Traditionally, managers and their employees must do a lot of legwork to ensure that business processes which span across an individual physical office, department, building, city or country are properly coordinated and monitored. In such circumstances, trying to track workflows is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.
Enter the workflow engine and the landscape changes. A workflow engine is a software application which utilizes a database server to organize and track the implementation of workflows thus helping to manage complex business processes. Workflow engines provide the managers with an interface to allocate tasks, monitor progress and determine whether there is a need for intervention in the business process. The ability to remotely track workflows frees the manager’s time and enables them to deal with more strategically important matters for business success.
In this article, we explore the four common challenges of workflows and how they can be solved using a workflow engine.
- Difficulties in document tracking
Often times, organizations have business processes which require many small tasks to be performed and monitored by various actors across different departments. Consequently, the ability to monitor the status of each process/task is an important ingredient in effective business management.
However, organizations usually implement systems that “do not talk” to each other or to external systems used by business partners. As a result, document tracking and version control is practically impossible. Moreover, a lot of time is wasted on employees moving documents around or copying and pasting or retyping information and this introduces opportunities for document loss or errors.
The workflow engine helps companies to coordinate their business process by enabling the management to implement predefined conditions which outline the tasks to be created, when and by whom, as well as raise notifications to the concerned actors. Additionally, the engine can be configured to automatically trigger a transition from one activity or actor to another.
- Poor Collaboration Between Departments
In organizations, silos emerge when departments operate as individual business units or entities. This is prevalent in enterprises where business units do not share information, goals, priorities, and tools. The silo mentality slows down productivity, demotivates staff and may impact on the company’s overall performance.
An implementation of a workflow engine helps to break the silo mentality by ensuring that information flows freely between the business units in the organization. A workflow engine present employees with a global view of all activities performed in a workflow and provide managers with improved control over the business process.
This creates process transparency, encourages better communication, improves teamwork, and enhances collaboration between geographically-dispersed employees.
- Inefficient Processing for Approvals
Organizations are bogged down by processes which require numerous approvals for paper-based systems. A lot of time is wasted moving documents from one department to another and tracking them.
Workflow engines can be used to remedy these inefficiencies through the automation of administrative tasks performed by employees every day. With this automation, an organization can substantially reduce the time spent in processing transactions by eliminating the delays caused by the necessity to physically move hard document copies in-between departments.
Besides, by using a workflow engine, it is possible to track activity progress and help employees to avoid time wastage. Additional errors which result from manual processing are eliminated.
At a government-owned enterprise Elnusa Tbk. we developed an SLA monitoring system which tracks, records and analyses the time efficiency of each process. In order to do this, the system has incorporated an SLA which outlines the time period for each business process. As the processing progresses, the system records the time taken for each business process, compares to the SLA provisions, and generates a variance report.
- Slow Decision Making
In a typical setup, for a business process to be completed, it goes through a series of people or departments. Once the processing is completed at one stage, numerous decisions must be made on who is the next person to execute the next stage of processing. This is particularly complicated when the next tasks are not sequential but concurrent or when an employee who is supposed to execute the next steps is not available and alternatives must be found. If not automated, this consumes a lot of time and money.
Workflow engines are configured with rules which allocate tasks to a person, a group of people or department or even a machine. When a particular task is completed, another task is allocated thus saving time in the decision-making process. The engine intelligently controls the chain of events and also communicates the data needed by the participants.
An example of such an application is the e-approval software we developed for another government-owned enterprise PT. Timah Tbk. On this project, we are implementing a BPM system which replaced the organization’s paper-based approvals with electronic forms which are easily tracked throughout their processing. Additionally, to enhanced the processes even further, we created mobile apps to assist members of staff to access the system from anywhere, anytime.
Workflow engine facilitates the efficient flow of information, tasks, and events and ensures that every actor has access to the information and data they need to perform their respective tasks. The engine is able to intelligently allocate the tasks and sets the time required to complete each task making it possible to identify bottlenecks in the process.
Additionally, workflow engines enhance collaboration and save money by eliminating the need for emails, memos, skype or telephone calls.
To derive the maximum benefits which come with the deployment of a workflow engine, please contact our experts here for more details.