Operating a company can be like taking a family vacation. While the kids find ways to distract themselves and everyone else, the parents are focused on getting from Point A to Point B with as little disruption as possible. Arriving at the destination does not mean margaritas and frolicking in the pool for the parents, either; there is parking, checking in, unpacking and feeding the group, just for starters.
So too for those who run processes and operations within a company. If they were to be asked, “Are we there yet?” the answer would be, “We’re NEVER there.” That is truly the right answer, because business never stops. Processes start at the beginning, finish at the end, and then do “it” all over again…and again…and again.
The remedy that ensures smooth transmission of all data through an organization to its intended destination is workflow. Workflow used to be the domain primarily of large enterprises, armed with efficiency consultants. Now, however, solutions like Process Director provide a framework for fast implementation and flexible change management. We have detailed the value derived from workflow in our BPM Value Estimator in terms of things like increased efficiency through automated routing, more productivity as a result of improved decision-making capabilities, and more effective change management, due to easy-to-change rules and process updates.
Beyond metrics, however, we find that workflow is best able to be effective when it is matched with a willing and engaged organizational culture.
We can demonstrate the effectiveness of workflow software by sharing some existing BPM case studies of our customer experiences, however your success is predicated on having a thoughtful and well-formed strategy for implementing and managing your processes and operations. That means laying out what you want to accomplish and creating the roadmap (much like our parents did for their road trip). Process Director executes the plan, but an organization must be prepared and it is essential for decision-makers to be focused on the following:
Readiness: Let’s assume your organization wants to be more productive. Is it ready to organize around a workflow model that encourages productivity? That’s a different question. To understand the degree to which your company can be helped by workflow, consider these things:
- Is your team adept at prioritizing projects and processes?
- Does your company operate with a flexible mindset that allows it to adapt to changing business needs?
- Do executives understand how workflow can help your organization?
- Do you have the skill set internally to identify where workflow should be applied?
Intention: Workflow can do a lot of things, but to be effective it must implemented whole-heartedly. More often than not, we see groups within a company adopting workflow because they saw it successfully implemented in other areas of the company. We also see instances where workflow is implemented, but not adopted. It is critical that the people using workflow are prepared to use it, and that it is adopted as part of their normal working behavior.
Rules: For workflow to do its intended job, it needs to operate according to rules. Process Director is great at taking complex rules and defining processes with them, however those rules have to be outlined and created. Doing this ensures that documents ‘arrive’ where they are supposed to go, documents are approved, compliance adhered to, and timelines are met. If these things do not, or cannot, happen, then the role of workflow should be reconsidered.
Workflow will undoubtedly change the way your organization works. The advantages that come from it are huge. Setting your company up for success requires focus and serious effort, but much like a family vacation, after all the preparation and running around, there comes a point where you get to sit back and see your work pay off.