QMS + WORKFLOW

Posted by Romeo Elias on Sat, Feb 11, 2017 @ 01:43 PM

Workflow Modeling and Automation

A core feature of Business Process Management is Workflow Automation.  This feature enables companies to describe their business process in a block diagram view, definding the flows, the roles, the activities, and business rules.  And once defined, the Business Process Management (BPM) Platform can automate and execute this workflow, notifying users when they are required to complete a task, providing them the information they need in context to complete the work, reminding them if they are late and keeping them up to date on the overall process status.  Managers can oversee the process in real time and be notified of any delays, audit the history and decisions that were made and ensure that everyone is following the company standard.

An Example Document Workflow
Workflow.png

The diagram above represents a document control workflow indicating the path the document followed, colored in green, to completion.

Most of the core processes in Quality Management Systems require workflow.  Document control is an obvious process where there are mutliple people collaborating together on the authoring, reviewing and approving of a document.  Workflow Modeling capability enables you to model your company's document control process, specifying all the roles, steps, rules, approvals, and decisions.  They system will then execute the workflow everytime a new document is created or is selected to be updated.  

One of the key advantages of this capability, as can be seen above, is a realtime view on the status of each document: where is it, who has it, how long has someone been reviewing it, was it approved or rejected, an so on.  A detailed and complete audit trail provides all the historical information necessary to pass any inspection or audit and to meet compliance with all ISO and 21 CFR standards.

In addition, the workflow model is defined by the company to meet their unique process needs. If the process changes, the modeler allows the company to very quickly update the workflow model so that it reflects the new process.  No programming or speciall skill sets are required.  Just an understanding of the company process and simple drag and drop.

Workflow capability is a very powerful feature to have in your QMS system.  Not only will it help you enforce your own unique company process, it also ensures everyone is following the right process, with full auditable history and visibility.

Do you have a Workflow Modeling feature in your QMS? Sign up today for a demo to see the power of Workflow + QMS. 

Tags: BPM, business process, Workflow, BPMS, Compliance, Workflow Managment, Document Control, Quality Management Software, Quality Management System, QMS

electronic signatures

Posted by Romeo Elias on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

After the advent of electronic record keeping and digitized business processes, the natural evolution for companies was to support electronic signatures.  The technological requirements to support this feature have been around for some time but the laws and regulations had to catch up.  Today, electronic signatures are very common and legally accepted in numerous industries to meet a wide variety of use cases and regulations. There are also many online signature tools like DocuSign and Adobe Sign (formerly EchoSign) that have become standard for applications in real estate, contracts, and insurance transactions.

Given the flexibility in interpretation of the applicable laws and regulations, there are many ways for business software systems to support electronic signatures.  Here are a few of the requirements you should consider when evaluating software options:

1. Association

Is the electronic signature associated with the specific electronic record or document that is being reviewed?  There has to be a technological and auditable way to link the electronic signature to the record.  This can be accomplished by taking a snapshot of the record when digitally signed and associating that snapshot with the signature.  It can also be accomplished by encoding the signature and other parameters to the specific document, i.e., inside the PDF or Word document itself.

2. Authentication

How do you ensure that the user digitally signing is authenticated? This can be accomplished in a number of ways.  Some systems rely on the user simply being logged in as a form of authentication and when digitally signing, the assumption is that it is the same person.  However, more stringent regulations like the FDA’s 21 CFR Part 11 require more verification that the user digitally signing is the same person and this can be accomplished by requiring the user to enter their password again at the point of digital signature to ensure authentication.  Some systems go further and require that the user maintain two separate signatures, one for the logging into the system and another for signing.

3. Auditability

How do you track and maintain a historical record of the electronic signature? Many systems provide a full historical trail of who signed the document or record and when it was signed.  Given the nature of electronic data and that it can be changed, some go further and track the exact information that was signed off on at the time of signature, so there is an exact record of what exactly was reviewed, even if the data changed later on.

Electronic signatures are critical for meeting compliance and for a comprehensive Quality Management System (QMS), among many others. In the not too distant future, electronic signatures will permeate all aspects of our lives.  I am sure the technology will evolve further and leverage other types of authentication and means of signature that we haven’t conceived of yet.

Tags: BPM, Workflow, Paperless Office, Paperless, Document Control, Quality Management Software, Quality Management System, electronic signature, Audits, QMS

Are You still customizing your QMS by modifying source code?

Posted by Romeo Elias on Mon, Dec 05, 2016 @ 11:21 AM

It is surprising how many companies today are solving their need to customize their Quality Management Software by modifying source code.  It is understandable why a company may want to customize a software to meet its unique business and quality processes.  However, software platforms have evolved so much that there shouldn't be a need to change or add code to the vendor platform.  Not only does this require expensive development skills and expertise, it also means that the company can no longer receive vendor upgrades to their platforms as they have branched out with their own custom solutions.

Intellect has built a full Quality Management suite on our award winning Business Process Management (BPM) platform, Intellect Accelerate, to solve this problem and provide many additional benefits.

  1. Below are just 5 of the many benefits of working with Intellect:

      1. 1. BPM Platform with No Coding Required

      2. BPM platforms are designed to enable companies to automate any business process. In addition, they are designed to enable constant changes to those processes. However, the process of automating a business process on a BPM platform does not require programming.  It is a drag and drop environment designed for business analysts and process owners. It enables them to control and make all the changes they want. They don’t have to rely on the vendor.

  2. 2. QMS Suite with Incredible Flexibility

  3. Intellect Accelerate is available with an out of the box QMS solution that includes all the core modules like Nonconformance Management (NCM), Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPA), Document Control, Change Management, Audit, Training, Supplier Management and Risk Management.  But being built on a BPM platform means every one of these processes can be modified by the company to fit their unique needs and process requirements.  Companies can add, remove or modify data fields, change business rules, change the workflow model, create custom reports and dashboards, modify security settings and on and on.  All this can be performed quickly and through simple drag and drop, without programming or modifying source code.

  4. 3. Automate Much More Than Just QMS

  5. With Intellect Accelerate, you are not limited to just the QMS processes.  The platform enables automation of any business process.  This means you can expand and automate other processes like Customer Complaints and Returns, Project Management, Time Tracking, Expense Reporting, Capital Expenditures, HR onboarding, Employee Lifecycle Management, Inventory, Asset Tracking, Bug Tracking, Issue Management, Incident Reporting, Work Management and many others.

  6. 4. Always Access the Latest Release

  7. Despite all the configuration changes you make to the processes or additional processes you automate, you can always upgrade to the latest release, and get the latest platform tools, enhancements and bug fixes. You are not stuck with an outdated custom solution that can no longer benefit from vendor innovations because you have modified source code.  BPM is designed with the expectation that each company will configure its own unique processes and make changes to them.

  8. 5. Advanced Workflow

  9. BPM includes a core feature which is critical for compliance and audits – workflow management.  With workflow, you can model your process flows, assign roles and requirements, and easily track each process with status indicators, reminders, notification, escalations, reports and full audit trails. In addition, you can easily modify the workflow as your process changes and evolves over time.

  10. The days of customizing source code to modify quality processes to fit a company's needs are numbered.  Sign up today for a demo to see how easy it is to use and modify the quality processes built on Intellect Accelerate.

Tags: BPM, Workflow, Compliance, Paperless, Document Control, Quality Management Software, Quality Management System, configurable, CAPA, Training, Supplier Management, Audits, QMS, nonconformance, NCM, Corrective Action, Preventive Action, Risk Management, Change Management, Customer Complaints

8 Mandatory Elements of a QMS System

Posted by Chris Fisher on Thu, Sep 01, 2016 @ 01:31 PM

 

Managing NonConformance (NCM) is an integral part of an organization’s continual improvement plan. Intellect’s QMS Platform enables organizations to capture, track and maintain accurate, auditable nonconformance records through a centralized database to have transparency for departments, sites, or locations. This allows organizations the ability to exceed audit, nonconformance, and corrective and preventive action requirements of common standards including ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.

Complaints Management software is needed for customer retention, compliance with industry regulations and avoidance of potential product liability lawsuits. Quality, compliance, safety, efficiency, and costs are impacted in addition to poor communication without a proper QMS in place. Intellect QMS includes change management, automation, version control, and workflows to communicate, acknowledge, and then implement any requirements.

Change Management software is imperative for closed-loop quality and requires automation, version control, and workflows. Intellect QMS integrates with any enterprise system, so full transparency is included in the change management process. The submission of change requests and control plan revisions can be included at any point in production.

CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Action) and product registration tracking are standard features to allow implementation of corrective and preventive actions. This will meet compliance with industry regulations including GMP, ISO 9001 and 14001, TSCA, REACH, etc. CAPA process workflows provide a controlled environment and reduce the risk of repeat issues by ensuring that defined CAPA solutions and processes are met.

Document Control/management organizes all documents into a centralized database with approval workflows and audit trails. This eliminates document redundancy, reduces the risk of manufacturing products with out of date SOPs, and creates efficiency in organizing documents.

Supplier Quality Management manages the process of qualifying, selecting, and monitoring suppliers and supply chain partners. Other requirements are supplier qualification workflows and tracking systems for supplier non-conformances and CAPA. Intellect QMS offers the flexibility and configurability to adapt to company specific business processes, requirements and needs. This allows organizations to define, track, manage, and report actions.

Audit Software reduces risk by enforcing consistent and harmonized processes while securely managing all information in a centralized system. In addition, it facilitates compliance with global government regulations and industry standards providing management the data needed to evaluate audit system effectiveness. It also provides auditors authoring tools required in the field.

Employee Training Software creates a single interface to develop and manage training initiatives organizationally. This allows enterprises to maintain a complete inventory of employee education levels, job descriptions and certification records. This will maximize the effectiveness of developing employee skills internally. Intellect QMS keeps employee certifications up-to-date as a full employee life-cycle enterprise management system.

If you’d like to learn more and create a QMS Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

 

Tags: BPM, Workflow, Document Control, Quality Management Software, Quality Management System, CAPA, Training, Audits, QMS, nonconformance, NCM, Risk Management, Change Management, Customer Complaints

3 Strategies That will Reduce the Fear of Workflow Automation

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 @ 11:43 AM

In my previous post, “Workflow Automation Can Be Scary!”, I outlined how workflow automation can be scary to many employees, as it creates uncertainty, introduces transparency and takes away control.  In this post, I will explain three well established strategies that will help address each of these concerns. 

1. Listening is key to managing the fear of uncertainty

Management has to invest the time to listen to everyone’s concerns.  Often times, the concerned employees just want to be heard, understood and feel like their concerns were taken seriously.  This can also provide key information that will be helpful in the design and implementation of the process.  It may be that adding a certain report or business rule is all it takes to alleviate some of the concerns, and it may also improve the workflow process when automated.  In addition, by listening, management can uncover and address some of the hidden concerns which may be less about the automation itself, and more about the reasons for it, i.e. will they lose their jobs. It is amazing how many problems can be avoided by simply listening.

2. Communicating the benefits is key to addressing the concerns around transparency

Transparency can stir fears in employees that they are distrusted and will be monitored by management after the automation.  It’s very important to address this by highlighting the many major benefits that transparency and visibility  provide to all employees in the process, not just to the organization. Some of these major benefits include: 

Saving time: Rather than employees spending their time chasing people and paper forms or searching through emails to get status information, a well implemented workflow automation project will provide key dashboards and reports that let everyone know the status of each process.

Providing peace of mind: A typical workflow system will send alerts and reminders to each person when their part is due.  This streamlines the workflow and increases peace of mind when running these processes.  The employee is no longer concerned that they may have forgotten to complete a task as the workflow platform keeps them alerted throughout.

Reducing frustration: Often times, the processes that are being automated are causing a lot of frustrations to many people.  Automation will improve their work life quality, and eliminate wasted time and rework due to mistakes.

Increasing productivity:  The goal for automation is to free up employees’ time to focus on higher value work rather than shuffling paper or manual processes that don’t add value.  They are able to be more innovative and produce more with less manual effort.

By communicating often and clearly the benefits of transparency and visibility from workflow automation, fear and distrust can be turned into anticipation and excitement.

3. Turn process owners into change agents to address fears around loss of control

Process owners can provide a lot of critical insight into the culture, uniqueness of the processes and skillset of the employees who will need to change.  Their resistance to change can be reduced greatly by listening to them, valuing their input and experience, and leaning on them early on in the implementation and even in the platform selection process.  They can provide valuable information that can influence the selection of the workflow solution as well as the design and architecture of the implementation.  By involving the process owners in the design process, their fear and uncertainty turns to pride and security, as they become the thought leaders, owners of the new automated process and designers of the system.  They will then turn into champions and change agents in the organization, helping with training and adoption of the system.

In conclusion, cultural resistance is one of the biggest obstacles to a successful workflow automation project.  Organizations who address this obstacle early on and directly with the strategies listed in this article will improve greatly their chances of project success. A well implemented and adopted workflow automation project will quickly become a success story given all the benefits and time savings it provides for everyone.  Within a few weeks of launch, most people will find it hard to imagine, or even remember, that they were running the process any other way.

If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

Tags: BPM, Business Process Management, business process, Workflow, Workflow Process Management, BPM Suite, Hosted Workflow, Manual process, change, BPMS, Workflow and Business Process Management, IT change, workflow automation, business automation

Top Preferences Clients Look for in Workflow Management PAAS

Posted by Chris Fisher on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 @ 10:26 AM

 

In talking to many customers that are researching a business process management or workflow management solution, I’ve compiled a list in no particular order, of top preferences. I have set price aside as there are vast differences in cost for off-the-shelf solutions and dedicated platforms and SaaS products. Below, I have listed the top 6 requests that most organizations will discuss early on when researching new products.

UI Design. Some people just call this the “skin.” It’s the look and feel of the product and its your first reaction to the quality and user friendliness of a PaaS or a workflow solution. If it looks too old or outdated, it will work for some companies, but for others, it will not even be considered.  Adoption is proven higher with better looking UI’s as they are more enjoyable on a subconscious level to work with. Colors, simple navigation, charts and graphs, reminders, company logos and other choices are all key in decision making.

A Flexible Platform. For most companies, a platform is needed that will be flexible and have many uses. Certainly some organizations will choose a product that has one specific function, but that will only suffice for a year or two until additional inefficiencies are discovered in multiple workflows. A platform that can bridge departments and connect with legacy applications is required for most mid-market and large companies. It also needs to pass the IT depts. scrutiny while being simple enough for business analysts to configure and for end users to use.

Mobile and Cloud Based. Most mid-market and large organizations are moving to cloud based architecture and look for mobile availability. Cloud application users have little to no maintenance and can allow access to anyone that has user rights.  Mobile apps are the standard now and many mid-market companies have CRM’s and external apps that allow easy access to clients. This is very popular in banking and retail businesses. Eventually most businesses will have some cloud-based solutions and mobile availability. 

Ability to Grow with Organization. Because all businesses expect to grow, a platform is needed that can scale at the same rate.  There are many functions, added tasks, departments and staff that will increase the load that is required of a workflow automation platform. The ability to make changes without the use of programmers or coding is a deciding factor for many.  Intellect’s Accelerate Platform with its no-code drag and drop technology is an example of a PaaS that can grow to any size.  

Speed in Delivery. Most businesses need to get up and running quickly. Nobody wants to spend months configuring, building, integrating and implementing. The reality is most of these tasks take time and it can be 3 to 6 months. With no programming and a team of business analysts configuring workflow apps, launching can happen in under 2 months. If the apps are built by Intellect’s Professional Services team, launching can happen sooner.  

Excellent Customer Service. This is a popular request for many companies. Its important that the platform vendor chosen is available and ready to help in all phases of designing, testing, integration and launch. After the product is launched, its also important to have a customer service team that is available to fix any bugs or problems. A PaaS provider that works with you for the complete lifecycle of the application will be a critical part of the success of the product.  If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

Tags: BPM, Workflow, Cloud, Low code platform, Compliance, Workflow Managment

Workflow Management Solutions: Off-the-Shelf Vs. Custom Development

Posted by Chris Fisher on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 08:29 AM

 

Many business are considering a workflow management system for their internal processes. The paperwork and emails are no longer manageable and with compliance and competitors to deal with, organizations are at a critical mass point in time, having to automate business processes. So the research begins on Google, and the amount of products is overwhelming. There are enterprise solutions, custom built apps, off-the-shelf software, and just about anything in between. But what is best, and what provides the most effective cost savings?

For the Fortune 500, most go with an enterprise solution that is built to spec. For mid-market organizations there are more choices. Many use off-the-shelf solutions for different departments. Some use custom built solutions and others like to configure drag and drop solutions themselves. This is a cost effective choice, as it doesn’t require programming. The key is to find out what the use-case is, determine if will it need to be changed or evolve with the business in the future, and what level of customization is needed for the software to be effective. This is probably the most confusing part of choosing a software provider for workflow management, forms automation, or document management. In considering budget and pricing off-the-shelf is cheaper, but will that translate to cost savings in the future?

Off-the-shelf software is a great choice as an immediate fix that will probably do 75% of what is needed.  But this is merely a Band-Aid in many cases as the 25% that remains will need to be customized for the organization to realize the full potential of the process. Spending a small percentage more on a drag and drop platform that users can configure themselves is a better choice, if there is staff on hand that has the time to build. The benefit here is that the workflow can be configured to the organizations exact specs because the specs are best known by the staff that will configure. And with this intimate knowledge of the internal process, evolution is possible and greater efficiencies are created. There are similarities on every organizational workflow, but as a rule no two are alike.

Probably the quickest solution would be a custom built platform configured by experts in the industry. Intellect’s Accelerate Platform and Professional Services Team can build very complex systems in a short amount of time. The cost is certainly more than an off-the-shelf product, or even and drag and drop solution, but the speed in delivery is often the deciding factor.  Most systems can be built, tested and launched in less than 60 days and changes are made as the organization evolves and grows. With these modern systems, expect them to be mobile ready, cloud based, and user friendly with an immediately recognized time savings. ROI’s are often realized within 6 months to 1 year.

In conclusion, when researching a workflow management system here’s a rule of thumb; off-the-shelf is an affordable quick fix, drag and drop is fully customizable and a bit pricier, and custom built is the best choice for speed, accuracy and delivery. If one considers the full life cycle of a custom built solution, the cost and time savings and efficiencies gained will outweigh any other product.

If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

Tags: BPM, Workflow Process Management, SaaS, Cloud, Workflow Managment, workflow automation

Workflow Automation Can be Scary!

Posted by Romeo Elias on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 @ 02:04 PM

 

Many companies are using business process management platforms to automate internal workflows that streamline their processes, increase regulatory compliance and digitize forms. From a business perspective, automation saves money and time, reduces training costs and lead times, and ensures a consistent experience for customers and employees.  This should be common sense for everyone in the organization, however, for many employees, workflow automation means change, and change can be very scary. 

Companies develop their culture and processes over many years and they become ingrained in people, policies and habits.  Thus, changing culture and processes is one of the most difficult challenges to overcome, especially when transitioning from manual processes to automated ones.  Most employees are afraid of change for three main reasons: Workflow automation brings uncertainty, creates transparency, and takes away control.

Workflow automation creates uncertainty:

Change always creates uncertainty in companies, and especially when the change is due to automation.  Is the automation intended to replace jobs with the software?  Or perhaps the automation is intended to cut costs and therefore it’s an indication that the company may be facing financial difficulties.  Could that mean layoffs are next?  This real concern causes employees to feel uncertain about their jobs and livelihood.  As it is often said, people are creatures of habit, and the status quo always feels safer, easier and better.

Workflow automation introduces transparency:

Most of the time, manual processes run slowly, not due to the process steps, but due to the friction involved in the workflow steps passing from person to person or from entering data multiple times in different systems.  That creates delays.  Some delays are unintentional (i.e. “the email went to my spam”, or “the file was under a pile of papers on my desk”, or “I had to rekey the data 3 times”), while others can be intentional (i.e. “I am going to wait on processing this so that I don’t get assigned too many”).  In any case, transparency eliminates all of the delays.  When a workflow is automated, everyone can see where the process is at, how long it has been with someone and when they were notified. In addition, real time reports can compare how long steps take to complete based on role or function. These benefits eliminate the ability for someone to hide behind excuses for not completing their job.  In addition, there is no need to re-enter data in different systems as the workflow can be integrated and send the data automatically which eliminates human error.  Transparency can make some employees nervous as they can no longer hide behind and blame the inefficiencies of a manual process.  Everything is visible and transparent.

Workflow automation takes away control:

Many long term employees at companies develop institutional knowledge over time, and when a process is manual, their input and knowledge is critical to ensuring the successful completion of the workflow.  Some people feel a sense of entitlement, power and security, if they are the only ones who understand the process and can ensure it is executed correctly.  As such, they feel they are in control over situations or can exert control when needed, given they are the experts and no one can challenge them and everyone needs their help.  When automation is introduced however, the goal is to codify the institutional knowledge into the system process rules, templates and workflow.  Those who felt safe in their positions due to the knowledge that only they possessed, now face the reality that they will no longer be needed to run the process.   Automation takes control away from an individual as the process becomes institutionalized in the platform and it guides everyone on how to complete it successfully.

In a follow up post, we will discuss and share best practices and strategies that will help overcome these fears and increase substantially the adoption of workflow automation. If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

Tags: Workflow Process Management, workflow automation, business automation

Mobile Apps Increase Internal Productivity

Posted by Chris Fisher on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 @ 07:38 AM

 

For the last several years most companies have concluded the need for a mobile app as a critical mass initiative, not unlike the social media push that made everyone Tweet endlessly in hope of seeing sales spike. In the end, social media has proved to be an excellent tool for customer relationship management and the hype did translate somewhat better than the fear based fodder that forced everyone into Y2K compliance. It’s true that the mobile app craze is great for client relationship management as well and many companies have had noticeable success with mobile apps. Imagine life without the Domino’s Pizza Tracker, Google Street View or Pokémon Go! But what about internal apps for employees who clutch their smart phones and sleep next to them? Couldn’t these appendages be used to make each employee more efficient?

Because most internal processes rely upon paper, emails, PDF’s, Word doc, Excel docs and verbal communication, wouldn’t it be easier to harness all that energy into a mobile app and create workflows, with reminders, approvals and digital signatures accessible on tablets and mobile phones? You bet it would. Better yet, by having a central viewpoint for all inner-office communications and collaborations, full transparency is realized. Additional benefits include speed and accountability. Compliance is met as well. What about CRM integration? Yes! So, an internal app for businesses would seem to be what the future holds for many companies to boost productivity and increase efficiency. 

Most businesses realize the move forward is inevitable but balk at the idea of having to build something that can do all this. Many cringe at the potential costs involved. This is where the misconception begins that it’s unaffordable and takes years to complete an internal mobile app. Intellect’s Accelerate Platform for example, allows organizations to configure their own internal workflows and allows every employee in the organization to have mobile access in a very short time-to-launch.  Yes, building an app from the ground up that can do all this would cost a small fortune, but configuring a platform to achieve full mobility is much more cost-effective and requires no programming.

When employees are offered a simpler solution that incorporates their smart phones, adoption is enhanced. Most everyone will agree that texting is easier than a phone call and similarly, using a mobile app is easier than sending an email or wet signing a contract. This is why most every Fortune 500 company has implemented some type of internal app for their employees to use 24 hours a day. With internal mobile apps, CRM access, project management, contract management and employee collaboration are in real time 24/7 and productivity is increased immediately. Once an app is available to users, more streamlining and additional solutions for increased productivity and time savings begin to emerge. If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

Tags: mobile apps, Workflow Managment, app development

Programming a VCR Seemed Harder than Building Business Apps Today

Posted by Romeo Elias on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 @ 08:21 AM

VCR-1200.jpg

 

It’s amazing how times have changed.  A couple of decades ago, that was the joke.  For those of you reading this who are too young to know or remember, a VCR, or Video Cassette Recorder, was what we had to use back then to record our favorite TV Show if we couldn’t watch it live.  This was before TIVO, Youtube or Netflix.  Viewers had to look up the schedule in a weekly publication of when their favorite shows were playing, and program the VCR to record the live TV show, so they could watch at a later time. 

The process typically required clicking a few buttons to update the date and time setting reflected on a small LCD screen on the front of the VCR.  It wasn’t too different from updating the time on a digital wrist watch.  The thing is, most people didn’t know how to do it.  It was considered very complex at the time. People would say “I can’t program my VCR” to imply they didn’t know much about technology, or some would make that statement to imply someone was not technical at all.

Skip two plus decades to today and it’s amazing how many of us are performing much more complex tasks daily on our smartphones.  Anyone today can schedule reminders on their calendars, send emails with attachments, respond to text messages with pics, perform online banking, change phone settings, download and delete apps and many more activities. User interfaces have evolved considerably over the years and they are much more intuitive.  But it is also true that people are much more comfortable with technology today, and less afraid to try new things. 

In addition, there is a shift towards doing things ourselves rather than relying on others.  Almost every service is available for us to do today on our own, without any help from experts, which many people relied on back then to program their VCRs, like tech support, banking, sharing information, publishing content, researching topics, going through airport customs, checking in for flights, and on and on.  We can even print our own products now with 3D printers. Outside of a few remaining government controlled services (printing our own passport for example) there aren’t many services that we as consumers/business users have not been empowered to perform on our own, or that there isn’t already a startup working on a way to enable us to do it.

In fact, business app development, which was once a frontier that was thought to be too complex for the average person to attempt, and reserved only for programmers, is now available for everyone.  With the advent of low-code and no-code software platforms, anyone can learn to build business and mobile apps, and many companies have purchased platforms to empower their “citizen developers,” as they are referred to today, to create business apps that automate and digitize internal processes.  Business users are now building apps to manage their business workflows, regulatory compliance processes, forms, workflows, and data.

A great question today would be, “how many of us would be able to program a VCR 20 years ago?”

If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

 

Tags: Business Apps, Business Automaton, Workflow Managment