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Automated and Collaborative Workflows – Where Should You Start?

By John Mancini • 7 Dec 2017

spheres on thread to represent making changeIn my last post, The Results Gap -- Automated Workflow Intentions vs. Reality – I discussed a recent AIIM report on Business Process Automation in 2017: Designing an Intelligent Workplace and the challenges facing organizations as they struggle to automate core workflow processes. 

Watch the webinar: Keep Projects Moving - Automated Collaborative Workflows 

The AIIM survey asked participants to identify likely candidates for process improvement in their organization – and to assess their current efforts. The results provide an essential checklist of core workflow automation targets: 

Is this business process a likely candidate for improvement in your organization?

YES

Self-Assessment

“Below Average”

Records and document management

86%

24%

Internal processes like reviews and approvals, etc.

91%

24%

Customer correspondence, help desk

70%

23%

Sales proposals and contracts

60%

30%

Supplier contracts and procurement

68%

29%

Internal HR processes (Applicants, timesheets, etc.)

82%

22%

Finance (Accounts payables and receivables)

81%

18%

Facilities management and maintenance

55%

30%

Logistics (Deliveries, manifests, etc.)

60%

34%

 

If you break things down a little further into day-to-day activities that fuel each of these processes, you can get an even clearer picture:

Evaluate the current state of your organization relative to the following day-to-day workflow activities.

Self-Assessment

“Below Average”

Routing to and between individuals

23%

Routing to and between processes

31%

Routing to archive or other systems

41%

Reviews and approvals

26%

Ad hoc processes

40%

Automated workflows with parallel processing

37%

Rules-based workflows

33%

 

The key to improving performance of both these processes and the routine activities that drive them is to give knowledge workers the tools they need to be accountable for achieving results.

This is a very different perspective from the one that has fueled business process management initiatives over the past decade. The “old” way of looking at process improvement requires complex technology and IT involvement. While this made sense during the first wave of big, complex, mission critical process automation, it doesn’t apply to the new challenges facing knowledge workers today.

The cloud provides the foundation for a more modern and knowledge-worker centric approach. As you think about a framework for your workflow automation initiatives, consider the following key requirements:

  • Does it allow for “self-service” – i.e., does it allow knowledge workers to create and own their workflows without the expense of programming?
  • Does it provide a means to aggregate these individual workflows and their associated tasks and give you a “dashboard” of who has done what?
  • Does it provide guidelines to break down the specific elements of a task?
  • Does it allow for escalation of problems and exceptions?

Process management has moved beyond its roots in the old world of rigid BPM solutions. As per Gary Hamel and Liisa Välikangas in the Harvard Business Review, “The agile enterprise strives to make change a routine part of organizational life to reduce or eliminate the organizational trauma that paralyzes many businesses attempting to adapt to new markets and environments.”

Being an agile enterprise means that process change must occur dynamically and in small increments. It means that the tools and platforms upon which process innovation occurs must be accessible to the business and easily usable by the business with a minimum of IT intervention. 

Watch the Webinar: Keep Projects Moving  with Automated Collaborative Workflows

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