Product of the Day: Enj

by Vendor Written

Product: EnjManufacturer: Bisil, Inc.Address: 919 Conestoga Road, 206               Building #2, Rosemont, Pennsylvania 19010Telephone: 610-527-8890URL: www.enjbiz.com/prod/enjtheproduct.html

Enj - An Integrated Business Process Automation Platform

The Vision

Enj is a real world transaction automation platform based on the principles of business process automation. Enj helps you quickly and easily configure applications, integrate them with existing applications, and deploy them. You can therefore fill those critical functionality gaps that exist between already implemented solutions. This enables you not only to configure and deploy solutions to fill these gaps, but also have sophisticated tools to manage the deployed solution - to keep the functionality in sync with ever changing business requirements; and to proactively streamline business processes by recording, measuring, evaluating and presenting process metrics data for the deployed solutions.

The genesis of Enj is rooted in the real world experience of every enterprise that has implemented enterprise wide solutions. The huge - usually multi year and large outlay - projects can be divided into two broad 'phases' - pre-implementation and post-implementation. The challenges that organizations face in these two stages are different but, paradoxically, are best addressed by a similar approach in both phases, as we will see below.

The Challenge

Let's look at the challenges in each of these phases. The pre-implementation phase consists of six steps:

  1. Identify the problem or the gap

  2. Explore various solutions

  3. Identify the solution that best meets your needs

  4. Prepare the organization for implementing the solution

  5. Plan the cut-over strategy

  6. Implement the solution.

The key problem starts in step 3 - identifying the solution that best meets your needs. More often than not, software solutions do not reflect real-world business processes the way they are being practiced in your business. This dilemma leads to - what has come to be known as 'Business Process Reengineering' - which entails huge operational risks and costs for organizations, in terms of business dislocation, customer care, personnel re-training and re-orientation, implementation etc. These often grief filled experiences are fairly well documented.

Then comes the post implementation stage - after much trial and tribulation, organizations - the lucky ones at least, manage to implement these solutions, but find that business requirements have changed either due to external factors like changed business environment, restructuring of the marketplace, or internal factors like changes in management, policies, business focus, organization, delivery capabilities among others.

Traditional software solution implementations take months or years. The calendar is relentless; competition is relentless; the market is relentless: requirements change. So, even an implementation that is successful in achieving its original objectives has missed the mark - because meantime requirements have changed.

This is where the trouble starts - no business is static over time, neither are the business processes which support it. Business processes continually evolve to keep pace with the business imperatives and by corollary; the automation solutions that help orchestrate these processes ought to keep changing too. We need flexible, evolving solutions.

Clearly, this is where the problem and the irony lives - by and large, software solutions are static. Your business is being held back because the solutions that you have implemented no longer support whatever changes your business is undergoing - internal or external. You cannot change or re-orient the solutions at the pace you need to have them continuously support your evolving business processes.

Over time - businesses have automated a large part of back office operations, but you have ended up with automated information silos. The processes in these silos may be automated fairly efficiently, but you have gaps in areas where processes cut across these 'vertical silos' or present huge headaches when they need to 'talk' to each other. Moreover, business needs and realities change, but you are 'locked in' to the existing processes, and it requires huge (re) investment to 'morph' the automated processes to reflect changed business realities.

What you need is a solution that

  1. Gives you the capability to not only provide that 'close fit initial solution' but also lets you easily adapt this application over time

  2. Integrates with solutions already being used by your business - to protect your investment as well as fill the functionality gaps that exist 'between' these solutions.

  3. Helps you lower your solution configuration and implementation costs

  4. Keeps business dislocation risk to a minimum

  5. Re-uses - to the maximum extent possible, the computing and personnel infrastructure already available

  6. Requires minimal staff training leading to better and quicker adaptation.

Until now you had only two options available:

  1. Out-of-the-box, one-size-fits-all - Ready-made software solutions

  2. Custom development

At first glance, one-size-fits-all seem to offer the advantage of giving you a solution that is in line with the general best practices in the industry, but there a few issues with them - they may not be the best solution for you because your business processes are different from the ones captured in the ready made solution. This has huge and egregious implications for your business - to start with, you need to re-engineer your business processes (BPR) in order to fit the solution being implemented. BPR has a double whammy: it increases both implementation costs and risks for your business - a negative risk-return model. In addition to this, ready made solutions offer little to nothing to support the change inherent in every economic sector, because the solutions themselves are static. Finally, to the extent that the business processes being automated can provide a strategic, competitive advantage, a canned solution is inappropriate - if you can implement it, so can your competitors, and therefore it cannot be the source of competitive advantage. So much for canned solutions.

What about Custom solutions? Custom solutions can yield a much better fit that reflects your business more closely than ready-made solutions, but this 'close fit' comes at a significantly larger cost in design and development. It also takes more time and risk to implement a custom developed application. You take on the added risk that the project may never be completed or implemented. Moreover, in the long run, custom-built applications have the same handicap as ready-made solutions, they offer very little to support business processes as your needs change, since the solutions themselves are basically static. Flexibility is key.

Fortunately, now you have a third option - the Enj application configuration and deployment platform.

Enj is a technology platform, which comprises an integrated suite of products that lets you rapidly configure initial fit solutions and then enables you to modify these solutions as business requirements change.

The Basis of Enj

Enj is based on the following 'transactional view' of operations in a business Transactions in a business flow through a collection of business processes, HR processes, sales processes, back office processes? Processes are made up of activities or stages and sub processes Activities or stages are 'connected' to each other by business rules Characteristics of activities are captured in documents Documents have definable attributes and interdependencies

Enj provides automation of your real world business processes by giving you the power of flexibility through the use of nine process tools:

The Solution

Enj-Organize: First, you define the organization structure and all the people who have been assigned the roles defined in the organizational structure using Enj-Organize. This puts together the dynamic enterprise deployment framework, on top of which your applications will be configured. This is a dynamic "roles based access model", and can be used to manage control and access to different parts of the business processes at any time, even when the system is 'live'.

Enj-Modeler: Next, you build a model of the current business process using Enj-Modeler. Visualize Enj-Modeler as a flow-charting tool. You can 'draw' the business process that you intend to automate simply by dragging and dropping activities, interfaces with other applications and services and defining business rules. Then, you can make the process flow definition 'richer' by using the roles already defined in Enj-Organize: specify who performs what activities, how and when? How transactions flow from one part of the organization to another? Moreover, Enj-Modeler allows you to specify process performance parameters, simulate operational scenarios and help you proactively identify potential hotspots. All this gives you direction in planning and allocation of resources.

Enj-Ports: In the real world no solution exists in isolation. You can define how you want to integrate your business process with other applications and services using Enj-Ports. You can use Enj-Ports to specify data interchange requirements, XML or other file standards, frequency, instantiation, and of course the business rules that govern interchange of data.

Enj-Designer: Now that you have your business activities defined in Enj-Modeler, you can drill down and specify documents; data attributes, and rules governing the data captured through these User Interfaces (UIs) using Enj-Designer. This easy-to-use drag and drop module looks very much like any form-painting tool and manages all interaction with Enj-Organize, Enj-Modeler, and Enj-Ports. It also manages all the data objects that are required to implement the process. This design insulates the user from all the technological aspects of implementing the process, and therefore Enj can be used easily - with minimal training by end users or analysts.

Enj-Transact: At this time you are ready to deploy - Enj-Transact unites all the needed pieces. Enj-Transact pulls all the role definitions, process definitions, business rules, interface requirements together and orchestrates the transactions for your business process. All User interfaces - i.e., forms are thin client and are deployed over a browser. Enj-Transact also feeds the database that Enj had created in the background when you used the modeler and designer. So you are seamlessly building your data warehouse.

Enj-GL: Now that you have mapped the transaction, you can define rules that integrate the transaction with your General Ledger (GL) and specify the accounting treatment due to the transactions - if there is one required - using Enj-GL.

Enj-Reporter: The data warehouse built by Enj-Modeler and Enj-Designer is populated by transactions that are enabled by Enj-Transact. This data warehouse can now be mined using Enj-Reporter. Enj-Reporter has extensive reporting, report scheduling and distribution features that allow you to set up reports, and electronically 'deliver' them to the doorstep of the relevant people in the organization.

Enj-Dashboard: Enj automatically collects process metrics as transactions are executed (in addition to traditional MIS reports provided to you through Enj-Reporter), and these can be reviewed using Enj-Dashboard. Enj-Dashboard helps you compare actual process metrics with process performance parameters specified earlier in Enj-Modeler. After the system has been in use for some time you can use these process metrics from Enj-Dashboard and revisit the process model in Enj-Modeler to fine tune the process, and re-align it if required.

My Enj: You want your Enj deployment to look like the rest of your organization. You can customize the User interfaces of Enj using My Enj. My Enj gives you the facility to help create a seamlessly integrated (with your corporate portal) interactive experience for your user community.

A Single Platform

Enj is the single platform where you can quickly and easily? Represent your business processes - you do not have to 're-engineer' your business to fit an application Bridge gaps in business processes, cross-functional or otherwise Implement manageable chunks of operational processes at a time....

As a result, Enj:

  • Lets you re-model processes on the fly as business realities/needs change.

  • Underwrites short and manageable implementation cycles, letting you enjoy successes in shorter cycles

  • Provides consistency between different operating areas and back office

  • Ensures quick turn-around and success for enterprise-wide implementation

To summarize, you:

  1. Capture the organizational structure and implementation relationships in Enj-organize

  2. Configure your real-world business processes and modify them in future using Enj-Modeler

  3. Define your documents using Enj-Designer - rules are captured in both the modeler and designer

  4. Specify Interfaces with other applications and services using Enj-Ports

  5. Implement all these together with Enj-Transact, which orchestrates the entire application and seamlessly builds your data warehouse

  6. Mine the data warehouse using Enj-Reporter and Enj-Dashboard

  7. Provide a seamless interactive experience using My Enj

What could be simpler?

Simple. Flexible. Affordable. Openworld. Enj.

email: potd@ssc.com

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