Workflow analysis is the first step towards improving your business processes, which in turn improves your business. A properly-done analysis can be used for two things:
- Streamlining your manual business processes to make them more efficient.
- Automating your business processes.
Many business processes are in place for historical reasons. Sometimes companies don’t even know why processes are carried out the way that they are. The reasons might have been valid originally, but businesses change. Unfortunately, business processes sometimes carry on well past when they should have been updated.
Here are the basic steps we take to ensure a successful workflow analysis for your organization:
Review and Assessment of the Current State
An important step in streamlining business processes is identifying paper-based documents and processes that can be converted to an electronic format. This includes creating as many self-service functions as possible. An Electronic Document Management System should work with both scanned documents and electronically-created documents.
This task requires the participation of management and employees involved with the intake and processing of the documents.
This assessment will address the following:
- Current document management systems
- Current document workflow processes
- Security and permissions requirements
- Identification of challenges and opportunities
- Legacy system or line of business integration
Without a proper design, the chances for a successful project are significantly reduced.
Definition of Future State Requirements and Workflow Strategy
The Detailed Design Requirements and Strategy are important building blocks in the implementation of any successful business automation project. The first step in business process automation is to determine the documents and information that are moving through the organization. The documents must be categorized to determine the indexing attributes that will allow for fast and easy retrieval as well as monitoring throughout their lifecycle and records retention.
While categorizing the documents, the lifecycle of those documents can be reviewed and documented. This will provide the information needed for ways to streamline the processes. This will also assist us in determining the retrieval needs as well as any type of reports that may be needed for monitoring the processes and effectiveness of the department.
Once the documents have been categorized the format of the documents can be determined. Some of them may be scanned images, some may be submitted electronically, and some may be generated internally.
Summary of Benefits and Operational Savings
The summary of benefits and operational savings will address the following qualitative benefits and quantitative efficiencies gained:
- Overall efficiency
- Employee time: searching information, reformatting documentation, copying information, and sorting information
- Physical space utilization
- Improvements in customer service
- Employee job satisfaction
To achieve the maximum benefit from automating business processes, we must ensure that the new processes are aligned with the business needs. To be able to measure the effectiveness of the automation project a baseline set of parameters must be measured using the current processes. This includes timing each step of a process and the time required to complete the entire process. Developing a process improvement plan and engaging the staff in the redesign effort significantly reduce the fear of change. This also improves the chance for success by bringing in the ideas from the people who do the work every day; also increasing their support of the new processes since they were able to provide input.
Part of the change management process is to assess the current skill set of the staff and compare that to the skills required to operate the new automated processes. Proper implementation of new business processes increases the ability to cross-train employees by automating the manual steps and letting them focus on tasks that drive revenue. The system manages the process and the people execute the tasks.