The work on process support is decisive for the process of digitisation. Research points in the same direction as the results of the use of the checklist paradigm that are achieved by cBrain.

Read the full interview and articles on checklists and process support

By Jan Horsager

Processes are the ultimate components of digitisation. The basis for automation and IT support of work tasks is the possibility to convert processes into binaries of 1's and 0's. The ability to understand work tasks and convert these into processes is therefore of key importance when it comes to digitisation.

This is the area of research of Associate Professor Thomas Hildebrandt at the IT University of Copenhagen in the Ørestad district of the Danish capital. His research is part of the Computational Artifacts (CompArt) project funded by the Velux Foundation. This is the reason why cView has invited him and cBrain's Michael Madvig to talk about process support.

Michael Madvig is Solution Manager at cBrain and is in charge, among other things, of the work on converting work tasks into processes that can be supported by the F2 digital production system. Work dominated by a checklist paradigm that seems to be able to revolutionise the work on digital process support.

A swim lane diagram is the classic way to describe a process and show how tasks and sub-processes are connected by illustrating these in lanes. The lanes show who or when a task should be solved, and lines with arrows illustrate the sequences in which the tasks should be solved.

Most important information is left out
"A diagram is a way to see what the tasks in a process look like. But not why ? which means that the diagram leaves out the most important piece of information in a process," says Thomas Hildebrandt.

The swim lane diagram is translated by writing the software code that supports the tasks. However, this code can rarely meet conditions that are not known in a task or changes undertaken in connection with case handling.

"Process support should aim to completely remove the sequence of tasks and replace it with logical dependencies. Such dependencies should be stated in the subsequent activities so as to ensure that a certain action can only be undertaken after another action rather than have us deal with coding a sequence of actions," says Thomas Hildebrandt.

These are thoughts that support the results achieved by cBrain in its work in recent years on digital support of management processes. Michael Madvig tells about prolonged workshops that drew diagrams with tasks providing only an overall picture of the solutions to these tasks.

"Then someone pulled out a checklist of a drawer and said, "This is actually how we do it in practice!" and the checklist paradigm in F2 was born."

Closely related to everyday tasks
"Employees in an organisation might recognise a work process described in a swim lane diagram. But when we get a checklist on the table, users tend to discuss it in detail and revise simply because it is closely related to their daily tasks," says Michael Madvig. 

The checklist combines efficiency with variance depending on case handling and offers flexibility depending on the experience of the employees working on the case. And it is exactly the checklist paradigm that forms the basis of process support in F2. There is an editing tool developed in F2 that makes it possible to edit existing and create new checklists without programming and without involving gigantic consulting jobs or IT projects.

Read the full interview and articles on checklists and process support