Using a Web Service To Automate Business Processes

Remec wanted a business-process-automation process that was flexible for non-IT people to tweak. It believes it has found just what it was looking for.
People-oriented business processes can sometimes be automated by the people involved, rather than IT professionals, says Rick Taylor, VP of IT for Remec Inc., a maker of wireless infrastructure components.

The people involved in a manual business process know where a purchase order should be sent for its next approval or how to get sign-off on an order when the boss is out of town. "We route capital-authorization requests and purchase requisition requests" through an online service called Nsite, which debuted June 8, says Taylor. Nsite, from Nsite Inc., is a business-process-automation service. It is delivered as an online service, much as Inc. delivers online sales-force automation or NetSuite Inc. offers online accounting services.

Taylor says using the service consists of logging onto a Web site, selecting a form or document suitable for the business process, such as a purchase requisition form. The user then fills in information to start the form moving along its workflow route, which is created by adding in sequence the E-mail addresses of the parties who must review or approve it. Nsite captures the routing of the process and makes the same route available the next time a similar process is initiated, he says.

If Taylor knows his boss is out of town, he can route a capital authorization request to the appropriate person in his absence, making the change by entering the surrogate's E-mail address, he says.

That's a feature he likes. He looked at other business-process-automation software, including Ultimus BPM Suite from Ultimus Inc. But that "had a somewhat static approach to the process of defining routes. Nsite's approach is very dynamic," and can be modified by business users, he says. Nsite can access a directory of employees in order to retrieve names and E-mail addresses.

Many business-process-automation packages' routing must be strictly defined to let one piece of software talk to another, says Bob Jandro, CEO of Nsite. An absent approver in the chain will stall the process.

Samsung Semiconductor, another Nsite user, has 400 sales representatives at 19 firms. It used to split commissions among the sales reps by sending a document through the 19 firms, a process that took up to 56 days. With the Nsite service, the same commission splitting can be accomplished in six days, Jandro says.

Taylor says Remec used to do capital requisitions and purchase authorizations with paper documents sent through the mail to manufacturing and office locations throughout Southern California. As routes changed, documents were mislaid or lost and approvals delayed.

The Nsite business-process site has forms associated with standard business processes, such as travel authorization, purchase orders, capital requisitions, and expense reporting.

Nsite is priced on a subscription basis beginning at $40 per month for one business process for 10 users.

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