Today, almost every organization uses IT systems, which should support the execution of various activities and decision-making (see also the blog about data-driven working ). Ideally, these systems ensure an effective and efficient process, for example by automating tasks. In practice, however, it happens (too) often that IT systems hinder process – let alone process improvement – and even lead to extra administrative actions.
Whether it concerns treating a patient in a healthcare institution, processing a sales or production order, an application process, project management or canceling a mortgage, there is always a certain ‘subject’ that needs to be worked on. Activities or tasks are performed, and decisions are made, requiring and producing information. Also, information usually has to be exchanged between different employees or parties in order to achieve the goal of the process.
Need for a digital collaboration environment
There is therefore a need for a digital collaboration environment in which the various parties involved can easily and effectively store and exchange information. This makes it possible to gain insight into the current state of affairs and processes to run more smoothly. Ideally, this system also helps with performing the tasks. For example, by clearly indicating which fields must be filled in by a particular user. Or by performing steps automatically, such as retrieving and exchanging information.
“In order to be able to consistently deliver quality and improve performance, there is a need for sustainably designed processes that are fully supported by IT systems. These systems must provide insight and guidance, so that the right information is available to the right people at the right time.”
So-called Workflow Management Systems (or: Workflow Software) support the execution of the ‘ work ‘, which ‘ flows’ through an organization (or even through several organisations). All kinds of business processes can be included in this. For example, an organization can use a Workflow Management System in which only a few or all business processes are included. Each user then gets his own digital environment in the form of a dashboard, in which that user can see all the information that is important for the work that needs to be done. This includes statistics about the current status, performance indicators (KPIs), the tasks that must be performed and the progress of every process in which that role is involved.
ERP systems as the best-known example of workflow software
A very well-known and widely used system that can provide this type of functionality is an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. The purpose of these types of software packages is to connect and automate business processes within an organization. However, these types of packages have been developed for ‘the average user’ on the basis of a one-size-fits-all idea. As a result, organizations are often unable or not completely able to lose their processes. Subsequently, many ERP consultants are needed to effect a ‘minor’ adjustment in the system. Such a package is also aimed at one organization, which creates a difficult situation when different parties (with different systems) work together in the same process. As a result, a lot of unnecessary (complex), duplication and error-prone work often takes place.
From business processes to software
It is our vision that Workflow Software should adapt to the users and the process, instead of the other way around. Such IT systems must coordinate workflows, automate certain activities and fully support the users in performing their work optimally. Unnecessary and duplication of work should be eliminated, and mistakes should be avoided as much as possible. To achieve this, a uniform working method and real-time insight into the same information is required for every user.
However, it sometimes happens that you have to cooperate in a process with a party that you do not necessarily fully trust or simply do not want to give access to your internal systems. That is why our partner NorthChain develops workflow software based on private blockchain technology. This ensures that even unknown or competing parties can work together efficiently in the same process, without additional worries. It also offers a complete and non-mutable audit trial, which is ideal for (external) checks and data analyses. See also the blog about blockchain and process management .
So, workflow software is a digital collaboration environment to streamline business processes for improved productivity and quality. And, to take full advantage of this type of support software, it is important that it be seamlessly aligned with the desired business processes.
In our training courses we teach participants how to draw up a complete process model, which can function as a complete blueprint for a workflow management system. With our partner’s technology, this process model can be immediately and error-free translated into a fully functioning workflow system.