Active Packets - An Active Packet represents an instance of a process
In the real paper based world, when work moves from one person or one department to another, it is often in a "packet". This packet contains all or most of the information needed to do the next task, and other information for reference, as well as all the completed tasks.
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When a user creates a new process in Ingenuus, essentially they create a new process packet similar to one in the paper world. It is both the process application (the user interface or forms) and the document database. It presents the fields users will complete to input information relevant to the process and the associated document or documents. It provides process information to the users such as task assignments, process information, links to documents, URLs, other packets, etc. It collects revision controlled documents, and attachments.
Access to the packet, its data and documents are controlled at the process level. It is the platform for integration to external systems - data can be published or imported at any step in the process.
The Active Packet records the history (audit trail) of everything that happens during the process, and the information associated with it.
Front Line and Process Optimization Processes are both Active Packets. Each new process instance basically creates a new Active Packet for that specific instance.
What makes a Packet Active?
An example might be helpful. For the sake of this discussion, let us assume that we are creating a Software License Agreement (SLA).
After logging into Ingenuus, a user will select ‘New’ and a bunch of options will appear to them. They choose ‘SLA Process’. A new instance of that process is created as well as a new Active Packet representing that process. The Active Packet is automatically opened, and the screens that appear will only be relevant to the creation or editing of an SLA. The Active Packet for SLA becomes in effect the SLA Application capable of collecting data through form fields, having documents under revision control linked, files of any type attached, and process information specific to this instance of the SLA process available. They will be required to fill in fields (metadata) related to this specific SLA. When they click ‘Send’, they are done with their task(s). If they were to choose to create an expense report, the screens would look entirely different.
After being “sent” an Active Packet follows the business rules established in the Active Packet Process Flow. This may move the packet to a single person at a time (serially) or many at once (parallel). At any step in the Process Flow, information that belongs to the Packet can be exported (published) to an external data source such as ERP, Finance, etc. In the same way, information can be imported from external data sources.
Unlike workflow, Active Packet Process Flows follow a set of rules that are defined separately for each step in the flow chart. Each step can require more than one activity take place. Access to the Packet and the information in it is controlled at each step in the process.
The business rules found in Active Packet Process Flows are ‘configured’ (not coded) by Business Line Managers not a consultant, or IT specialist.
Business rules provide control of the Active Packet Process Flow. Business rules can be simple or very complex, and are built utilizing the standard fields in the Active Packet, as well as any custom fields. Business Rules are powerful enough to allow for configured timings of tasks based on any field in the Active Packet. For example, Active Packets where the user has selected “Standard” as the priority could be given 5 business days to complete the task. On another Active Packet the user may have selected “Rush” as the priority - the Business Rules would then change the completion time to 1 business day.
Unlike other solutions, the Active Packet does not end at the release of a document or a file. It can continue until the process is fully complete, based on what you think complete means. Post release activities can be defined and managed reducing miscommunication and enhancing collaboration.
Once the Active Packet Process Flow is complete, it remains available in the system as a sort of archive of that process. Active Packets improve process visibility because process owners can query the system at any time to see where a packet sits within its defined process. Further, process owners can see the history of any packet in the system. This makes audits (Federal, FDA, SOX, etc.) a breeze.
A packet can be monitored in real time to see bottlenecks, potential for automation, need for process redesign, etc.
As in real life, you may link one process to another to better map what happens in your company.