Process Management for IT Service Providers

By Tim Cook

Channel partners are expanding their cloud portfolios, often with multiple cloud service provider solutions.  As service providers onboard, separate order and billing processes are enabled for each.  As the list of service provider solutions grows the management of multiple order processes and disparate data for billing grows in parallel.

We are seeing four levels of maturity in dealing with this problem.

  1. Project Management Software: Manage tasks within a project management software application managed at the customer level.
  2. Workflow Management: Workflow is a set of human processes to be completed, assigned to at the order level, within a Professional Services Automation (PSA) platform or billing platform.
  3. Process Automation: Use of business rules and integrations that automate a business process at the product level.
  4. Orchestration: A unique combination of both human processes and automation to complete a process at the product level, order level and/or customer level.

This blog discusses how these systems differ

Project management software is a list of tasks and task assignments to be managed and completed within a specific timeframe for a specific customer.  Templates can be pre-defined based on product type or solution ordered by the customer.

Workflow management brings project management capabilities into a PSA or billing platform, where the order is initiated.  Templates can be pre-defined based on product type, often called “processes”, however, are manually assigned to the order and manually executed.  It is important to recognize there is no direct correlation between the product and the workflow.  It is simply built in project management functionality.

Both the project management software and workflow management manage the many tasks associated with complex business processes, however, they do not reduce the number of tasks need to complete a process.

Reducing the number of tasks requires Process Automation.  Process automation manages business rules, notifications and data associated with the order of a particular product.  For example:  Place the order in a “pending” status until provisioning is complete then update the status to “active” or send a request via api for a software id and once received generate a notification to a CSR to contact the customer. Process automation can reduce tasks, and resources to complete tasks, as much as 75%.

Orchestration combines process automation and human processes. Most importantly these processes are generated dynamically based on customer information, order information and product information.  No one process is necessarily like the other because the tasks, whether automated or not, are determined by multiple factors relevant to the most successful outcome of the order.  Orchestration also has the ability to manage processes based on multiple sources of external data.  In this case data is mediated into a single record and associated to a customer, product and order. The process can then be triggered based on this data.  One example many are familiar with is the generating a customer notification based on usage against plan.

Hope this helps put things into context for those struggling with process issues.  To discuss how BluLogix can help, contact us at sales@blulogix.com .

Moving to Subscription Billing? Here Are 5 Things You Haven’t Considered