Efficiency, Precision and Growth: Business Process Management at Liquid Controls

Liquid Controls, a division of IDEX Corporation, has been a leader in flow measurement and process control instrumentation for over 50 years. The company serves a variety of industries from adhesives and beverages to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Its products are used in fields as diverse as agriculture, manufacturing, the military, textiles and printing ink. Liquid Controls relies on in-house  designs and a network of strategically located distributors to ensure that global customers are supported with technology tailored to each industry’s particular requirements.

Problem
Like most successful companies, Liquid Controls (LC) has an intranet that employees access for the forms and information they are seeking – from policies and procedures to expense forms. Employees wanted to make changes to these documents to reflect changing business processes, however the existing system could not accommodate those changes.

In addition, the Intranet provided a sales quoting tool that was used daily. While the form itself was appropriate it did not include a workflow management software solution.  As a result employees would complete the form then submit it for manually processing, resulting in many documents being lost or misplaced.

With so many forms on the intranet being static and manual, Liquid Controls’ intranet appeared to be more of a repository than the dynamic portal it was envisioned to be.

Solution
To address the need for a system that would work the way that employees worked, LC began its search by looking at electronic forms software and document management solutions. The search was quickly expanded to include workflow solutions, however, as it became apparent that addressing the underlying business processes was very important. Additionally, the IT group wanted a solution that did not require extensive back end development. IT wanted :
•A fast implementation and roll-out.
•A product that would be easy to rewrite or change as business processes changed
•Version control capabilities.
•A tool that would allow IT  to process user requests rapidly.

The two departments supporting the move to a new solution were Accounting and Quality Assurance. After consulting with these business users, that list was amended to include:
•A process for CapEx requests and audit documents (Accounting)
•A process for Quality procedures/secure signatures (QA)

The IT team conducted a needs analysis over a three-month period. The goal was to find one product that would embrace workflow, electronic forms/signatures and document management. IT established five criteria for its product. It needed to:
•Require minimal or no coding
•Enable users to make changes easily
•Be scalable
•Be cost-effective
•Be deployable out of the box

IT reviewed trial versions of Adobe and Microsoft forms builder. While solid products, they did not address Liquid Controls’ workflow needs to its satisfaction. The product they selected was BP Logix Process Director.

Implementation
Liquid Controls is using Process Director for workflow applications ranging from attendance and engineering change control to shop floor work constructions. One challenge was to provide the appropriate workflows to ensure that a new hire could be able to build a product to the same tolerance as a more senior employee. Building a flow meter , for example, requires 600 work constructions. Changes to the process are now done through a workflow. Approved instructions are published in real-time which makes them available to shop floor employees immediately.

The IT department lives in a world of non-stop projects. Liquid Controls is in expansion mode always, with new companies being bought all the time. There are also gaps between the old and new ERP systems. Process Director helps to fill the gaps.

And then there are the business process governance issues. LC is audited at least once a year for its ISO accreditation, as well as undergoing Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) audits. Once an organization is ISO-certified, procedures must be available to anyone who need to see them. Process Director makes the reporting, monitoring and auditing of processes seamless and gives authorized employees and auditors access to the information they need and the approvals that were given.

Perhaps the biggest advantage Liquid Controls has gained from using Process Director is that the IT team does not need to write code due to rapid application development, allowing them to focus on deploying other BPM applications.

LC employees appreciate the user interface and friendliness of Process Director. IT appreciates the business logic that lets them dive as deep as necessary to be consistent with their business process. Process Director enables Liquid Controls to drive from the results side backwards and to better leverage its investments.

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