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25

Process Modeler

What Is Process Modeler?



The Process Modeler is the first tool used in the Designer/2000 application development cycle. This tool is used to document business processes and information flows with a minimum of data processing terminology. It can be used to perform critical-path analysis as well as to animate a process. In addition, the process animation shows the time required to complete a process. Process diagrams can also be created for individual processes, thus enabling a top-down approach to documenting processes.

All data entered in the Process Modeler is stored in the Repository. Other tools in Designer/2000 will use this data.

Documenting Process Flows

The Process Modeler is used beginning with high-level analysis. Once business units and processes are recorded through interviews, they are entered into the Repository using this tool. Within the Process Modeler, detailed attributes can be kept for each step of a process, down to the lowest level. Figure 25.1 shows the major features of the Process Modeler screen.


Figure 25.1. Major Features of the Process Modeler.

Here are the steps to create a new Process Flow Diagram:

  1. Select File | New from the menu. The New Diagram dialog box appears (See Figure 25.2.)


Figure 25.2. The New Diagram pop-up window.

  1. Select the Create New Root Function button. This calls the Create New Process Step window. (See Figure 25.3.)


Figure 25.3. The Create New Process Step pop-up window is used to create all new process steps.

  1. Enter the name of the process step.

  2. Enter the short name of the process step.

  3. Select OK. This function becomes the root process step of the diagram.

Organization Units

Organization Units are displayed down the left side of the main Process Modeler window. To the right, each organization unit has a colored band, called a swim lane. The process steps, stores, and decision points belonging to that function are displayed in its swim lane.

When a project is first opened, there is one organization unit, Unspecified, which always exists.

To create a new organization unit:

  1. Select the Organization Unit button on the Toolbar.

  2. Select the organization unit, which will be the parent of the unit being created. Or select Unspecified to create an organization unit without parents. This opens the Create Organization Unit dialog box. (See Figure 25.4.)


Figure 25.4. Enter basic organization data in the Create Organization Unit dialog box.

  1. Enter the name and short name of the organization unit.

  2. Optionally, enter the cost of the organization unit. There is a drop-down list for the unit of cost.

  3. Select OK. The main screen will show the new organization unit. (See Figure 25.5.)


Figure 25.5. Organization units. Note the relationship between the Production and Design units.


TIP: If an organization unit is entered at the wrong place in the hierarchy, its parent can be changed in the Organization dialog box.

When an organization unit is first created in the Modeler, its swim lane is tall enough for one box. (The Modeler handles most of the details of placing and connecting boxes.) This is easily adjusted. Just select the organization unit and press Shift-down arrow to make its swim lane taller.

Further details about an organization unit, including its size and description, may be entered via the Organization dialog box.

To enter further detail about an organization unit:

  1. Double-click the organization unit. The Organization dialog box appears (See Figure 25.6.)


Figure 25.6. Further detail can be entered via the Organization dialog box. Organizational hierarchy can also be changed here.

  1. Edit the appropriate fields.

  2. Select OK.


TIP: Organization units can be moved up and down the screen by selecting the organization unit and pressing the up or down arrows.

Process Steps

Process steps are the actual steps taken to accomplish larger tasks. In the Process Modeler, each step has a name and other data— such as completion time— associated with it.

To create a new process step:

  1. Select the Create Process Step button on the Toolbar.

  2. Select the spot on the swim lane for the process step. The Create Process Step dialog appears. (See Figure 25.7.)


Figure 25.7. The Create Process Step dialog box.


TIP: If the exact organization unit of a business function, store, or decision point is uncertain, place it in the Unspecified organization unit. It can easily be moved later, if necessary.

  1. Enter the definition and label for the process step.


NOTE: The label is used by the Repository as the name of the process step. It is limited to ten characters and must be unique.

  1. Select the type of process step from the drop-down list.

  2. Optionally, enter the total time and cost for this process step.


TIP: When you are creating a number of objects at once, shift-click the object's button on the Toolbar. This creates a new object every time you click on a swim lane. To escape this mode, click on another object or the Selection arrow.

To move a process step, drag it to the correct spot on the diagram. Notice that the process steps are placed on a grid. This grid is maintained by the Process Modeler. You can set the size of the grid in the Preferences dialog box.

To delete an object, select it and press the Delete key. A dialog box will appear asking you to confirm the deletion.


TIP: To create a diagram that documents a process step in greater detail, select the process step, then select File | Open Down from the menu. This opens a new diagram with the selected process step as its root process step.

Once a process step has been entered, more detailed editing is possible. Double-click on a process step to open its Edit Process Step dialog box.

There are five tabs on the Edit Process Step dialog box:

The Main tab is for detailed time and cost figures (See Figure 25.8.)


Figure 25.8. Use the Main tab to track time and cost details.

In the Time area, enter either the total time for the process, or more detailed time entries for each category. Each category can be tracked by a separate unit of time.


NOTE: If time is entered in the detail areas, their total will overwrite the figure in the Total box.

In the Cost area, enter either the total cost for the process, or more detailed entries under Person or Overhead. Costs can be tracked individually by time unit or by unit.


NOTE: If cost is entered in the detail areas, the total cost will overwrite the figure in the Total box.

The Measured Time area is to record up to two measured times for this process step. Figures entered into this area are for documentation only, and are not carried forward into other processing.

The Organization Unit box shows the organization unit associated with this process step. The percentage of time spent box is for entering the percentage of time spent on this task by the organization unit. It is used only for reporting purposes.

The times in the Critical Path box are filled in when the Critical Path Analysis function is run. They show where this process step occurs in time.

The On Critical Path checkbox is also filled in by the Critical Path Analysis function. It is checked if the current process is on the critical path.

In the Frequency box, the frequency of this function can be entered.

The Specific tab shown in Figure 25.9 is for editing specific names and descriptions of this process step.


Figure 25.9. The Specific tab is used to edit the name and description of the process.

The Resources tab is for entering resources used, and for the quality yield of the process step. These are used for documentation only and do not affect anything else in the Repository. See Figure 25.10 for an example.


Figure 25.10. Enter resource requirements for a process step in the Resources tab.

The Multimedia tab controls the various display options that are available for this process step. Figure 25.11 is a picture of the Multimedia tab. It will be addressed in detail in the Multimedia section of this chapter.


Figure 25.11. The Multimedia tab controls display options for a process step.

The Text tab is where text is entered to fully describe a process step. Several kinds of text are available. You can view and enter up to two different text types at the same time. (See figure 25.12.) These are only used for documentation.


Figure 25.12. Document process steps and flows with the Text tab.

Stores

A store is a storage point for information or materials. It could be a filing cabinet, computer system, form, or any other kind of storage.

Stores are created in much the same way as process steps. There are three different kinds of stores, including data stores, material stores, and a generic store. The type of store can be changed at any time.

To create a store:

  1. Select the Create Store button on the Toolbar.

  2. Select the spot on the swim lane for the process step. The Create Store dialog appears. (See figure 25.13.)


Figure 25.13. The Create Store dialog box.

  1. Enter the definition and label for the store.

  2. Select the type of store from the drop-down list.

  3. Optionally, enter the total time and cost for this process step.


Data stores can not have time entries associated with them.

  1. Select OK. The store appears on the diagram in a rounded box, as shown in Figure 25.14.


Figure 25.14. The new store is shown on the process diagram.

Flows

A flow is a path for information or materials. It is represented on the diagram as an arrow pointing from the origin of the information to its destination. There are four different kinds of flows: data flows, material flows, temporal flows, and the default flow, which is simply called a flow. All flows on a diagram must connect two boxes on that diagram.

To create a flow:

  1. Select the Create Flow tool from the toolbar. Move the pointer to the object representing the origin of the flow, and drag it to the destination. The Create Flow dialog (see Figure 25.15) appears.


Be sure you drag the cursor in the direction of the flow.


To move a flow from one item to another, select the flow and drag each end individually to the other item. To reverse a flow, drag the arrow end of the flow line temporarily to another item. Then drag the origin of the flow to its proper place. Finally, drag the arrow into its final position.


Figure 25.15. Enter details about a flow in the Create Flow dialog box.

  1. Select the type of flow from the drop down list.

  2. Optionally, enter the time data.

  3. Select OK. The flow line is automatically routed between the two objects you connected. (See Figure 25.16.)


Figure 25.16. The Process Modeler creates the arrows denoting the flow.

Decision Points

A decision point is a point in a process where a business decision must be made. There will usually be more than one possible outcome from a decision point.

To create a decision point:

  1. Select the Create Process Step button on the Toolbar.

  2. Select the spot on the swim lane for the decision point. The Create Process Step dialog appears. (See figure 25.17.)


Figure 25.17. A decision point is a type of process step.

  1. Enter the definition and label for the process step.

  2. Select Decision Point from the Type of Process Step drop-down list.

  3. Optionally, enter the total time and cost for this decision point.

  4. Select OK.

Triggers and Outcomes

Triggers and outcomes are quite similar. A trigger is an event at the beginning of a process that starts the process. An outcome is the result of the process. A process can have multiple triggers and outcomes.

To create a trigger:

  1. Select Create Trigger from the Toolbar.

  2. Select the process step to which the trigger will be attached.


TIP: The trigger symbol is added to the left side of a process step. If the process step is immediately to the right of the organization unit heading, it will be covered by the heading. Move the process step one unit to the right to reveal the trigger.3

  1. Enter the text of the trigger in the Create Trigger dialog box, shown in Figure 25.18.


Figure 25.18. The Create Trigger dialog box.


TIP: For a clean diagram, make the trigger's first two words significant and short. The tool displays as much as it can on the diagram, and it will truncate the display of long names unless you adjust the font.

  1. Select OK. The trigger appears on the diagram as shown in Figure 25.19.


Figure 25.19. The completed trigger looks like this.

To create an outcome:

  1. Select Create Outcome from the Toolbar.

  2. Select the process step to which the outcome will be attached.

  3. Enter the text of the trigger in the Edit Outcome dialog box, shown in Figure 25.20.


Figure 25.20. The Edit Outcome dialog box.

  1. Select OK. The outcome appears on the diagram as shown in Figure 25.21.


Figure 25.21. The outcome from a process looks like this.

Critical Path

The Process Modeler can calculate the critical path for a process. It will take into account the times entered for each process step and flow. The critical path is shown in a contrasting color (the default is red) , and may be recalculated at any time (See Figure 25.22.).


Figure 25.22. The Process modeler displays the critical path of a process.

To display the critical path:

  1. Verify the time entries for each object.

  2. Select one object on the process diagram.


At least one diagram element must have time details entered before the critical path analysis is run.

  1. Select Utilities | Calculate Critical Path from the menu. The Critical Path Analysis dialog box appears. (See Figure 25.23.)


Figure 25.23. The Critical Path Analysis dialog box.

  1. Optionally, enter the start date and time. These default to the beginning of the current year.

  2. Another dialog box appears. Enter Yes if you want the time for the critical path to appear in the Total Time attribute for the base process (This is Make Custom-Printed Coffee Mugs in this example).

  3. Select OK. The critical path is displayed.

To turn off the critical path display, select Utilities | Reset Critical Path.

Exporting to Spreadsheets

The Process Modeler can export data for use in documentation, older versions of Oracle CASE, spreadsheets, or other CASE applications. It can export the entire diagram, or just export selected objects. It exports in the following five different formats:

The Oracle CASE 5.1 option is for users of the older version of Oracle CASE.

The two spreadsheet options produce comma-delimited spreadsheets that can be imported as text directly into many spreadsheets, including Microsoft Excel. These files are text files, and can be edited manually if a given spreadsheet does not import comma-delimited files (such as Quattro Pro.)

The Proprietary option exports to a proprietary format, which can be imported into another Process Modeler.

The Text option produces an ASCII text file describing the selected elements.

The Proprietary and Text export file types also allow the user to specify, in greater detail, which elements will be exported. This is done via a dialog box at the rime of the export.

To export data from the Process Modeler:

  1. Select Utilities | Export Data from the menu. The Export Data dialog box appears.

  2. Select the type of export to perform.

  3. Specify a file name for the export file.

  4. If Proprietary or Text are selected, select the elements you wish to export.


If any elements are blank, a dialog box will warn you. You may continue the export.

Preferences and Presentation Options

There are a number of preferences that can be set to control the appearance of a process flow diagram. These are set by selecting Edit | Preferences from the menu. See Figure 25.24.


Figure 25.24. The Graphical Preferences dialog box.

There are six major divisions of the Graphical Preferences dialog box.

Element allows you to specify colors, line width, and fonts for the selected element type, or for elements that are selected. The Type pull-down menu controls which element type is being reset.

Swim Lanes allows you to set the colors of the swim lanes. If the Use Organization Fill Color box is set, the swim lanes will be the same color as the background of the corresponding Organization Unit box.

Layout has two items. Size sets the size of the cells and boxes on the diagram. The unit of measure for this is about a tenth of a millimeter. Critical Path allows you to reset the color of the critical path.

Animation Units allows you to specify the time unit that corresponds to each second in an animation.

Mode selects the display mode.

Display contains a number of display options. Two in particular are significant because they are not display options. Use Multimedia on Database specifies whether or not to store the file names (not the contents) of multimedia files in the Repository. Consolidate on Open specifies whether or not to consolidate the diagram, which applies database changes to the diagram, when the diagram is opened.


You can select Edit | Consolidate | All from the menu at any time to consolidate a diagram.

The OK button applies preference changes for the current session only.

The Save button saves the preferences to the database.

Once your preferences are set, consider the display of the diagram itself.

There are three different ways to display a process flow diagram.

Symbol

Symbol is the default presentation type. Each element or decision point is shown as a rectangle. Stores are shown as soft boxes. The total time for each element is shown in the unit specified for that element. Select View | Symbol from the main menu, or Symbol from the Mode group of the Preferences menu to set this display mode. Figure 25.25 shows part of a diagram in Symbol mode.


Figure 25.25. The Symbol view is Modeler's default.

Enhanced Symbol

Enhanced Symbol mode is a different version of Symbol mode, which resembles the traditional programmer's flowchart. In this mode, elements have differing shapes based on their functions. The time for each element is not displayed. Select View | Enhanced Symbol from the main menu, or Enhanced Symbol from the Mode group of the Preferences menu to set this display mode. Figure 25.26 points out the different shapes used in Enhanced Symbol mode.


Figure 25.26. This view shows the different shapes in Enhanced Symbol mode.

Iconic

In the iconic mode, objects are represented by icons. Each object can be associated with its own icon. The icons can be animated. This is the only view where animations are played.

When animations are played, the icons attached to each process step play for an amount of time proportional to the time they take in the overall process. The total elapsed time for the process appears at the bottom right of the main view. (See Figure 25.27.) Select View | Iconic from the main menu, or Iconic from the Mode group of the Preferences menu to set this display mode.


Note: When an animation is started, the view switches to Iconic.


Figure 25.27. The iconic view is used for presentation to the user.

Animating Icons

The icons shown in the iconic view are animated automatically by the Process Modeler. A number of icons are provided with the tool; however, it is quite easy to create custom animated icons.

When displaying an icon, the Process Modeler looks at the icon name. If the icon name is xxx1.bmp, it will try to load xxx2.bmp and xxx3.bmp as well. If it is successful, it will animate the icons in a loop.

To create custom animated icons for an object:

  1. Use any image editor to create a group of three icons, named xxx1.bmp through xxx3.bmp. Store them all in the same directory.


NOTE: All three image files should be the same size and color palette. Oracle recommends a maximum of 32 by 32 pixels for best performance.

  1. In the Icon section of the Edit Process Step dialog box (under the Multimedia tab), store the name of the first image file.

To play an animation

  1. Select the process step where the animation is to start.

  2. Press the Play Animation button on the toolbar.

Multimedia

Multimedia capabilities can be used to enhance process flow presentations. Each step in a process can have an image, sound, video, or program attached to it. Figure 25.28 shows the Configuration—Basic dialog box.


Figure 25.28. The Configuration - Basic dialog box.

The User-Defined Commands section allows you to specify up to five programs. These can be run using the Tools | User Defined Command menu selection.

The File Locations section specifies directories where the Process Modeler will look for various types of files.

The Multimedia Commands section specifies commands that will be used to play or edit multimedia components.

Once this configuration is set, you attach a multimedia command to a process step by using the Multimedia tab of the Edit Process Step dialog box. Select the multimedia option you want to use by pressing its Browse button. The Multimedia Select dialog appears. (See Figure 25.29.) When you select a file, it appears in the Preview area. Select OK to attach the multimedia file to the process step.


Figure 25.29. The Multimedia Select dialog box.

Once you have associated multimedia files to process steps, you can play the files by selecting the process step, then select the appropriate play button from the toolbar.

Summary

The Process Modeler is used to document business processes, whether or not they will be automated. It is used to record organization units and their associated functions in the Designer/2000 Repository. Objects created using the Modeler are used to create data for further steps in Designer/2000. Any object in the Process Modeler can have a variety of descriptive text associated with it. Organization units may be placed in a hierarchy within the Modeller. Process steps are placed to the right of their associated organization units in graphic blocks called swim lanes. Flows of data or materials in a process are shown as arrows. Each flow and process step can have its elapsed time recorded. This enables the Modeller to perform critical path analysis on a process. For presentation purposes, the Modeller can animate the process flows with a user-defined icon at each step. In addition, each object and process step can have multimedia files attached to it.

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