The picture of company health

Carl Reller, a business process consultant at the Tauranga District Council, likes looking at pictures when modelling the city's resource management process, building consents and enforcement activities.

Carl Reller, a business process consultant at the Tauranga District Council, likes looking at pictures when modelling the city’s resource management process, building consents and enforcement activities.

“A picture’s worth a thousand words,” says Reller. Hence his use of Auckland company XSol’s visual business process modelling (BPM) tool.

“Its biggest advantage is that people can see what they do. You can get the staff involved and see this is what we do, this is how we interact.”

Staff can see where blockages occur and take steps to streamline processes, he says.

XSol is shipping version 3.0 of its software, technology that the company says allows managers to “see into” their business.

BPM suggests that software should be based around a company’s business model. Xsol head John Blackham (pictured), whose first foray into the business software market was with Fact, more than two decades ago. says XSol’s tool provides a way for managers to track company performance.

“You can define a company by its transactions and its resources.”

The model is dynamic, so the software model can be changed and the actual workflow automatically updated. Staff may not even notice the change, Blackham says.

XSol’s software allows a company to draw a graphical representation, similar to a UML diagram, of a business process. The model is stored in an XML format. As a transaction flows through the business, staff can see their current jobs on XSol’s desktop software. Once completed, the transaction is automatically moved on to the next person.

When the graphical representation is altered, transactions will automatically follow the new process, Blackham says. The XSol software can be told to refer to staff for a decision, or make an automatic choice based upon rules. He hopes in future that BPM software will allow managers to watch a company’s business operate in real time, graphically tracking transactions and decisions as they move between resources.

Because BPM software is designed around a company’s business model — and eventually defines the model — it is particularly appealing to CEOs, who often drive adoption, Blackham says.

At the moment the council uses XSol on only one seat, but Tauranga DC’s Reller believes that could change.

“We could put the whole council on it. It’s got that much potential.”

In New Zealand, XSol pricing starts at $10,000 for process mapping software, and about $25,000 for an initial year deployment of process automation tools.

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