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Bright Horizons Automates Requisition Process and Integrates with Existing IT Architecture with help of HJB Consulting and Red Hat’s JBoss Enterprise Middleware
March 25, 2010
Customer: Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Inc.
Needed to deploy a Business Process Management solution to transform a paper-based capital requisition work flow into a scalable and automated system. The Business Process Management solution needed to fully integrate with the existing Oracle Application Server and Portal running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, all within an exceedingly tight budget
JBoss Enterprise Framework; JBoss jBPM, utilizing jBPM Process Definition Language (jPDL); Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5; Oracle Database 10g
HP ProLiant DL380 G6 servers with EMC Celerra NS40 storage arrays
Accelerated the requisition cycle from weeks to hours, provided senior management with better visibility into the capital expenditure pipeline, enabled requesters real time access to approval status via portal interface and through email notifications, saw 100 percent user adoption in the first month of operation. "This application will work for many other decentralized processes within our organization that require senior level review and approvals. We already have three to four projects lined up that will save Bright Horizons time and money.” – Nancy Johnson, Director of Supply Management, Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons is the global leader in employer-sponsored child care, early education, and work/life solutions. Founded in 1986, Bright Horizons currently operates more than 700 child care centers and schools for some of the worldand#x2019;s largest companies, hospitals, universities, and government agencies throughout North America and Europe, including nearly 100 of the Fortune 500 companies. Bright Horizons also provides back-up care solutions for children and elders as well as college counseling services and other work/life solutions for employers and working families. HJB Consulting provides technology solutions that help organizations plan, implement and manage information intensive products as well as complex business processes. For more than six years HJB Consulting has helped customers achieve measurable results with enterprise architecture-based solutions for Business Process Management (BPM), Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Information Portals.
Bright Horizons’ purchasing process was not scalable over their 700 and growing child care centers, the process was becoming dated and did not easily enable transparency. Previously, when any one of Bright Horizons’ 700 child care centers or schools needed to purchase a capital item or asset –for example, a new computer or a new piece of playground equipment—the director of the center was required to initiate a capital request form (CRF), a paper-based manual process for receiving approval for the necessary funds.
The CRF—which involved a significant amount of actual paper—had to be routed to several different people based on the type of request and the budget the funds would require. Typically processed using traditional USPS mail, fax, or email, it could take weeks before a purchase order (P.O.) was issued, and until the actual purchase order arrived at the requester’s desk, he or she did not typically know where the request was in the approval process.
“We surveyed our employees annually, and our CRF process was the biggest pain point among our center directors,” said Nancy Johnson, Director of Supply Management for Bright Horizons.
To address this business process challenge, Bright Horizons called in HJB Consulting to help design and automate a new requisition process based on a Business Process Management (BPM) solution. Among other goals, Bright Horizons asked HJB to streamline the requisition process by automating request routing and notification; to make the end-to-end expenditure pipeline transparent to key stakeholders; and to archive all requisition documentation so it was easily accessible for additional information.
Bright Horizons had two major conditions for the new requisitions system; HJB had to leverage its existing Oracle Portal and associated Oracle Internet Directory, and had to stay within tight budget constraints.
“We had a situation where the application server already existed—Oracle—so whatever we built needed to run on that technology,” said Hernando Barake, principal of HJB Consulting. “We couldn’t really go to Bright Horizons and say, you need to replace your infrastructure to do accomplish what you want.”
HJB was further limited by cost considerations. “When you need to implement a solution across this many locations, any per-use licensing scheme—which pretty much means any licensing terms for any proprietary software product—presents a big problem,” said Mr. Barake. “Many of these centers make just a few capital purchases per year. Traditional proprietary licenses just didn’t make sense.”
These two factors—ease of integration and cost considerations—naturally led HJB to consider using open source software,and once Mr. Barake started investigating possible open source BPM solutions, JBoss jBPM was the natural solution.
“With almost 1,000,000 downloads, JBoss jBPM is clearly the market leader over competing open source BPM products, none of which has more than 100,000 downloads. That told us a lot about the maturity and quality of the product,” he said.
The ease with which HJB could integrate JBoss jBPM with Bright Horizons’ existing IT infrastructure was the second major factor. “Due to its availability as a plain Java library, we were able to seamlessly integrate JBoss jBPM into the Oracle Application Server,” said Mr. Barake.
Finally, there was cost. “Red Hat’s subscription model was very attractive and made it possible to achieve what Bright Horizon wanted without breaking the budget,” said Mr. Barake.
HJB designed a purchase requisition process using the Eclipse-based JBoss jBPM Process Definition Language (jPDL) modeler and deployed the process model to an Oracle RDBMS. They then built a set of JSR168 portlets that allowed users to submit requests and to monitor approval status and approval history. Finally, all documents associated with the requests, such as quotes and estimates—were securely stored in the Oracle Portal content management system and protected by corporate authorization rules.
Today, Bright Horizons’ capital requisition process has been successfully automated. Anyone with proper authorization can view the expenditures pipeline in real time, and requesters get emails each step of the way regarding the progress of their requests. They can also export all the pending requisitions to Excel spreadsheets if they want to perform deeper analysis of requisition trends. Now all process participants have instant access to a single source of information as well as all requisition process history and documentation.
Perhaps most important, the requisition process has been dramatically accelerated. “Today, a center director can put in a request for a requisition in the morning and have the P.O. within hours,” said Johnson.
Ms. Johnson said she was further impressed by how quickly HJB Consulting’s team was able to translate the vision of non-technical professionals and dramatically transform the company’s purchasing process. “They made it so simple; we had absolutely no trouble getting people to use the new system,” she said.