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Tasks Waiting for Input — Argh!

Tasks waiting for input during ProcessModel process improvement project.

Out of all the business process improvement problems we deal with, tasks waiting for input are the most frustrating. The ones I’m talking about are when you have 50 insurance policies that you are trying to underwrite and each one is waiting on some information from a variety of resources. Before completion, each policy may require several “touches and delays” over weeks of elapsed time. And it is not just in insurance, many industries have processes that are similar. This type of problem has been difficult to describe and difficult to model…until now.

We had several people ask for help in creating remarkably similar capabilities so we decided to tackle the problem in a way that it could be used in any model and even be used several times in the same model. Our main criteria was that it has to solve the problem and could be implemented in your model in under 2 minutes. The two minute criteria was aggressive because it took more than 10 hours to understand the problem and create a feature that can be used by a novice modeler.

Urban Dictionary: Argh

1. An exclamation of annoyance, exasperation, or other negative factor. 2. The sound a made by a stereotypical pirate.

Tasks Waiting for Input — Problem Description

  • An entity shall be shall require X hours to process, but X time cannot be completed in one step.
  • The elapsed time to complete X, shall be Y.
  • The number of times a resource will needed to complete X, shall be Z.
  • The number of Entities that shall be allowed to be in this cycle shall be C.
  • The resource used to work on the entity shall be R.
  • Allow distributions to be used for the definition of X, Y and Z.
  • Divide the elapsed time by the number of touches for an approximation of the time between touches.
  • Divide the processing time by the number of touches for an approximation of the “time per touch”
  • Design this section of model so that it can be duplicated by a simple copy and paste.
  • Make all entries changeable through scenario parameters. Make the scenario parameters increment for each new instance of the model segment.

Implementing the “Tasks Waiting for Input” Feature

The following are steps you need to take in order to use the new feature in a process simulation.

  1. Update all model objects. If you haven’t done this for a while, this could take a few minutes. There have been more than 180 new features added so be patient. To update model objects select the Model Objects/Check for Updates menu item.
  2. Select the model object by using the Model Objects/Insert menu item.
  3. Select the MISC category.
  4. Select Long Process Time – Short Resource Usage and select the insert button.
  5. Click on the screen where you would like to place the upper left corner of the model object.
  6. Route into and out of the model object.
  7. Change the default values for the scenario parameters.

Defining Routes

You will only need to connect to this activity and from this activity to the remainder of the model.

The Action Logic

The powerful yet simple language in ProcessModel allows complex logic to be defined as part of the model building process. Because this is predefined, the user will not need to write the logic for this complex interaction.

Tasks waiting for input by ProcessModel process simulation software

Simple logic defines a complex interaction of tasks waiting for input.

Easy Input

Each time this segment of the model is used in the same model the corresponding scenario parameters are added. You can simply go to the scenarios parameters dialog and enter the default values that define:

  • Expected elapsed time (can be a distribution).
  • Work content  (can be a distribution).
  • Number of times the resource will be used to complete work on this entity  (can be a distribution).
  • The capacity of the activity (how many of these entities will be allowed in process at the same time).
  • The name of the resource that you would like to have work at this activity.
Tasks waiting for input in ProcessModel process simulation software scenarios dialog

Parameters of tasks waiting for input are easily entered in one place using the scenarios parameter dialog.

The tasks waiting for input feature helps to accurately show the delay caused by incomplete information and helps to understand the resource usage over time to complete a delayed entity.

I hope this helps all of you that are looking for ways to code this scenario for business process improvement. If you need help with other scenarios, leave me a comment and I will try my best to reply to them. Best of luck implementing Tasks Waiting for Input in your next process simulation.

2 Comments

  1. Arnoldo Wise February 28, 2015 at 3:07 PM - Reply

    Scott, your support team has been very proactive in supporting my projects and meeting my deadlines. This new feature in a ProcessModel simulation helped me to understand the principle.

  2. jakealvarez February 26, 2015 at 10:00 AM - Reply

    Scott, I was stuck on this scenario for two days and searching for the possible solutions. You helped me a lot — Thanks for this great post.

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