Business Process Outcomes: What an Enterprise Should Expect for Its BPM Investment
We talk with companies of all sizes and shapes and, even though their industries vary, their business challenges are usually quite similar. Some have preconceived notions of what a business solution “should” look like. And they have perceptions as to what success looks like as well.
It is not our job to suggest a workflow solution where one is not warranted. We always have to consider a customer’s predilections when creating the right solution for them. It is important, however, for decision makers to understand the reality of what workflow is— and what it provides.
The first part of our engagement with any customer is to listen to their story and learn what is important to them. We are workflow and business process experts, but we can’t identify how to help a customer until we understand their challenge. Once we “get it”, we can work with that customer to suggest where BPM and workflow could help.
For us to be successful, and for our customers to derive value, we must also help them achieve a significant ROI. And our customers tell us they have achieved measurable improvement in these areas:
1. Document format standardization: Different types of documents are used within organizations, with differences attributed to functional needs and design preferences. This is totally normal. As long as all documents adhere to business rules and some level of guidance, which are provided by a workflow solution, variances in look-and-feel can be accommodated.
2. Deeper user engagement: The whole point of workflow is to increase transparency and eliminate bottlenecks caused by participants who are unaware of changes and updates. A workflow solution must alert people to changes in documents, request approvals where needed, and provide real-time updates. Those enable the business owners to manage expectations and be better equipped to anticipate where issues might occur. They enable them to be more informed and able to adapt.
3. Integrate data: No matter how you look at it, data drives an enterprise. There’s almost nothing that happens that is not ‘informed’ by data that resides somewhere else within the organization. Irrespective of company size, data needs to be shared and workflow is the best enabler of that communication. An effective workflow and process management solution should be able to easily pull data (that includes specified, selected sets of data) from different documents and applications, and integrate it into a usable, functional presentation layer. This data forms the foundation of the workflow— and it is critical that it be easy to create and manage.
4. Make use of replicable patterns: A key element of business efficiency is automating processes. Workflow provides a foundation upon which processes can be built, and is done in a way that mirrors human activity. Doing so allows participants to optimize what works best for them, and use what they’ve learned in other processes. The goals can be different however the workflow foundation and processes supporting it can be re-used and re-purposed.
5. Better governance: Once created, workflows can be adapted and changed, however the workflows themselves must be carefully managed. You want everyone included who should be included — yet access needs to be limited to those who are actively involved. A solid workflow solution will facilitate easy change management, so that new players can get involved and contribute.
6. More user and admin flexibility: With all the great things a workflow provides, one of the most important things it needs is flexibility. This means it has to be changeable, easily, to adapt to new business needs, new participants, and updated goals. Workflows are not built then left to fend for themselves. This limits what workflows can provide. The true test of an effective workflow is one that is able to constantly change, like the business it supports.
7. Increased predictive capabilities: Irrespective of what you are trying to achieve through your workflows and processes, you should be able to have visibility in to what a post-workflow world looks like. Your solution must provide intelligent, thoughtful predictions about the improvements you will see, then measure whether or not you are actually achieving them.
Business challenges come in all shapes and sizes, and they are not easy to predict. But if you have implemented an effective workflow solution and adhere to a smart business process framework, you will be well positioned to deal with any issues you might face. You are trying to build something that will enable growth; your workflow and BPM will prove time and again that they can be effective tools to help you do that.