Business processes are often not formalized to be repeatable, reportable, and auditable. Workflows exist to streamline business processes. Having a well-documented process allows process owners to identify all linkages, flows, and business rules, reduce inefficiencies and fix bottlenecks and issues. An ECM solution like OpenText Content Server can automate document-centric business processes and provide oversight for reporting and auditing.
What is a Workflow?
Workflows are processes employees use to complete tasks in a pre-defined sequence and manner. These processes are repeated processes, not one-time ad hoc occurrences. They follow business rules and logic on who is the next step in the process and generally have a list of tasks associated with each step. Users can perform work in sequence or in parallel fashion. When the final task is finished for a step, the workflow advances to the next step for the next user to complete their set of tasks. Once the final task for the final step is completed, the workflow instance is complete. Other instances for the same process can be occurring at the same time. These other instances can be at various stages of the pre-defined process.
Why you need automated workflows
Businesses already have basic processes in place for every-day tasks. In order to optimize a process, every step needs to be documented and analyzed. Departments – for the most part – are isolated in their operations. A step performer is often not clear on what other performers are doing in the process, this is where inefficiencies come into play. Paperwork ends up being forgotten on desks, or information needed by the next step performer in another department is left off. This leads to employees having to talk to the previous department to get the information they need slowing down the process.
With automated workflows, like the ones used within OpenText Content Server, every step within the process can be audited to see where steps are getting hung up. Requirements can be set in the workflow so information is never left off. Documents needed for the process can be attached to the workflow, which ensures everyone is working from the same information and paperwork is not lost or forgotten about on a desk. Notifications can also be set up to let employees know when it is their turn in the process, and reminders can automatically be sent to them if the work isn’t completed in a certain time frame.
Workflows save employees time by standardizing and automating routing. For example, consider when a new employee is hired, the HR Department needs to create a file for the employee and email the hiring manager when they have everything finished for the employee to start working. After HR is done with their part the IT department needs to be notified about the new hire as well to get everything set up for the new employee. When the IT department is finished, they need to notify the hiring manager and give them the information they need like the new employee’s credentials to login to their computer.
With an automated workflow the HR Department will input the appropriate information into the workflow and initiate it. The workflow can automatically create the employee file folder in Content Server employee’s documents to be deposited, while at the same time setting a task and notifying the IT department of the new employee. Once IT inputs into the workflow the information the HR department and the hiring manager need and finishes their tasks, the workflow notifies the HR department and the new employee’s manager that everything is ready. The hiring manager at that point can get a link to the new employee folder in Content Server, get the credentials for the employee and end the workflow. Having the process automated ensures that steps are not forgotten in the process, information isn’t lost, and work is completed in a pre-defined manner.
This HR example demonstrates how many processes in an organization can be diagrammed and documented for understanding a process and steps along the way, and eventually automated – whether simple or complex or within a department or across departments.
Some examples of workflow processes Axyon has helped to implement include:
- Legal Case Matter and Contract Folder Creation. Automation of folder creation for each new case matter or contracts folder ensuring standardized folder structures for each new case matter or contract folder, consistent and required metadata collection, and adherence to granular permission structure.
- New contract process. Capturing internal and external review of the draft through execution and storage in a Contracts Management Workspace allowing for continued management, review, and reporting.
- Post-execution review of contracts. Pre-defined process to route the contract and review items to contract owner and necessary reviewers for contract renewal, contract terms, rate escalation, or termination.
- Purchase Authorization Form and Workflow. Review and authorization of vendor purchases authorization. The workflow routed through various approvers (manager’s, VPs, CEO/Board) depending on purchase amount and included a simple single-page authorization form and supporting documents as attachments.
- Engineering and HSE document review. Review of documents and assignment of automatic document numbers to be recorded on the documents and as metadata.
- Records Management Disposition Review. Custom review process for records qualifying for destruction or other disposition paths.