A quick example of how BI & BP (business process) should go hand in hand…
Working with statisticians from Central Michigan University, we’ve jointly developed PVForecaster, a product that allows hospital administrators to forecast their patient volumes on an hour-by-hour, specialty-by-specialty basis. Tactically, the result is better control over scheduling and costs. Strategically, PVForecaster helps administrators forecast changes in demand and react accordingly (e.g. build more capacity, etc.)
The PVForecaster business process design is a good example of how BI (and predictive analytics) applications should integrate with business processes. In our case, rather than just accepting data and ‘spitting’ out forecasts, users drive the system as follows:
1) A planner uses PVForecaster to develop a number of forecast scenaria for the hospital. For example, what is expected to happen if we increase our advertising budget? What if we reduce it? What if our operating territory’s population increases by 2%? Stays flat? Decreases?
2) The planner uses the BI tool to review these scenaria with hospital executives. Together they decide which scenario will be the one that the entire hospital will work from. They use a routine in the BI application to designate this as the ‘working assumption.’
3) Department managers from across the hospital are given access to the ‘working assumption’ forecast in the BI tool. They can use the tool to slice and dice through this forecast along all the relevant dimensions (e.g. date, specialty, time of day, etc.).
4) Using this information, the department managers can plan accordingly.
Yes, we could analyze data and build forecasts without implementing this business process. But, the tools may not ever get used. They may become the unused toy of some isolated planner. On the other hand, implement a business process wherein all the relevant parties have, and need, access to the BI tool to do their jobs and you’ve developed a powerful tool that will get used and will provide enormous value.
Do you have any other good examples of business process / business intelligence synergy? Put them in your comments. Thanks!