Real Time Audit (RTA) is a means of harnessing the power and convenience of the World Wide Web to collect current information on the state of all measurable and relevant variables that define a process and to transmit this information instantaneously (real time) to authorised interested parties located anywhere in the world. In general, RTA is useful for managing any process that combines people and tools in the production of goods or services. Besides providing information for stakeholders in a process RTA provides an effective support for process management decision analysis related to the selection of short term tactics as well as medium to long term strategies to ensure the efficacy of the processes being managed.
A generic resource
RTA is a generic and adaptable resource and it is not a specific "tool". It can therefore be configured according to most applications domains providing as detailed a review of process activities and their outcomes as is required. RTA can involve relatively small data sets or can be set up to handle complex whole enterprise audits or even econometric models of an economy. Data can consist of quantitative technical, economic, financial, environmental and social measures.
The specific application process system to which RTA is applied is the foundation for defining the data sets required. The way in which data is used to support decisions relevant to process management is also structured according to the application process and the objectives of that process. In each case it is important to ensure that the dimension and configuration of information management capabilities of RTA serve the specific objectives of the process. The range and nature of processes is large and can include:
- business management
- a training programme
- a large industrial investment project
- a local authority departmental process
- a production process learning system geared to costs reduction
- a complex long cycle agricultural research, development and technology dissemination project
- a generic upgrading in a business management system
- a macroeconomic policy attempting to stimulate growth
It is therefore essential to make use of a method to ensure that any RTA development provides a direct support for the achievement of specific process objectives. RTA is an efficient data, information & knowledge management component but it needs to designed on the basis of an effective decision analysis process that identifies process Option Maps (OMs). These provide input to the selection of the "best process solution" based on assumptions on the prevailing conditions of determinants of the process performance. On the other hand, OMs need to be prepared in such a manner as to also provide Tactical Options Maps (TOMs) that provide a means of identifying preferable decision options when conditions change.
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