It’s a question for the renaissance, for the industrial revolution, for the age of computers, and now for the internet era. Perhaps an age-old question but one that is sparked by technological revolutions and paradigm shifts. How can I speed up my business processes? If you search online, the answers aren’t readily available, even if the products are.
Business Process Management is an entire vertical built around answering that question. Consultants evaluate and advise companies and organizations. Some companies specialize in manual, time-consuming business processes, taking it off the hands of those who don’t have the time. Developers make and sell business process management software to automate tasks in the office. The market is dense and confusing. If you really want to streamline your workload, you have to know which options are available.
Managing Business Processes without help
This is what you do every day. Fill out your expense reports and hand-deliver them to the accounting department. Keep an eye on the date and remember to collect time sheets and complete payroll for the month. Email a quote to the sales director for approval before you can send it off to your client. You want these strings of tasks to take less time and use less resources.
Without the help of an outside party, executing these processes more quickly requires establishing norms and following patterns. Set a certain day every week to send purchase orders and a day when they will be paid. Complete the POs by hand and email them. Subsequently remember to review and pay them. Make sure certain document types have set formats so that processors always know where on the document to look for relevant data. If all actors are on the same page, then tasks can be completed with some increased efficiency. But are standards enough for real improvement?
What does your operation comprise?
Before you know what sort of help you need with your business processes, you must determine the nature of your operations. What components are being distributed, communicated, and assembled? Are you streamlining customer service? Do you need to speed up communications via the office administrator? Most organizations do most of their work via creation, sharing, and editing of files. Whether you’re a local police department, a supermarket chain, or a non-profit, you are generating documents every day. These are emails, word documents, social media posts, training videos, schematics, legal files. More than likely, the business processes you need to manage rely on documents as much as they do on input from you and your colleagues. Once you know what your operations comprise, you can begin reviewing the best ways to manage that element.
Using software to manage Business Processes
There are too many programs to count. Business Process Management comes in many forms. Some are more like the CRM, a solution for keeping track of sales and customer interactions. Some are found in the back end of your website. They automate publishing blog posts. If you want a program that handles the content in your organization, you’re looking for Enterprise Content Services, also known as Document Management. These Content Services are local or cloud solutions for storing, sending, sharing, editing, and tracking your files.
You need to install a Content Management tool and take advantage of the workflow feature to enter files into the system. Use your efficiency boosting tactics for outlining automation paths that files can take once they are in the system. Grant access to various departments based on what they do and do not need to see. In addition to increased security, this narrows options and focuses the content pool and tasks available to each department. Items can be scanned into a content management solution and automatically indexed and saved to the system. Batch processing can take care of whole file cabinets while your employees use that time on more productive activities.
An Ecosystem of many apps
What happens if you already have a series of programs you’re using for managing these disparate, or sometimes linked, processes? What happens if you have ten or more enterprise solutions that sync up and work just fine? Not only is a single, central BPM or ECM system more cost-effective, it decreases bandwidth, digital storage space, and confusion. If you string the processes of many applications together, you will run into roadblocks. You also will certainly run into issues when passing documents between solutions, as these programs were not all designed to interact. Some file types are not compatible with certain storage solutions even if one of your core programs can generate them.
Narrow it down to a key lineup of mission critical apps. Stick to these, and then add your workflow software to combine these few programs. Certain content services support the viewing of hundreds of different file types. For other unsupported file types, Contentverse opens up the native app in which to view those files, but it still stores them within its system.
Workflow Automation Solutions
Consultants can be an ongoing cost. Expertise is important when it comes to enterprise operations. This is why we have experienced finance and business professionals at the helm. A business consultant will either become an ongoing cost for personnel that aren’t in your control or a one-time cost with benefits that do not last.
For any third party manual operation, you’ll be paying a lower cost, but you run the risk of leaving your life’s work in the hands of a team that is likely underpaid (at least paid less than your own team). What’s more, your information is in somebody else’s hands. You are divulging corporate, professional, or possibly even government data to a third party that has many other clients beyond just you.
Who do you trust more than yourself? Who do you trust more than your own team? Content Services put control in the hands of you and your team. All of your information is secure and accessible only to those for whom you’ve granted access. The prices are minimal compared to hiring the experts, because with content management software, the experts are the designers of the product, and you don’t have to bare the entire cost yourself. ECM solution providers may be organizational experts, but you’re the experts of your own organization. Sounds like a match centuries in the making.