British-based software company Triaster has Eastside connections and a new stateside presence. The goal? Help companies streamline their operations.
If you spend any length of time working in the corporate world, you will likely find yourself attending team meetings and brainstorming ways to streamline operations, create efficiencies, and save money. It’s an essential process that seems almost quaint: a room filled with whiteboards covered in lines and arrows written with multicolored dry-erase markers, all to map the flow of various company processes and, hopefully, find ways to reduce time and expense.
Business process-analysis software exists to help facilitate this process. The market is rich with competitors such as ARIS, Casewise, IBM Blueworks, K2, and Orbus offering their own services and solutions to ease the heavy lifting associated with making a company run more smoothly.
Triaster USA is one of the latest entries into the market, and it has a unique connection to the Eastside.
The company’s roots date back more than 20 years and across the Atlantic Ocean to British native Michael Cousins, who became the first certified Microsoft Visio developer in Great Britain during the 1990s. Cousins saw the potential in Visio, and decided to build upon the software platform to create a more robust tool to analyze business processes (something Triaster staff often refer to as “Visio on steroids”). In 2007, Cousins and Triaster UK were tapped by Microsoft to help the company’s Sales, Marketing, and Service Group develop and roll out its worldwide corporate accounts sales operations. Two years later, Triaster UK helped Microsoft map out the process for operating its first retail stores — brainstorming everything from how to open and close the stores; operate the giant, ribbon-like video walls that wrapped around each store’s interior; to even reconnecting a lost child to its parent. In 2010, Microsoft’s Licensing Operations team enlisted Triaster UK to help generate, distribute, and manage product license keys.
The Microsoft partnership continues. The licensed Triaster Business Process Management platform is hosted by cloud-based Microsoft Azure and works within the Microsoft stack of software products. In 2015, Triaster USA was launched by Stan Julien, a former director of online relationship marketing at Microsoft, and Russ Finseth, a former senior director at Bellevue-based Blue Hawk Consulting.
Triaster UK and Triaster USA also have provided software-based process solutions to Balfour Beatty, Equifax, Lockheed Martin, Nokia, Phillips Lighting, University of Winchester, T-Mobile, and others.
And Triaster USA recently partnered with Redmond City Hall to launch a pilot project that aims to streamline processes.
“Every organization, fundamentally, is a collection of processes,” said Cousins, who was stateside in April and visiting Redmond City Hall to help Julien, Finseth, and vice president of business development for Triaster USA, Michael McIntosh, administer the pilot project. “Every organization on the planet transforms inputs to outputs in one form or another. Every organization on the planet should be striving to do that more efficiently and better than its competition. When you’ve got somebody within the business that understands (the company is) a set of processes and therefore improvement is gained through process improvement, then (Triaster and Visio) can really help. That’s the real-world application. Saving time and reducing costs. That’s the basic application of (Triaster).”
The pilot project at Redmond City Hall uses Triaster Process Navigator to streamline how the city processes credit card transactions and implement a new budgeting module.
“We saw an opportunity to look at what this tool could provide,” said City of Redmond financial planning manager, Kelley Cochran. “We will be using the software to help us determine improvements to make and the value in making them. There is a lot of power in the software in terms of understanding the data behind what we are doing, and using the analytic components of the software to help us make some decisions. We want to map our process, understand our process, and make any improvements before we implement a software solution. We are using this (pilot project) as an opportunity to learn more about what the software can do for us.”
City of Redmond business systems analyst, Dawn Johnson, hoped the pilot project would help staff make more informed, data-based decisions when taking steps to streamline processes. In the past, she has joined her team of coworkers in conference rooms to create value-stream process maps on whiteboards. The practice is a bit ad hoc, and Johnson said decisions are often arbitrary and based on perceived improvements.
“They don’t always turn out to be the most beneficial areas, and there is no prioritization of the improvements,” said Johnson. “But with the use of Triaster — particularly in the analytics piece and the simulation and comparison of the ‘as is’ model and the ‘to be’ model that (we’ve seen) — what we would expect is that we will be able to put our value stream map model into Triaster, (identify) where we think the changes should be, run the simulation, compare the models, and find out where the real value is in change. It’s not always where we thought it was going to be. It’s going to help us focus process improvement where we are going to get the biggest bang for the work that we put into it.”
The City of Redmond is expected to make a decision on whether to incorporate Triaster’s software into its operations after the three-month pilot project concludes in June.
Meanwhile, Triaster USA plans to continue to build its client base on the Eastside and stake its claim in the competitive market of software-based business process analysis.
“The competition really is customers that don’t know there is a better way,” said Julien, Triaster USA’s cofounder. “There are lots of companies out there struggling to be successful with a fairly limited set of tools that are not purpose-designed for this process improvement exercise. They are general purpose tools applied to a very specific problem. Yes, you can do it, but it’s hard.”