Orchestrating processes across systems


In every company there are processes in which many systems, departments and employees are in-volved. The more often such a process is executed and the more standardized it is, the more the central and cross-system orchestration of the process makes sense.

What is a cross-system process?

What a cross-system process is, is best explained with an example. As an example, let's use the onboarding of a new supplier at a retailer, e.g., a home improvement store with many stores and an online store.
When a mutual business interest arises on the part of both the dealer and the supplier, various pro-cesses and tasks are started. Let's take a look at the rough process of onboarding a new supplier on the dealer side:

  • Check assortment: Does it fit into the existing assortment?
  • Requesting physical product samples and assessing them in terms of quality/haptics
  • Request assortment list (list of all products), price list and product data sample from supplier
  • Rough assessment of the prices together with the assortment: Does it fit into your own assortment?
  • Assess data quality & perform potential analysis (calculation of potential in terms of sales and margin)
  • Evaluate logistics possibilities of the supplier, if necessary refine potential analysis with two variants: dispatch by supplier with longer delivery time and dispatch from dealer's warehouse with shorter de-livery time.
  • Carry out legal clarifications and price negotiations, draw up and sign contracts.
  • Technical connection: Implement interfaces for product data, inventories, orders, cancellations, re-turns, etc.
  • Planning of the communication of the additional assortment to customers and internally
  • Data import and data preparation

Figure: Logistics chain and its global networking.

For the online store:

  • If necessary, open new categories in the online store
  • Place products hidden (not visible to customers) in the online store
  • Perform tests of all processes with the supplier (orders, deliveries, returns, etc.)
  • Live switching of the products in the online store
  • In operation: monitor sales, monitor supplier SLA (supplier delivery times, availability) and discuss regularly with supplier

For the store assortment:

  • Selection of products for the store assortment
  • Layout planning for the stores & rollout planning
  • -Carry out initial order
  • Training of store employees, if necessary
  • Rollout (distribute products to stores)
  • Monitor sales and ensure reordering/replenishment

Of course, this is a fictitious selection of activities, probably incomplete and ultimately different in every retail company. But it is amazing how many activities come together in supplier onboarding and how many processes have to be initiated!

If you look at the different tasks, it is obvious that many departments and people are involved, that there are many interactions and that many different tools have to be used.
This is a classic and clear example of a cross-system process, i.e. a process in which many people from several departments are involved, who have to operate different systems for the process.

What are the benefits of orchestrating processes across systems?

As a retail company, you naturally want the integration of the new and additional product range to be economically worthwhile. But you also want every new supplier and business partner to be treated professionally at all times and for everything to run smoothly. Or to put it another way: The experience with the retail company, should be positive for new suppliers at every contact and interaction.

For larger retail companies, where many new suppliers go through onboarding every year, it is difficult to make all supplier onboardings consistent and perfect without a centrally managed process. The central orchestration of the onboarding process, including all activities and tasks, is very important. Considering the example above, as the person responsible for category management, there is no way around thinking about how and with which tools you could centrally orchestrate the onboarding process.

An overview of the advantages that a clean implementation of cross-system processes brings with it:

  • A portal with a uniform user interface
  • Reduction of media discontinuities and reduction of manual typing
  • Reduction of effort and increase of efficiency and productivity
  • Reduction of response and processing times
  • Uniform processes and no deadline is forgotten
  • Increased transparency of processes, recognition of bottlenecks and bottlenecks
  • Increase of user experience
  • Process logic in the system and not in the heads of the employees
  • Reduction of human errors and increase of process and data quality
  • Faster onboarding of new employees and easier scaling as demand increases

Other cross-system processes can be found in any medium/large company.
Here are some examples:

  • Onboarding of a new employee
  • Opening of a new branch
  • Development of a product
  • Execution of a customer project (e.g. organization of an event, introduction of a software solution, etc.)

The more often such a process is carried out and the more standardized it is, the more it makes sense to think about the cross-system orchestration of this process.

How can you orchestrate cross-system processes?

Before you can orchestrate processes across systems, you have to know exactly what you need, i.e., exactly what the processes should look like. For this purpose, it is worthwhile not to use the existing processes 1:1, but to scrutinize them thoroughly and, if necessary, to redesign them. In doing so, it makes sense not only to make optimal use of the digital possibilities, but above all to focus on the user or the different user groups and to design the processes in a user-centric way in order to lay the foun-dation for a good user experience.

A meta-application integrates systems, orchestrates processes across systems and offers users a uniform user interface (see figure below).

For the implementation, a kind of umbrella is needed, a meta-application, which can be "superim-posed" on the existing systems. This meta-application must offer interfaces and possibilities to easily integrate the existing systems and applications, as well as the ability to map workflows. In addition, the users of the cross-system process must also be offered a consistent user interface that is optimized for all process steps and use cases and offers the best usability.
But this is not the end of the story!

The following overview of requirements for such a screen or meta-application can serve as a checklist:

  • Appealing, easily available and simple user interface (e.g. web portal)
  • User-friendly for users and usable on different devices (browser: desk-top/tablet/mobile, possibly APP)
  • Workflows can be mapped very individually
  • Possibility to automate workflows with logics and rules
  • Simple, "intelligent" forms that guide through the workflows
  • Automatic generation and assignment of tasks
  • Automatic generation and sending of documents
  • Flexible authorization system with groups and roles
  • Performant and scalable
  • Stable and highly available
  • Secure (cybersecurity, data protection, etc.)
  • Flexible and expandable
  • Proven and future-proof solution

A meta-application or better a platform that covers the above requirements is ServiceNow®.

What is ServiceNow®?

The Now platform, as ServiceNow® is also called, is a cloud-based platform on which applications of various kinds can be developed and operated.
ServiceNow® is constantly being further developed, is used by 7,400 companies worldwide (and over 250 in Switzerland) and helps these companies to drive forward the digital transformation and in-crease productivity.

ServiceNow® is ideally suited for digitizing business processes. Read also "What is ServiceNow®? ...and why it is important to know"


In order to offer an excellent experience to internal and external users, you need processes and work-flows that are optimally tailored to their needs and orchestrated across systems and companies.

If you are confronted with this requirement or challenge, then you should definitely consider Ser-viceNow® as a solution!

We, Arctive AG, are a very experienced ServiceNow® partner, developing enterprise applications and solutions for customers from different industries. Since we want only the best for our customers, we rely exclusively on ServiceNow®.
Do you have questions about ServiceNow® technology or would you like to know how ServiceNow® can help your company to increase user experience and productivity?
We are happy to answer your questions without obligation and look forward to hearing from you!

- Walter

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