Advantages of using an automated control system for multiple transactions

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1 Advantages of using an automated control system for multiple transactions White Paper By Boris Shapira, Ph.D.

2 White Paper 2 Copyright 2010 Control s Force. All rights reserved. While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information in this document is accurate and complete, some typographical errors or technical inaccuracies may exist. Control s Force does not accept responsibility for any kind of loss resulting from the use of information contained in this document. The information contained in this document is subject to change without notice. The incorporation of the product attributes discussed in these materials into any release or upgrade of any Control s Force software product as well as the timing of any such release or upgrade is at the sole discretion of Control s Force. U.S. Patent Pending This edition was published on January 2010

3 White Paper 3 Executive Summary Every organization wants its core business processes to be executed accurately, thus reducing the risk of financial loss. System errors, human mistakes and outright fraud cost businesses worldwide untold billions of dollars each year. Fraud alone accounts for nearly one quarter of the waste in the US health care industry. Today s business processes, which rely on automated systems to manage them, are not fully capable of achieving this objective. A core business processes of any organization is long-running such as buying or selling and typically consist of many business and IT processes. To monitor the entire business process instance is a very difficult task. Generally, medium to large size organizations also employ a staff of controllers and auditors who look for inconsistencies in reports that are provided by different IT systems. Controllers are supposed to detect fraud and inaccuracy before the business loss occurs, while auditors try to recover lost money that the controllers failed to detect in time. However, even a large number of controllers and auditors are unable to monitor and control every one of the thousands of long-running transactions, that are executed in large organizations across distributed IT systems, humans and documents. In this paper, we discuss an automated system for transactional control and monitoring across distributed IT systems and documents which would provide these benefits: Empower controllers with technology to keep long-running business transactions under strict control. Allow fewer controllers and auditors to effectively monitor a greater flow of data. Provide real-time alerts and dashboard features that enable ongoing monitoring and control of multiple long-running core transactions simultaneously. Provide timely security and transactional information management to detect insider fraud schemes. Identify any discrepancy in transactional data to keep distributed information secure. Reduce the need for time-consuming and expensive system integration and/or software development projects to improve existing production system. The approach described below allows organizations to model almost any practical task as a long running business transaction processing (LRP), and to use the same software system for transactional control and monitoring. As a result, organizations can construct a wide range of new and important business solutions using the same prebuilt templates and components.

4 White Paper 4 Long running business transactions LRP is a transaction that affects a multiplicity of business processes carried out by at least one IT system. Each business process is managed separately, thus a transaction that ends in one business process, is not processed straight away in the other business processes. That s what makes LRP different from short running or STP (Straight-Trough-Processing) transaction. Although STP transaction is executed within seconds, LRP may take hours, days and even months and years from beginning to end. The main causes that make a transaction long running, is the involvement of the following in its execution: Human Different organizations (firewall perimeters) Distributed IT systems Multiplicity of business processes A purchase transaction that is executed using just one ERP system is LRP, because there are people that input data into ERP system, multiplicity of business processes, (like order creation, invoice approval and payment), and at least two different organizations: buyer and supplier. Another example of LRP transaction is a database record life cycle management (customer profile, item master, etc). It starts from the time the record is created and runs until its eventual disposal. There is multiplicity of database transactions in the record life cycle management that continuously change the record s status and data fields. Furthermore, these processes in distributed IT environment are executed in different IT systems separately. From this point of view, data associated with an Item Master, across a manufacturing enterprise is available in ERP, Inventory Management and at different enterprise sites (production entities). The LRP transaction in this case is built for each Item Master, across all IT systems where the data related to this Item Master is available. Understanding transactional risks Transactional risks are the kind of operational risks that cannot be identified in one point of time or in workflow process. To be detected, a transactional risk requires a LRP transaction monitoring through different business processes (different workflows), systems and documents. The examples of transactional risks are well known: Human data entry errors in ERP and other business application

5 White Paper 5 Systems incompatibility errors Duplicate data entry Data loss (rather as a result of missing a continuous workflow than as a result of a system failure) Overspending (over billing, overpayment) Employees fraud schemes Generally, every risk listed above has one common similarity; to detect it you need to compare the current data value with the same data that previously came from another data source or data tables, using process context for comparison. Process context means that comparing data belongs to one process instance only. The process context may be interpreted as history associated with the same information object. For example, a data entry error in ERP would be detected if this input data typed into ERP is compared with the content received from the original document that came before the data entry. Transactional risk is a real problem for any organization. It cannot be solved by relying on system automation, integration, business process management (BPM), compliance management, etc. The traditional technologies mentioned, and regulatory acts fail to bring remedy to prevent transactional risk because business systems cannot recognize input data error or input loss; these systems cannot secure themselves against people that wish to evade applied policies by the given access rights. Some of the transactional risks, like employees fraud schemes, can only be identified in real time. Once human and system exceptions have occurred, in a multiple (long-running) business transaction, they continue to be processed and may never be disclosed. An example of long running business transaction: Purchase process The following scenario describes the process instance applied to Purchasing. This process is divided into a series of business processes (activities), performed by different organizations around the world. 1. The buyer builds Purchase Order using ERP or legacy system, gets it approved and posts it to the supplier. 2. The supplier prepares a package of ordered goods for shipping and an Invoice Document to the client (buyer). 3. The supplier contacts the carrier with a Shipping Order prepared in ERP system. 4. The carrier receives a package of the ordered goods and adds a Delivery Note prepared in ERP system.

6 White Paper 6 5. The supplier posts the Invoice Document prepared in ERP system to the buyer. 6. The buyer receives the Invoice Document from supplier and the clerk enters it into Document Management System. 7. Buyer s account payable clerk types Invoice Document data into ERP system. The Invoice Document is processed by ERP system for its validation and approval making it an Invoice Record. 8. Once the Invoice Record is approved, the ERP s automated activity creates a Voucher and assigns an effective date of payment. 9. Once the package is delivered by the carrier, the buyer s warehouse clerk types the Delivery Note data into ERP system and updates the inventory record, based on the received shipping order. 10. On the effective date the buyer s ERP system automatically sends a wire transfer request to the bank for Payment. 11. The bank s automated system performs a wire transfer of money from buyer s account. This scenario is an example of an LRP transaction where 4 separate organizations are involved (buyer, supplier, carrier and bank), at least 3 disconnected ERP systems and data entry clerks. No system can trigger the business processes described above for managing the entire transaction. Note: With process instance #1 (initial Purchase Order) many process instances can be associated from #2 to #11, as well as process instance #8 (initial Payment) can be associated with many Invoice Documents. These are just some of the reasons that make automated management of LRP transactional application very complicated. Control s Force Technology Control s Force software, Transaction Watchdog platform, enhances control and monitoring of multiple business transactions, through distributed IT systems and people. Transaction Watchdog platform, prevents transactional risks, while improving information security and business efficiency. Transaction Watchdog platform is based on three technological foundations: Data-centric process modeling to define or configure predefined data models for process instance control and identification. Message correlation and validation engine to correlate application level messages, across an organization to the LRP transaction they belong to. Real-time notification and API to provide the ability to create custom alerts and report systems based on the read-only Transaction Watchdog database, that saves all information associated with specific LRP transaction.

7 White Paper 7 These fundamental elements, deployed in Transaction Watchdog platform, allow IT personnel, with minimum collaboration of business people, to construct different applications (solutions). These solutions are implemented without the need to understand business process workflow, programming, information or system integration. Control s Force Transaction Watchdog solutions The range of comprehensive software products for transactional control in different business areas may be built based on Transaction Watchdog Platform: Buying Transaction Watchdog and Record Transaction Watchdog, are just some of the solutions. Buying Transaction Watchdog will allow the monitoring and controlling of multiple buying transactions, executed in single or distributed ERP system while identifying transactional risks, such as: Invoice data entry errors Bypass the process (Invoice without PO sent and approved, payment without Invoice) Duplicate invoice/payment Payee info altering as a part of fraud scheme, when the user has all the required access rights Record Transaction Watchdog can monitor and control the record and the information associated with the record across distributed IT systems, since the record status is changed in one of the systems up to the next status change event. The detected transactional risks depend on the rules that are applied to the data collected from different systems which are related to the given record status. Each such Transaction Watchdog solution includes the following software components: WAN / LAN IT System Adaptor TW Engine ARM Server Monitor Mail Server

8 White Paper 8 1. Web service based adapter receives messages defined in the data centric process model and sends them to the engine. As process information is scattered in various locations, the adapter is required per each data source. 2. The process model based engine correlates and validates messages provided by adapter(s) to identify transactional risks. The engine doesn t require any customization or code to be deployed at runtime. 3. Alert Resolution Manager (ARM) that provides real-time notification to the business and IT users and manages resolution process with a decision maker. 4. Monitor that provides transaction state visibility and transactional risks dashboards and reports. All the components described above, communicate via internet/intranet and therefore, can be installed in different company s locations. The Engine provided with Transaction Watchdog platform can simultaneously support several process models that belong to different business areas. This is in contrast to Transaction Watchdog solution, where Engine supports only one process model. Summary Established on the new data-centric process model-based technology, Control s Force Transaction Watchdog platform allows customers to build, without programming IT solutions for automated control and monitoring of their long-running core business transactions. These solutions open a door to new business areas where conventional BPM, risk and information management technologies fail to help businesses increase their efficiency and secure information better against the fraud and human errors. Any complex business task that requires tracking information across different channels, accounts, users, and transaction types can be presented as a type of long-running (multiple) transaction. Control s Force enables one to put process context into application message analysis. Message correlation engine allows one to apply simple rules to compare the content of current message with the previously correlated messages received from a different system. This way it assures transaction accuracy, information integrity and fraud scheme detection before a business loss can occur. Customers that use Transaction Watchdog platform have already recognized the strong capabilities of the Buying Transaction Watchdog application. They were satisfied with the following benefits: Substantial saving of control costs 100% detection of human data exceptions and other inconsistencies in real time Clear ROI that is shown within days after deployment

9 White Paper 9 Real alternative to the expensive IT projects (like SOA, BPM, MDM, etc) To learn more about Control s Force and our solutions please refer to For any questions or clarification request please contacts us at:

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