Connected Workspace Apps & Situational Awareness – Working to Make Better Decisions
From IC Insider OpenText
Tom Chapin, Global Public Sector Lead, Enterprise Presales at OpenText
In my previous article, I presented a potential framework to use as a ‘cockpit’ approach to understand enterprise information management. Modern tactical cockpits like the F-35 and their unprecedented volume of information have a lot to teach us about the best way to present information to the decision-making pilot. Each piece of information is thoughtfully packaged and presented to enhance and increase the pilot’s situational awareness (SA). This article will discuss extending this concept into a notional business cockpit to increase SA for business leaders.
At OpenText we use the terms ‘Extended ECM’ and ‘Connected Workspace’ to describe a presentation layer capability that brings related and relevant business data into a single ‘eyespan’. The related data and documents are sourced from different structured business systems and repositories but ‘connected’ using metadata and a single data object or transaction from the business system. Examples of single data objects include: an Employee from an HRIS, a Customer from a CRM, a Financial Transaction (ex. invoice) from an ERP, an asset from an EAM, a product from a PLM etc. Evidence of the value of this approach is OpenText’s partner position with the world’s leading ERP provider – SAP. The presented single eyespan builds context and understanding as to the current state – ultimately leading to better decisions.
My enthusiasm for the concept of a Connected Workspace was born 30 years ago while flying the F/A-18 Hornet for the US Navy. At that time, we as tactical aviators were in constant pursuit of something called situational awareness, better known then, and today, as SA. Tough to define literally, but when you had it, you knew it. When you lost it, bad things usually happened. You can think of SA in three segments:
- perception of the elements in the environment
- comprehension of the situation
- projection of future status
In the F/A-18, the APG-65 radar would present to the pilot a radar track for an aircraft it could see ahead of your airplane. The track served as the single data object around which supporting information would be presented. The radar would compute and present the track’s speed, altitude and aspect relative to your own aircraft. The track could be further enriched from other domains and sources as friendly, unknown or enemy. All this data helped me perceive the elements in my environment, comprehend the current situation and project a future state – voila, the elusive SA had arrived! Each piece of information added context and improved my decision-making.
SA for Transactional Evidence
We are the information company, applying cockpit information design principles to business. The concept of working to increase situational awareness by bringing relevant information into a more coherent single eyespan is being demonstrated with OpenText’s Extended ECM and Connected Business Workspace offerings. Let’s take a look at a more specific example within the pursuit of the all-elusive ‘clean audit opinion’ following the external audit of the agency’s financial reports.
Every year, 23 of the US federal ‘CFO Act’ agencies produce an annual financial report detailing how it spent the taxpayer dollars provided to it by Congress. The report includes an audit by an outside auditor assessing the strength of its internal controls by sampling transactions and looking at them under a microscope. Each transaction sampled for audit needs evidence in order for the auditor to state the financial statements are reliable. Financial transactions related to Procure to Pay processes are represented within Enterprise Resource Planning ERP systems. Transactions related to acquiring an asset fall within the Acquire to Retire process and are generally represented within an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system. If the transaction reports the depreciation of an asset, you may find those transactions in both the ERP and EAM.
Financial and Asset transactions have associated evidence. The evidence, often termed Key Supporting Documents, is often traced back to hundreds of DD Forms used before we even had systems like ERPs and EAMs. Back then we had forms and thousands of clerks that made these processes work. Today we have structured systems that serve as the authoritative record of the transaction while the form evidence has become ‘detached’ and is living in a disconnected siloed repository. When the auditor selects the transaction, supporting evidence has to be located within 5 days. Without evidence, the transaction cannot be assessed as reliable and another agency is unable to obtain a clean audit opinion. Situational awareness is low and bad things are happening.
A Connected Information Journey
Enter the connected workspace. An asset is selected for the audit. The authoritative asset record is contained in the EAM (think radar track). The EAM has other transactional data about the asset. How much it cost originally, when it was placed in service, when it was maintained, its current location etc. (think speed, altitude and aspect). Asset evidence includes the DD250 (Materiel Inspection and Receiving Report), DD Form 1348-1a (Issue Release/Receipt document), the DD Form 1149 (Requisition and Invoice/Shipping document), the Vendor Invoice/Receipt and lastly the Fair Market Value Worksheet. Using a Connected Workspace and shared metadata between each of the objects, they are assembled and presented in one ‘eyespan’ to the auditor to assess and provide the clean audit.
In our next article we’ll look at how Connected Workspaces are constructed and presented to end-users. Increasing the situational awareness of business process leaders and auditors is a worthwhile pursuit. Please reach out to me if you have questions or comments on the content I’ve presented today.
Please reach out to me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tchapin/) to connect and continue the conversation.
OpenText, The Information Company™, enables organizations to gain insight through market leading information management solutions, on-premises or in the cloud. For more information about OpenText visit www.opentext.com/publicsector.
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