Action Technologies, Inc.
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Methodology

Action Technologies' ARIC—Analyze, Redesign, Implement, and Continuously Improve—business process improvement methodology has been developed and refined over twenty years of helping our Global 1000 customers improve business processes and capture outstanding financial returns. Our careful study of work interactions among knowledge workers has created a two-decade accumulation of needs and nuances in the way knowledge workers accomplish work efficiently and effectively (see our White Paper What We Know About Business Process Management).

Analyze

Any implementation of Action Technologies' solution begins with analysis. Attempts to refine an existing process without consideration of its fundamental structure rarely result in significant improvements in speed or efficiency. Software by itself contributes little when bottlenecks and breakdowns persist in the underlying process. Consequently, a thorough analysis is always the first step of any engagement. First, a process team is established, identifying a process owner as well as business and technical representatives. Then interviews are conducted with every process participant including employees, customers, partners, and suppliers, as appropriate. Once the process team has a clear understanding of all the people, negotiations, decisions, and systems involved, the process is mapped, as is, using the ActionWorks Process Builder. Finally, metrics and costs are extracted and verified in consultation with the client. Together, these elements constitute a baseline for determining the success of subsequent steps.

The core of our solution is based on the ActionWorks Business Interaction Model, enabling companies to analyze their knowledge-work-driven processes from a human interaction perspective, as contrasted to the traditional rigid workflow perspective. Typically, Action's senior process consultants, or one of our many consulting partners, skilled at guiding your team through every aspect of process improvement, deliver the process analysis phase of our solution. Action also offers courses through Action University for those customers who prefer to bring these skills in-house.

Redesign

Action's goal in redesigning a process is to make it faster. Studies by renowned process experts, Stalk and Hout of the Boston Consulting Group, have demonstrated that time as a strategic weapon is the equivalent of money, productivity, quality, and even innovation. Accordingly, every aspect of a process is re-mapped and assessed to gain speed. Steps may be eliminated, consolidated, automated, or restructured into process in parallel with other transactions. Customers and Performers are made accountable in every step. Exceptions, a common source of delays, are accepted as a norm and provisions to incorporate them are an explicit part of Action's software. Once a process has been re-mapped and approved by the client, it is ready to be implemented.

Typically the redesign portion of our solution is delivered by Action's senior process consultants, or one of our many consulting partners, skilled at guiding your team through every aspect of process redesign. Action again offers courses through Action University for those customers who prefer to bring these skills in-house.

Implement

Once a process has been analyzed and redesigned to fit your company's needs (determined either internally or through the guidance of an ActionWorks certified process consultant), the process is implemented. Knowledge-worker processes, in addition to requiring your team to negotiate, collaborate, invent, and make decisions, also require information located in disparate data sources in order to inform the process. Action's built-in document management capabilities may meet part of that need. But ActionWorks also leverages your current IT investments by easily integrating with existing legacy and data systems, making the right information available to the right people at the right time so they can make decisions and take action.

Process implementation can be completed either by Action's integration consultants or one of our many integration partners. Action again offers courses through Action University for those customers who prefer to bring these skills in-house.


Continuously Improve

Methods that worked in the past will not necessarily work—or prove sufficient competitive advantage—in the future. Companies that do not continuously improve and refresh their processes will be at the mercy of those that rapidly adapt to change. Action's solution enables companies to improve their processes in real-time regardless of whether a process has thousands of instances, such as in support processes like contract management, or only a few instances a year, such as in core processes like new product development.

Delays in knowledge work processes usually arise from mis-coordination around the decisions and interactions among people. For this reason, continuous improvement in decision processes must put greater emphasis on analyzing the plans, negotiations, decisions, and interactions that people make rather than on the outputs of data systems. Because Action's system tracks the history of each process instance, sufficient data is always readily available for analysis and, by extension, for guiding continuous improvement. Action's Business Process Analysis and Statistics capability, included in base ActionWorks, provides statistical tools to further enhance analysis and redesign of processes.

Business Process Analysis and Statistics includes real-time statistical reports, control charts and other graphical formats that are pushed to your desktop. Based on this information, process owners and management can review where bottlenecks occur in the process, examine if the source of the issue is internal or external, analyze which portions of the process took longer or cost more than originally anticipated, discover how the process is trending over time, determine if it is improving, and more.

Continuous improvement analysis and techniques are part of the curriculum offered through Action University.

More Information

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ActionWorks, the Action Technologies business process analysis and redesign methodology, and the Business Interaction Model are protected under US Patents 6,073,109; 6,058,413; 5,734,837; 5,630,069; and 5,208,748