|Written by Christine Robinson|
Technologies and professional disciplines exist today through Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Business Process Management (BPM) to design and implement systems that can vastly improve emergency response capabilities for responding to a potential global disaster such as a swine flu pandemic. EA and BPM accomplish this through modernized business processes, BPM software (BPMS), system-integrated solutions, consortiums dedicated to modernizing Information Technology, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and other improvements.
This begins with Enterprise Architecture (EA), which delivers business solutions enabled by technology, and in the case of a possible swine flu pandemic, a global health emergency response. Within EA, the discipline of BPM Business Process Management (BPM) applies continuous process improvement enabled by technologies. The US government relies extensively upon the Federal EA framework, Department of Defense Architecture Framework, and others to design EA. According to John Dodd, CSC EA consulting practice lead and chair of the EA Special Interest Group for the Industry Advisory Council, which advises the US federal government Chief Information Officer and chief architect community, says that “the strategic framework for global health care begins by aligning the EA to an organization’s strategy, budget, architecture, and performance to achieve massive improvements in the ability to deliver emergency responses for health care and other mission critical services.” A strategic framework can incorporate individual countries’ emergency processes and systems into a global emergency health response.
Implementing BPMS that automates business processes often residing in notebooks, in people’s heads, and in separate systems that don’t relate to one another can lead toward vast improvements in organizational efficiency and exponential improvements in emergency response. The most powerful BPMS programs, with institutional knowledge built into business processes and business rules that drive decision-making, can integrate with databases to collect information about the number of swine flu cases occurring in each reporting authority and automatically set in motion an emergency response.
“A robust, complete BPM solution can be a tremendous asset in coordinating activities, such as communications or tracking, around a pandemic or epidemic event,” said Dr. Setrag Khoshafian, noted BPM expert and VP of BPM technology at Pegasystems Inc. “BPM tremendously enhances the responsiveness around these situations through its automated and digitized policies and procedures. BPM supports agility and change – your disaster recovery BPM solutions can be easily changed and specialized. You can respond to the events depending upon the location, severity, the demographics, and other factors. BPM helps you achieve situational responses. The automation of policies and procedures in BPM minimizes the potential for people becoming bottlenecks in the processes and enables them to focus on tasks where they are truly needed and could have the most benefit. Using BPM around the processes and rules of such events ensures a concise and systematic approach that makes sure that proper procedures are being followed and adhered to.”
Today, a number of academic, industry, and government communities are actively seeking to improve inter-communication between a variety of sources such as government, non-profit, industry, and the public. The Health Information Environment represents one of the most visible and critical information-sharing environments. EA and BPM provide the framework for developing and managing a global health care system, defense system, or any other major system incorporating data from numerous sources.
Academic research institutions are now addressing the challenges facing those who would build, protect, and evolve large scale environments, where multiple organizations share information: for the US Department of Defense, health care, transportation, and other domains. Kevin Sullivan, a professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia, is leading the Center for Ultra Large Scale Software-Intensive Systems (ULSSIS), with a planning grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the support of industry leaders such as CSC, and with additional research sites at the Vanderbilt University, the University of California San Diego, and Michigan State University. Sullivan says, “An all-out industry-university-government collaborative research effort is now essential to produce the breakthroughs needed to improve our ability to build and manage the systems of the future. ULSSIS provides a national vehicle for this work.”
From a technology perspective, SOA, which facilitates the integration and exchange between different systems that may not have communicated with one another, enables them to share within a much broader global community. The US defense community recognizes the benefits from adopting SOA. Kevin Moore, CIO of the US Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM), which inducts military recruits into all of the US armed services, led efforts that dramatically improved organizational efficiency. He said, “Implementing a SOA, nearly two years ago, has been extremely beneficial to USMEPCOM. It has reduced our IT development to production costs and the amount of time it takes; it has facilitated greater integration of our systems with our stakeholders' systems; it has provided an automated business process and Workflow Management capability that supports business modeling; and has been an essential part of our overall transformation strategy both from a business perspective as well as an IT perspective.”
System integration based upon a strategic EA framework offers the foundation for automating Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery as much as possible. The Senior Director for Global Public Sector Market Research at Oracle, the world’s second largest software company, Lewis Carr, stated that “the systems available today can take data from different sources around the world and, based on the policies and guidelines set by public health and government agencies tasked with detection, study and control of communicable diseases, data collection and use policies can be automated using….BPMS automated process, directing systems to sort, alert, and set in motion whole series of human and system processes, increasing the probability of averting and containing a world health or other disaster of monumental proportions.”
Today’s systems can automatically execute pre-defined processes designed into powerful BPMS integrated within and between participating organizations to plan for and respond to a global health or other imminent disaster. The trick is to find the right match of business process and technologies. This conceptual approach fits into the existing frameworks around the world that govern the design of business processes and Information Technology systems, some of which may sound familiar such as Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) that originated in Great Britain, Capability Maturity Model Index (CMMI) that originated at Carnegie Mellon University for software development, Disaster Recovery International Incorporated (DRII,) that governs international Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, the international professional organization named Control Objectives for Information Technology (COBIT), Lean Six Sigma that addresses quality improvement, and others that may apply within individual countries or sectors.
The concept of how work is done, otherwise known as workflow, sits at the very heart of identifying and improving the business processes that health care and other organizations perform in order to provide their services to their constituencies. Professionals trained in this field can model processes and process components using standards specifically designed for this purpose such as Business Process Management Notation (BPMN), BPEL, and UML. These artifacts are governed by the BPMS lifecycle; from design time business analysis, data architecture, and other requirements to execution in a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) environment. Linus Chow, Public Sector Chair of the Workflow Management Coalition, an international organization dedicated to improving workflow and enabling technologies, states that “there is something profound in aligning the business and technology stakeholders with shared and understood goals and objectives that can vastly improve global health and other operations.”
From a technology perspective, SOA would be an enabler that can help business, government, and non-profit organizations achieve vast improvements in efficiency and cost reduction. SOA facilitates the integration and exchange between individual systems that may have only communicated within a specific community and enables them to share in a much broader base, using existing software, hardware, and data rather than having to completely redesign systems in order to modernize and save costs. The US defense community recognizes the benefits from adopting SOA. Kevin Moore, CIO of US Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM), which inducts military recruits into the all of the US armed services, led efforts that dramatically improved organizational efficiency. He said, “Implementing a SOA, nearly two years ago, has been extremely beneficial to USMEPCOM. It has reduced our IT development to production costs and the amount of time it takes; it has facilitated greater integration of our systems with our stakeholders' systems; it has provided an automated business process and Workflow Management capability that supports business modeling; and has been an essential part of our overall transformation strategy both from a business perspective as well as an IT perspective.”
System integration based upon a strategic EA framework represents the foundation of making global health care, defense, and other large-scale environments as automated as possible, starting with comprehensive and efficient business processes driven by business rules. These systems can rely upon the Internet, BPM, powerful databases, state-of-the art hardware and software solutions, while thoroughly managing the life cycle and making sure that all the systems’ processes work effectively. Processes for normal operations and emergency operations built into BPMS and other automated systems help remove human intervention, or lack thereof, which is so often the cause of breakdowns in process.
The Senior Director for Global Public Sector Market Research at Oracle, the world’s second largest software company, Lewis Carr, stated that “the systems available today can take data from different sources around the world and, based on the policies and guidelines set by public health and government agencies tasked with detection, study and control of communicable diseases, data collection and use policies can be automated using Enterprise Policy Automation (EPA) and implemented by BPMS automated process, directing systems to sort, alert, and set in motion whole series of human and system processes, increasing the probability of averting and containing a world health or other disaster of monumental proportions. On the other hand, such systems can also ensure that pandemic threats do not become panics that needlessly reduce economic output through unnecessary business closures, travel reductions and school and public space closures.
A number of organizations have recognized the potential for this approach such as the US Congress, the international industry analyst IDC-Government Insights, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other parties within industry and government.
This EA and BPM enabled approach can govern all the components required for effective 21st Century emergency preparedness and response. Peter Andersen, CSC IT architect of one of the most advanced architectures for emergency preparedness and disaster recovery and some of the most complex technical systems in the world, said, "collaboration, coordination and communication are important components of the response to a world-wide health crisis.” All who play a part need the ability to collaborate in varying ways to facilitate timely and efficient response. “Essential collaboration capabilities need to include secure and auditable electronic or virtual meetings and secure document sharing and white-boarding. Integrated technology provides a common platform for email, fax, text messages, voice (e.g., cellular, standard telephone systems, satellite, etc.), radio, web, and disparate radio systems operating on multiple radio frequencies - both analog and digital.” All system capabilities have a permanent audit trail.
Today’s technologies and professional disciplines through Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Business Process Management (BPM) can help vastly improve emergency response capabilities for a potential global disaster such as a swine flu pandemic. Improved business processes for delivering emergency response; BPMS; system integrated solutions; consortiums comprised of participants from academic institutions, government, and industry who deliver new capabilities; SOA and other improvements together can help achieve dramatic improvements in Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery to benefit the global community.Mark Kagan, “Business Process Management Shows Solid Potential for Disaster Preparedness and Response,” IDC - Government Insights, 2009
About the Author: Christine Robinson
Christine Robinson has achieved international recognition for her vision for Enterprise Architecture, BPM, and emergency preparedness and disaster recovery, receiving an award for excellence in Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery in 2008. Her vision even inspired Congressional legislation and funding and government procurements beginning in 2008.Arlington County appointed Christine to the Arlington County IT Technical Advisory Commission where she serves as chair of the emergency communications subcommittee.
Christine’s vision has influenced industry and government. Her approach for emergency preparedness and disaster recovery led toward congressional legislation and funding for modernizing emergency preparedness and disaster recovery as well as government procurements incorporating her approach, beginning with FEMA. This is also becoming part of the Federal Enterprise Architecture and Segment Architecture. Industry analysts have also forecasted that her approach will become more widely recognized.
Christine has performed numerous senior leadership roles. As a principal consultant, Christine recently worked for CSC, which chose her approach for emergency preparedness and disaster recovery as one of eight new global cyber security offerings. Prior to joining CSC, she evaluated the US Treasury’s most critical emergency preparedness and disaster recovery plans for the systems that run the entire US monetary system and impact the world’s economy. Other roles include system engineering, information security, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, and BPM for SAIC and for Verizon, designing and implementing innovative domestic and international solutions.
Christine writes for international publication. International judges distinguished her paper “Transforming Health Care Through Enterprise Architecture and BPM” as one of the foremost papers featured in the “2009 BPM Handbook.” BPM.com features two of her articles, billing her most recent one as a “top story.” The “Common Defense Quarterly” will feature an upcoming article in the summer edition. She co-authored a chapter in 2009 for the World Future Society’s book “Seeing the Future with New Eyes.” The Intelligent Communities Forum will publish Christine’s chapter “Safety and Security in the Future City” in an upcoming book in September 2009, which is a prelude to her own book that Future Strategies plans to publish in 2010.
Christine has spoken at forums and conferences for the Disaster Recovery Journal, the Workflow Management Coalition, senior government officials, CSC, Capital Speaker’s Club, the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, and others.
Filed under: Christine Robinson by: Art Style and Design