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6/96 Reviews SW: ProcessModel 2.0

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

Flow Shows How Work Works

by Joel T. Patz

ProcessModel combines flowcharting with real-time variables, providing an animated-and eye-opening-simulation of the processes that affect your company.

The program, which I tested in beta, builds upon Micrografx's ABC FlowCharter, grafting on new windows for entering data. In fact, the box includes not just FlowCharter but the entire ABC Graphics Suite.

You create a new process simulation by opening ProcessModel's shapes palette and dragging operations to complete it, such as Answer Telephone, Resolve Problem or Assemble Widget. Connect these operations using FlowCharter tools, filling in associated details in the ProcessModel properties box. You can assign names to each step; estimate time, cost and repetitions needed; and add links to other operations or processes.

Similarly, you can drag "entities," the objects acted upon, to the workspace. Attach the entity, such as call to be answered, to the appropriate task(s).

You then add resources-the people needed to perform the tasks, along with the machinery or facilities required. With ProcessModel, you can be extremely flexible in defining these resources. Define the name and number of the team working on specific tasks, and identify the team members, as well as their availability and costs. You can assign resources to shifts, so that your model runs an 8: 00 a.m. to 5: 00 p.m. workday, for example.

ProcessModel simulates your work in an animated flowchart, showing how entities move through the process and identifying bottlenecks or idle time. You can run the process for a set period, such as a 40-hour workweek, collect data and present a complete statistical summary. Stop the process, add a resource or tweak an operation, then rerun your simulation to view the new results.

ProcessModel charts utilization, capacity and other measures. These graphs offer limited editing of the title, legend and scale for pie, bar and histogram charts.

You can have entities arrive for processing in groups or continually, or model variations in time, so that a simulation of help desk calls-which tend to increase around lunchtime-follows a bell-shaped frequency curve. Version 2 also permits hierarchical processes (an entity moves to a process in another simulation), but that wasn't working yet in my beta copy.

Be careful, though; the program won't automatically adjust to compensate for changes. Splitting a flow of entities between processes so that one operation receives 60 percent won't automatically reduce the other process' flow to 40 percent.

ProcessModel's tutorial is simply a series of static screens and hypertext links in a Help file, but there's a good Techniques section in the user guide, which describes a task, then shows you how to achieve it.

Even with the extra assistance, you'll face a steep learning curve with this program. And the number of icons in the shapes palette is surprisingly limited. But ProcessModel 2.0's unique feature set helps you develop effective workflow processes that really get the job done.

Info File
ProcessModel 2.0
$695 (street)
Pros: Process simulation
Cons: Learning curve
Platforms: Windows 95, NT 3.51
ProModel Corp.
801-223-4600, fax 801-226-6046
WinMag Box Score: 3.0
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