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Build processes with an eye to future

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When building a process flow, business must ensure the design allows for future updates and improvement.

This is according to Marie Wessels, senior ECM specialist at 3fifteen, speaking at the ITWeb BPM Summit, in Bryanston, yesterday.

"It's guaranteed you will not cover all wants and needs the first time around, but only basic necessity," she said. "You will need a second phase to expand functionality to cover other areas."

This presents difficulties, she added. "Most workflow engines do not allow redeployment without destroying current processes, unless you do it carefully, so you have to plan for extension - you cannot neglect the base principles of code."

Wessels, who was involved in building the Sasol Innovation Database in the space of merely four weeks, noted that the database was designed to be trackable for 25 years; "a lot of planning for four weeks, but perfectly possible if you build with an eye to the future".

Planning for future changes in software can be tricky, she acknowledged, which is why a design that is intended to last will need to use mainstream parts of the software, rather than obscure parts of the framework, which are likely to change.

Wessels emphasised the importance of simplicity when building and implementing a process flow in such a short space of time. "If you're building in a short time, don't integrate," she said. "Every integration is a point of failure. Focus on getting the process done. If you build your process well, building in integration later is just building in another component."

The platform is important, she noted, especially for hurried projects. "You can't build from scratch. What you're building has to work because of your product - for example, SharePoint - not in spite of it. Put the product to good use."

Finally, thorough product testing will pave the way for successful rollout of the project, Wessels explained. "During the testing process, you need to be very careful - you can't just check the lines of success. You must test the entire process."

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