxy processing on a case-by-case basis, only during short-term absence, such as going out for visit.
  • B. Entrust a person for particular processing of specific tasks, only during short-term absence, such as going out for visit.
  • C. Entrust a person for the full rights of all tasks, only during the absence of long-term, such as hospitalization or travel.
  • D. Always delegating authority for processing some specific tasks.
General companies might develop a rule of delegation of decision-making authority assuming a situation in which the sales manager is too busy to login the Workflow system and cannot give approval readily.

The following decision making flow is an example of an approval flow by "Proxy approval" in A pattern above.
It is a mechanism decision-making authority will be delegated to multiple proxy as well (such as the deputy general manager and deputy general manager), when the task of official approver (sales manager) [2. approval] has been left to stand for 3 hours.

[Approval flow with after 3 hours authorization delegation]
For the Japanese Salesperson, business card is a "mass consumable". Several hundreds of them would be gone while presenting at an exhibition. They have to care how much remaining they have on a regular basis, and must order 'additional' as appropriate.

The business card order request is a very simple workflow. In fact, even without application flow (system), "request by email" would be enough to make business ahead.

However, if you put the business card order application into the workflow in practice, it will be interesting to be visualized in various ways.
  • 'Consumption speed' of each salesperson to be compared
  • 'Most consuming periods' over the entire sales department to be graphed
  • 'Qualification holder' in the sales department to be searched

It lends itself well to the subject matter of the practicing of business process designing. Come and please try.

[Business Card Order Application flow]
Email newsletters are one of the tools to tell 'Valuable information for subscribers'.

The position of the e-mail newsletter, although which differs greatly depending on the issuer, for example, it is "marketing tool that directly related to the sales" for the mail-order company, also is an "Induction tool that greatly influences the access" for media sites. That is, it is not a few that email newsletters play a 'crucial role of the business'.

It is desirable that the process of creating manuscript would be 'processed quickly' and 'hardly mistaken'.

The following business process sample is an Email Newsletter Manuscript Creating Flow that about 20 manuscripts per month will be created. Both of "Regularly issuance three times a week Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday" and "Publishing in arbitrary timing" are assumed. These work procedures or automatic processing are devised to prevent retention and mistakes.
  • Automatically started on the day before the regular issuance
  • Deadline of each process is set explicitly
  • Automatically setting the stylized part such as 'date of issue' or 'Copyright Year'
< Organization Assumption >
One producer, one director, three Writers (Concurrently serving), three Illustrators (Concurrently serving) one Photographer (Concurrently serving)
(* The Director serves concurrently as an Illustrator)

[Email Newsletter Manuscript Creating Flow]

Every business has to do with Contracts.
And, "Conclusion of a Contract" it is a very important human process, yet it is cumbersome. It requires division of labor because of specialization. Want to make it efficiently more even a little bit.

By the way, Japanese major companies demand 'Conclusion of NDA (Non-disclosure agreement)' in the beginning of a trade. However, what is written on the template is the mostly the duplication of "Unfair Competition Prevention Law" (1993). Sometimes matters about basic right as written in "Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property" (1883) are added in the contract. Anyway, the company on the side of receiving the contract will be forced to 'barren work' of checking if "something strange have been written" or not.

We would want to design the business processes in mind that the Legal check includes also extremely unproductive matters like "conclusion of NDA".

# Japanese GDP might grow steadily if 'NDA templates' by all major companies had been changed to 'Let's comply with the Unfair Competition Prevention Law' only...

In the following Legal Checking Workflow, Task of [2. Approve Draft of Contract] by the Boss and [3. Approve Draft of Contract] by the Legal are able to be skipped.

[Contract flow]
'Buying a computer', 'hiring a person'...
In fact, sometimes things are promptly decided by 'Top-down', sometimes are approved from 'bottom-up'. You cannot tell whichone is always the better. However, it should be better recorded unitarily both of 'top-down decisions' and 'bottom-up approval', as decision information as an organization.

The following business process definition is an example of 'a Decision-making process' that allows recording (aside the proposer) the final decision maker, decision time, decision content, in a same format. Decisions as an organization, it is sufficient to refer to the process that has flown on it. There, it never be recorded 'top-down decisions' as if it was 'bottom-up approval'.

In this age of cloud computing, it is as a matter of course to digitize the "data of the decisions as an organization", but like this case, it is also important to assume multiple 'decisions as an organization flow' for securing organizational mobility.

# You would hardly be able to even find the "decision of the past" if you had saved the 'request for approval documents' in 'paper'.

In addition...
In Japan, there is a mechanism called 'RINGI, request for decision' the recording format of a bottom-up decision-making.

Drawn up by the authority responsible for drafting stipulated by internal regulations, after obtaining the consent of the multiplayer, will be approved by the final decision maker. For example when placement "a massive advertisement", the people responsible for drafting must create a document that is an overview of advertising or the reason why the massive advertisement is needed, and submit along with an estimate of the cost of each ad. Actually, it takes considerable time and effort to the RINGI, the request for approval, to arrive at the approver.

But from a different perspective of view, I can say the discussion about;

  • Is there really a need to "massive advertising"?
  • There might be a need to be more "massive advertising"?
  • The "risk" accompanying the ad have been supported?
  • "Effect" obtained by the ad are expected correctly?

has been done well at the time of the approval. That is, after the approval, work of advertisements placement will be processed surprisingly quickly and smoothly. In many cases, the top himself is not necessary to instruct for tasks of advertisement placement.
RINGI is a mechanism that has been deeply supported by Japanese companies, and it would survive enduringly in the future.

[Procurement Approval flow]

Workflow system goes well with Desk workers'.
Translators for example, who spend most of their work stuck on their PC, they are really in good chemistry with Workflow.

The following is a 'Translation flow' mainly for Web contents.
It is a device which putting a document in Japanese in it, and the translation in English and in Spanish would be completed.(!?) After running this flow to some extent, gradually you will see the correlation of the amount of original document and duration of processing.

[Translation workflow]

[In-house SNS]

Since around the year 2000, 'Workflows' have been a major stepping forward in the area of;
  • Decision making and Approval
  • Expense Report
  • Travel Expenses Reimbursement
and have been contributing to a significant reduction in office work labors. Some folks call these 'Three major applications of workflow'.

It has been digitized (onlined), records have been remain automatically, and the aggregate has become extremely faster.

Later, office work has been digitized one after another along with improving the environment, such as an internal LAN.
  • Working hours, attendance reporting
  • Procurement and Asset Management
  • Application of Internal Affairs and Communications
  • Recruiting
These have come to be into the workflow as well. Especially, cross-department Workflow, and business between remote locations they are very significant to be digitized.

Now, the cloud computing era of today.
Workflow is not limited to internal operations.
That is, operations of responding to an inquiry from the outside became able to be operated in the Workflow system as well. Specifically, "Product inquiry" or "Complaint", "Request for Quote" or "Personal Information Protection Counter", can now be processed electronically in accordance with operating procedures (business processes) as well.

In the following workflow definition, it is possible to be incorporated in the same flow by the connective setting, such as (external trigger) inquiries on the Web site or by e-mail, as well as queries on Facebook and Twitter, etc.. It can be branched to 'Translation' or 'advisory' in the middle of the Workflow.
By the way, it is the uniqueness of "Questetra BPM Suite", the Cloud based Workflow, that providing flexible improvement on 'operations that cooperating with external system'. (Free accounts are ready to go!)

[Corresponding Query flow]

An accommodation booking system. Messages are mechanical though it is not bad at it.
Reminders come in 10 days in advance, and once more the day before. Or a questionnaire email arrives 'the next day after returning home'...

But, what if there was a heartwarming sentence added?
'How was the walk to Kinkakuji on the day you leave? Since light rain was falling, all of us employees had been worried.' Such thoughtfulness would make a tourist happy. This is what we call hospitality.

The following is an example of Reservation Management flow with 'human processing' added.

[Booking flow]
In the manufacturing industry and the construction industry or B2C business, FAX is still active.
Here, we would like to introduce a mechanism to automatically send FAX of the "business documents in a workflow" via the Internet. When all is said, FAX sender achieve Paperless. In addition, all FAX transmission related information such as transmission date-time and transmitting data, will be as are recorded automatically! (Easy visualization to Operational efficiency indicators as well.)

It may sound cool somehow, but calmly thinking, it is wrong that the fact that the routing of
  1. Printout by the MFP, then
  2. Scan the paper and send a FAX by the same MFP
has not been eradicated until now, in this year of 2012 which "2001: A Space Odyssey" of course is supposed to be finished even "2010: Odyssey Two".

[Internet FAX Outbound]

Internet FAX - SaaS Workflow

Monday, September 10, 2012
'I don't need fax anymore!' (anachronism)

Yeah, that's right!
That's right, okay, but... we still need it...

Although many companies and enterprises dismiss 'FAX machine to waste paper', but they are introducing the "Internet FAX". There are various services provided in Japan such as eFax, BizFAX, D-FAX, Paperless FAX or Toones. Simply, you can save the FAX machine Price / Supplies expense / Communication expense. Needless to say, it is easy to circulars and to save.

Furthermore here, we would like to introduce a sample to efficiently process 'received FAX' (Image data).

[Internet FAX]
Will it be possible to build the Core System over a Workflow?

It will be possible if it is with a Workflow of nowadays. Though it is controversial that how far a Workflow should be functional, the Non-programing technology of today is really amazing. Especially in a department or company of up to 500 people, employees who know the reality of day-to-day operations should "build it by themselves". I dare to say that you surely can get a better one than "made-to-order system of 10 million yen budget".

The following Workflow definition is "Bill Creation flow (including reporting the Order and reporting the Service provided)" for 'Questetra, Inc.', a Japanese SaaS business company.
  • 72 Data items.
  • One of them is Table type (length variable).
  • Has a mechanism to send an email which business data have been inserted in the middle of the process.
  • Has a mechanism for the automatic PDF document generation.
  • Has a mechanism for the automatic starting monthly Billing flow.
  • Has a mechanism for the automatic approval when passing the deadline.
  • Has a mechanism for the automatic starting triggered by 'an email from an external'
  • Has a mechanism of labor saving of input by indicating prospect according to input user or input time.

If you would build this by made-to-order, maybe it will cost '2 people working a whole month on only the requirements definition'. And later, it will cost 'never less than 10 people working a whole month on designing, development and testing'.

[Bill Creation flow]

Let's automate invoice issuance. Yeah, let's do it.

Because data items to be describe on the invoice have been saved as the approval information in the Workflow, all you have to do is to insert them into the template of PDF.

By the way, here we are going to make the framework of Invoice Issuance flow.

Of course in the future, we aim to connect to 'Delivery flow' or 'Service Providing flow' which goes to issue invoices, but now, to begin with, we are going to visualize "Invoice issuance situation".

[Invoice Issuance flow]

When it comes to creating Quote, it is better (1+)quick, (2+)beautiful, (3+)inexpensive.

I don't want those (3-)expensive quote, even if they are (1+)quick and (2+)beautiful.
I don't want those (2-)ugly quote, even if they are (1+)quick and (3+)inexpensive.

At least, I never want (1-)slow quote. "Quick response" is the fundamental of business.

The following workflow is " Quote Issuance Approval flow" to respond quickly to e-mail received in the Request for Quotation.
It takes the full advantage of New Features of Ver. 9 of the Cloud Based Workflow "Questetra BPM Suite"that is released yesterday (2012-08-21).

[Quote Issuance Approval flow]

A Workflow will be started by somebody as an application...
Such 'internally driven' operations, there are many. However, actually there are much more of 'externally driven' operations, which is, 'operations which is triggered by requests from outside of the organization'. Moreover, 'externally driven' operations should be processed accurately along the rule.

Here, we would like to introduce a Workflow, which [1. Accept Entry for Joining Event] at "Form" of Google Drive (ex.Google Documents), [2. Automatic submit Thanks E-mail], [3. Payment Confirmation by human], [4. Automatic submit Thanks E-mail for the Payment]. (operation Corresponding to Acceptance of Applications for Event)

[Applications Acceptance flow]

Split is different from Fork.

If it is railroad, trains will be led to either of the tracks at switches. If it is river, water flows into both of branches at forks. When it comes to Business, some cases it splits, some cases it forks.

The following Workflow definition, is for a quick decision on "Emergency" that should be shared in-house, at the time when "the earthquake occurred" or "weather warning issuance", or even "occurrence of serious service failure". Who should do what? What is the matters to be processed concurrently? The accurate information that has been organized as a result should be told quickly.

[Emergency sharing flow]
When you are making application on Workflow, typing 'your own name' first, and then entering 'date of the day'...don't you think they are unproductive procedures?
Don't bother me such obvious matters.  Please make  'these have been entered already as initial value', then give it to me.

The following Workflow definition is to make Monthly Report.  To report summary of activities of the last month to the Boss up to the fifth day of every month.  It allocates a Task of [1. Make Monthly report] to all the employees in the morning of the first day of every month.

To make application, such 'initial values' and 'templates' have been entered for many forms.

[Monthly Report flow - Initial Value]

Workflow of Daily Report.
For who writes, one report a day. But for who reads, it will be the number of his/her men. There might be a story that, someone had held them thinking 'Okay, I will make comment on them later', then after a while found out 'Wow, I've got a thousand of them!'.

You should better consider a setting of 'automatic flowing', for the Tasks which become meaningless at the time losing "freshness of information". For example, on 'Daily Report Approval flow', 'the next daily report' will come on the next day. You might better treat the report which two days have passed since reported, as 'auto-approval'. Nevertheless, in actual operation, you should better avoid situations that "List of the Tasks (My Tasks)" has been occupied by meaningless Tasks.

In the following Workflow definition, the Task of 'Make Comment' by Boss, will automatically lapse at 48 hours passed since process start time. (Including the case 48 hours had passed at the time of arrival.)

[Daily Report Approval flow]

Japanese software industry has been developed centered on "System Development by consignment". So called "SI business". And now, it is at ebb.

Naturally, if wealthy sponsors (patron) existed, those outsourcing businesses would survive as well as "Housing" or "Clothing". But on the other hand, in the this aspect of economic recession, the efficiency of business process (Workflow) will inevitable. In addition, we will also have to seek better quality of service.

Here we would like to exemplify a Workflow sample concerning the business outsourcing contract for SI company (prime contractor).

[Outsourcing flow]