FEBRUARY 10, 2022

Designing business process models from scratch requires a lot of resources, such as extensive system and modeling language knowledge as well as time. Hence, it can quickly become costly and prone to inaccuracy. Reusability is, therefore, an important concept, which allows a more sustainable way of working. It saves time and resources, reducing users’ work and the risk of making mistakes. 

In Software development, there is already a well-established concept around reusability. Best practices within it follow the saying: Don’t repeat yourself (DRY). It means you shouldn’t repeat the same code or logic. Every piece of knowledge needs to have a single point of truth, later being reused by different parts of the application code.  

This same concept can be applied to businesses and the automation of processes.  

In a highly competitive and fast-growing market, being able to decrease your time to market is essential. Organizations are progressively under pressure to adopt IT solutions that provide them with a competitive advantage. These solutions should facilitate the development and maintenance of their systems and processes. Intelligent Business Automation platforms such as Flowable are one of those solutions. Flowable combines flexible, model-driven application development and reusability to unlock business value faster - here is how:  

Reusability in Intelligent Business Automation 

Process modeling is typically used to describe a workflow, so we can understand, analyze and make improvements to it. One of the main reasons for using visual models rather than code to describe a solution is that it’s easy to share an understanding of what’s being described, as well as easy to change quickly.   

Model-driven, intelligent business automation platforms such as Flowable, enable customers to create a library of processes, cases, and decision modules that can be reused across multiple business activities. 

Rather than create a monolithic, end-to-end application, Flowable allows you to link modules into multiple different business applications. By using commonly known industry standards (BPMN, CMMN, and DMN), modelers do not need to learn some esoteric, propriety coding language to create functional business applications. 

Why should Businesses care about Reusability?  

In a highly competitive and fast-growing market, being able to decrease your time to market is essential. This means streamlining processes within the organization and increasing development speed.  

The good thing is, there is no need to reinvent the wheel here. Do it once, do it well, and have it as a foundation for all the following processes. For companies, using Intelligent Business Automation to create applications and process models and being able to then reuse them for different cases has many advantages.  

  • Faster, more efficient application development and shorter time to market  

Intelligent Business Automation platforms such as Flowable allow businesses to design flexible and tailor-made applications for customers and employees within a short time. 

After designing a business process component following the DRY approach companies can make use of this valuable piece of work by reusing it or parts or elements of this existing process model. Instead of investing time and resources in creating new process models for the same process sequences repeatedly, an existing process model can be reused and subsequently derive a set of further process models for future application development. A process modeling approach such as adapted by Flowable, makes the design of applications simple, flexible and reusable.  

  • Process Governance and compliance 

Reusing business models creates an overall comprehensive standard for all future applications. By simplifying the development process, it supports accuracy and diminishes the probability of making mistakes because of time constraints.  

It frees up time and people, as staff with less detailed knowledge in certain areas can design processes based on predefined models and components, making them long-lasting and creating a common basis for every future employee. 

  • Increased business agility and adaptability 

Furthermore, existing use cases can easily be adapted whenever a reusable model needs to be adjusted. Changes made to the original model will automatically apply to all the other use cases, unless otherwise specified.  

Overall, a model-driven approach, combined with reusability increases a business' agility. Let’s have a look at an example:  

How do businesses use reusability?  

Flowable has numerous clients in the finance and banking industry. Let’s take an example of a bank that needs to create an application to automate a credit or loan application process. This application will have several steps, one of them being a security check of the person applying. Within Flowable's model-driven platform, companies can create a process module for the security check, defining all necessary documents, information, and responsibilities within the process. 

Once this specific process has been defined it will be part of the credit/loan application. It can then be reused for different applications and processes. Let’s say the same organization is creating an application to automate the process of opening a bank account and within this application they will require the same security check. They can simply reuse this module within the application.   

Another example is the archiving of documents. For compliance reasons, an enterprise needs to ensure that all documents are archived in the same way and on the same system. The process that does the actual archiving is therefore centrally defined. Every use case then references it. In the future, if archiving needs to be adjusted, it can be done centrally without touching the existing use cases.    

When to consider Reusability?  

Reusing business process models will depend on the requirements and the needs of each business and the overall complexity of the designed application.  

Usually in cases, where we see a process following the same logic as in another place or even need to make sure that an application works in the same way as in another place, reusability is an enabler for fast and reliable application development. 

But even in more complex cases, changes and adaptations can be made without changing the entire process. Reusability doesn’t equal inflexibility. Businesses have control over how and when business process models are to be reused.

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