Having worked in the Probation and Parole field for 10 years, these agencies spend a significant amount of time preparing reports for the Court. These documents often need review from a supervisor with almost certain revisions and updates. Once completed, these reports are then shared with other criminal and non-criminal justice agencies pursuant to rules of criminal procedure and local court orders. So how does this current As-Is process look. Lets take a look at the current business process for compiling information, reviews and submissions and then compare this to what a To-Be business process might look like using BPM.
The current As-Is process scenario typically follows this route. An officer of the court gathers information from a local Record Management System (RMS) that holds offender information. This information is usually entered in by various personnel including support staff who enter the initial case information followed by probation officers who add additional case information as it is collected. To prepare a report, the Probation Officer uses a text editor and redundantly types this same information which was recorded into the RMS system. The report is then printed and delivered to a supervisor for their review. If any revisions are required, the paperwork is delivered back to the officer for corrections. This cycle continues until the report is approved at which time it is forwarded to the Court. Reports thatare permitted to be shared with other criminal justice and/or non-criminal justice agencies are also forwarded, usually in paper print. If this information is valuable to those receiving agencies, they typically redundantly enter the same information into their RMS.
As you can see from reading this case scenario, the process is not very efficient. From the redundant data entry, paper and printing costs, delivery costs (inter office and sometimes mail which requires postage) and the possibility of misplaced papers, BPM can allow agencies to better align their IT environment on a low budget and modify a business process as it changes. Lets look at what this To-Be process, using BPM and other open source technology could look like.
An officer starts a report by logging in to their business process console and selecting the type of report (process) they would like to begin. Information from various external sources are gathered using web services to pre-compile a majority of the information, thus reducing redundant data entry. The officer can save this report if not complete and it will appear in their task list neatly organized so not to slip through the cracks only to be remembered last minute. Once the report is complete it is submitted into the process electronically. Business rules decide on where this information flows next. If supervisor review is required, the report can go to a specific supervisor or be available to all personnel with the role of a supervisor. A supervisor can then CLAIM a report to be reviewed and the task will no longer appear in the other supervisors task list. The supervisor can make determinations as to whether the report should be approved, revised or rejected. Based on the supervisors decision the process flow continues. If revisions were requested, the officer will receive a task and possibly an email notification that the task is waiting for them. The officer can review any comments the supervisor made and resubmit the report upon completion. Again, this cycle continues as before in the As-Is process, but paper/printing costs are reduced and tracking of the process is possible using Business Activity Monitoring (BAM). Once approved, the process continues delivering the information to those participants involved in the process - humans and systems. Web Services using XML can be integrated into the process to allow information from the process to populate other RMS.
As mentioned in the To-Be process, Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) can be developed to capture key performance indicators to see if goals, objectives and/or mission statements of that organization are being met. This provides decision makers with critical data they can use to re-allocate resources, request additional resources or realign their goals and objectives based on the data collected. And since the data is being collected from within the process, no other human intervention for record keeping is required. Another added benefit that using business process management software allows for.
BPM is not a panacea, but from my experience it bridges the gap between the IT developers, Business Analysts and Operational Level staff that require IT support to increase efficiency of their current business processes and activities. In addition, with the amount of open source software that is available, software costs for such a system can be substantially reduced..
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