How an Effective Workflow Helps You Improve Your Business

Posted by Romeo Elias on Thu, Sep 06, 2018 @ 09:18 AM

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Among the factors that affect how quickly a business will grow; one of the most important ones is undoubtedly efficiency. For example, there is a clear difference between companies that use paper-based processes and those that are entirely digital. To improve business, you need to have a streamlined process that ensures quality, and that is also easy to use at the same time.

One solution for improving your business process management is undoubtedly using workflows. An effective workflow helps you grow your business by providing the framework through which all tasks are done. Let’s have a look at what right workflow solutions can do for a company and how they are used in quality management systems.

What Is a Workflow?

Simply put, a workflow is the way employees get work done. It’s usually presented as a diagram or checklist containing a series of tasks that need to be completed sequentially. A workflow can be as complicated or as simple as you make it, but its purpose is to make work easier. Once all the tasks are laid out in a visually engaging manner, employees can go through them and check them off one by one.

It also allows managers to oversee the work process in real time. Workflows make it possible for managers to be notified of any delays as well, and with them, it’s easier to ensure every employee is following the company standards of work.

The Impact of Workflow Automation

Businesses that implement workflow automation gain the clear insight into the work process itself. That can have an instant and noticeable impact on the organization’s efficiency. The best part is that once automation is set up and all the roles, approvals, decisions and steps are defined, there’s no need to spend time setting up new workflows each time. In case of the process change, you can update the workflow to reflect the changes with a few clicks.

Business Improvements Brought on by Workflows

The benefits of gaining better insight into your organization’s business process management and making it streamlined are numerous. Employees will work faster as it will be easier to manage the inevitable delays and roadblocks. It’s going to make the collaboration of multiple people on a project much less stressful. All of this directly influences the overall performance of an organization. It also improves your quality management process, as some QMS solutions have automated workflow features.

Benefits of a QMS Solution with Workflow Automation

A QMS solution is a powerful tool since it can ensure business optimization through quality improvements and saving costs. However, an out of the box QMS solution that also incorporates workflow automation in modules such as Doc Control and CAPA can make all the difference when it comes to improving your business’ efficiency. With Intellect’s QMS solution, you don’t have to develop your workflow, although it’s an option — you can use existing ones or customize them.

Visit our website for more information about Intellect’s QMS solutions and how they help you streamline your business management process to improve your business.

Tags: workflow automation, Hosted workflow Solution, Workflow and Business Process Management, Workflow, Workflow Managment, Workflow Process Management

Managed Workflow Equals Quality

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Jan 02, 2018 @ 12:43 PM

 

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Managing workflow in any business or industry can be like trying to tame an octopus with its many tentacles, especially in today’s tech-centric production lines. However, effective workflow management and planning can do more than lead to efficiency and cost savings. It can also increase the success of data gathering and analysis in across the board quality management systems including CAPA and Document Control.

By keeping the right people in the loop and informed though a transition to digital workflow, your management team can improve information sharing and communication. Effective workflow management stems from a variety of practices and technological inclusions that replace older practices not designed to keep up with today’s rapidly changing business environments.

Get Back On Track Quickly

No business functions without quality and improvement. Systems like CAPA and Document Control benefit from improved workflow because information is disseminated, returned, and processed more quickly and accurately. When CAPA practices detect a regulatory anomaly on a pharmaceutical or medical device production line, efficient workflow enables a rapid correction to ensure a near instantaneous return to compliance.

Efficient workflow management reduces communication discrepancies and lags that may lead to production disruptions. When companies increase the reliability of delivered information and corrective planning and action, they reduce down time and the traditional non-digital evaluation period between a business process interruption and return to service.

Communicate Effectively with Team Members

One obstacle facing production businesses, especially those operating in remote and multiple sites, is ensuring that all team members have the latest and most accurate information regarding a company goal, directive, case management, or other time-sensitive communication. Information delivery provides feedback that leads to productivity, solutions, and drives quality control and customer satisfaction. A lack of shared information results in policy and procedural breakdowns that impair quality output and other business processes.

With employees working off-site, separate from management and quality control teams, the simultaneous delivery of information and management decisions ensures that your entire team functions as a unit. Some examples of synchronized information delivery accomplished through increased workflow management include:

  • Regulatory issues and updates
  • Workload assignments
  • Customer feedback
  • Task notices and deadlines adjustments

When every member of your team receives the same information, it eliminates the occasional system-wide hiccups that interrupt quality management, production, and output. Synchronized digital delivery eliminates the redundancy of paper copies and the need to file documents at a number of locations and offices when a single cloud-based alternative serves multiple recipients.

Keep Teams on the Same Digital Page

When a business relies on compliance and regulatory issues — such as FDA directives codified at the ubiquitous 21 CFR — every member of the quality control team needs the same up-to-date information at their fingertips. Communication among management personnel relies on integrated and autonomous workflow that includes delivery to key personnel who are aware of assigned tasks and problem solving procedures.

Effective business process management demands on-the-fly delivery, communication, and tasking. When a quality issue arises, you cannot afford to have team members thumbing through outdated manuals and regulations or not knowing their position in the QMS flow.

For businesses focused on strict regulatory compliance to critical standards, workflow management assures heightened responsiveness and effective quality performance. Eliminate lag times, outdated documents, and interactive missteps with an out-of-the-box QMS solution that incorporates workflow in both CAPA and Document Control modules. Should you wish to develop your workflow by customizing these modules or creating new ones, this is an ideal solution for your business.

Tags: Workflow, QMS, Hosted Workflow, quality, Quality Management System, Quality Management Software, Workflow Managment, Workflow and Business Process Management, Workflow Process Management, workflow automation, CAPA, Regulations, regulatory, Compliance, Customer Complaints, FDA, Document Control

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

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 Managment, SaaS, Cloud, Workflow Process Management, 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

What is the Cost Savings After Implementing a Workflow Management Platform?

Posted by Chris Fisher on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 @ 02:26 PM

 

 

Because so many businesses are still using paper, faxes, emails, etc. to communicate internally, most departments just think that’s the way it is. It doesn’t cost any extra to do this and it seems to be working just fine!  This was true for snail mail 20 years ago - until email showed up. The growing problems businesses are encountering without using a workflow management platform are: failure to meet compliance, no transparency, limited collaboration, lost paperwork, delays, time, etc. And because most of the preceding actions are buried in the salaries of the employees shuffling all this paper around, it goes unnoticed.  It’s just business as usual.

Until you understand and witness a really efficient business app that is in real-time, with full accountability, that meets compliance, that allows full transparency and where nothing can get lost. Something that allows full collaboration, speed in delivery, and that greatly enhances team efficiency. Something that can be accessed via mobile and in the cloud so employees can complete a task by touching their screen in a second while out of the office. Oh, and something that saves companies thousands of man-hours each year and as an added bonus, something that allows organizations to use less paper which is nice if you want to save some trees. The paperless office is now a reality and it just got a lot better than just paperless.

Even more interesting is that once an organization uncovers the need for a workflow solution, or a business app, many other opportunities seem to emerge as a result. Operations that previously seemed slightly productive become streamlined and take minutes to complete as compared to days. Tasks that are complex are simplified and improved upon. Anything that requires approvals, oversight, multiple signatures or is on paper or Excel can be transferred onto a platform like Intellect’s Accelerate and many hours can be reduced.

So, how much money can an organization save when implementing a workflow management solution? Here’s a simple calculation: If the average salary is $50,000 per year, let’s assume you can save 1 hour per week per employee that uses a business app or workflow solution. You would save 52 hours yearly per employee @ $26 per hour. That’s minimally $1,400 per employee. If you multiply that by 100 employees, you’d save $140,000 each year in time.

But the better question is, can you profit from using this type of system? The answer is yes. If you streamline all business processes, if you have a high user adoption, if you implement a platform in all departments of the business, and if you uncover additional inefficiencies as a result, you will see a profit. Not necessarily recognized as a financial dividend, but as a time savings of your employees where they will have more time to do their jobs and stop shuffling and losing paperwork daily.

When considering a workflow management software, it is important to not view it as an expenditure, but as an investment that will show a return on many levels. Most users will comment that morale is boosted, teamwork is improved, management is refined, transparency is enriched and compliance is met on all levels.  So, the cost savings are apparent and the market is seeing a critical mass movement toward workflow and process management platform implementation. 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

Discover the Benefits of Interneer’s Training Webinars

Posted by Romeo Elias on Mon, Dec 03, 2012 @ 11:12 AM

Interneer offers free training webinars run by Erika Keresztyen Fahey who is a Senior Business Process Analyst and Training Manager at Interneer. Every 2-3 months, a series of 7 classes is taught. The classes are offered to new and existing clients and partners.

Interneer’s online Training webinars provide attendees the knowledge and confidence needed to start a new application configuration or modify an existing one. Also, the sessions help our customers and partners understand the big picture of our platform instead of focusing on the technical details of the Intellect Platform.

The webinars are designed so that the trainees can attend several training courses in a short period of time without having to leave the office. The Interneer Training Courses are divided into three levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Special Topic.

 

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Beginner Level: The instructor begins with a blank slate and creates a small application. The intention behind these sessions is to get attendees familiarized with the platform and the goal is for attendees to learn where and how to start creating an application in Intellect. The instructor also provides different examples to help attendees think about how to implement a specific BPM solution for their business. 

Intermediate Level: During these sessions, the instructor introduces attendees to the workflow engine in more detail. Participants learn how fast, easy and scalable it is to create and modify a permit application management system, by dragging and dropping the data fields they want in their application.

Special Topic:  In one of the topics, the instructor teaches participants to add visual enhancements to their applications. They learn to add colors, images, header titles, and instructions. Another special topic covered is Admin Functions, where attendees learn about different admin functionalities such as how to take a backup of the database and restore previous backups.

 

How do attendees sign up?

Signing up for our upcoming Interneer Online Training Classes is fast and easy. Go to http://training.interneer.com/ to find out more details on when the next series of classes begin and to sign up. After you decide when and what class you want to attend, sign up for the class. Once approved, the attendee receives a unique GotoWebinar URL to use to login to their selected online course.

 

What materials are provided to attendees?

  • PDF Training manual document for the class they will be attending

  • URL to the Interneer Download page: http://download.interneer.com

  • Option to download previous recorded webinars and platform User Guides

     

Can attendees ask questions during the training?

Attendees are encouraged to participate and ask questions during the training session. To participate they need to write their questions in the Question Panel of the GotoWebinar tool. When a new question is entered it is read out loud by the instructor, so others can hear the question and the instructor answers it verbally. At the end of the session, all attendees are given time to have an open discussion on the material they just learned.

 

Are the Training Webinars recorded?

Yes, attendees can download for free at any time previously recorded training webinars by visiting http://download.interneer.com along with other documentation and training videos.

 

How much do the Training Webinars cost?

Interneer’s Training Webinars are completely free to everyone.  We encourage all our customers to sign up or download previous webinars as often as they need to help them learn the platform and best practices.

If you have any further questions regarding our Interneer Training Webinars please contact Erika Keresztyen Fahey at efahey@interneer.com.

 

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Tags: BPM, Mid Market, Training Webinars, Workflow Process Management

Interneer 1st Annual Partner Conference: Support Presentation

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Oct 02, 2012 @ 04:25 PM

How to best leverage support and minimize issues

Lenin Martinez, Customer Support Manager, discussed the best ways to minimize issues and leverage Interneer support.  In his presentation, he reviewed the difference between an urgent versus non-urgent support ticket, the process of submitting support tickets, and the different platform troubleshooting tools Interneer provides to help clients with technical support problems in the platform. 

During the presentation, Lenin also provided an extensive review of the various features in the Help Desk system, including how to setup customer sites, check the status of an issue and download the latest software release and platform documentation.  The presentation concluded with tips on how to maximize Interneer Performance and maintain a stable production environment as partners maintain and upgrade their customers’ sites.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation for this session.

Tags: BPM, Workflow, Workflow Process Management

Xchange 2012 Partner Conference

Posted by Romeo Elias on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 @ 03:57 PM

Just returned from the UBM Channel annual XChange 2012 conference. We had a chance to present, meet and speak with many solution providers across North America, who focus largely on SMB and Mid Market companies.

I was surprised to learn that the solution providers were not as aware and knowledgeable on Workflow and BPM as the customers they serve, especially the Mid Market focused companies.  However, as they learned what the technology was capable of, it became obvious to them how BPM and workflow management could help their customers and that the need was there. 

Being a cloud BPM solution was also a big hit among the solution providers.  It turns out their SMB and Mid Market customers have been aggressively driving demand for cloud based solutions and it was good to receive that feedback and validation.

Overall a good event and we will be updating our partner program thanks to their feedback and adding many more new partners to our channel.

Tags: BPM, Business Process Management, Workflow, Workflow Process Management, BPM Suite, Hosted Workflow, SaaS, Cloud, BPMS, Workflow and Business Process Management

Sharepoint and BPM

Posted by Romeo Elias on Fri, Jul 22, 2011 @ 10:39 AM

I'm often asked how is Sharepoint different than a BPM Platform?  If a company already is invested in it, can they use it to automate business processes and workflows?  Here's my view on Sharepoint:

Sharepoint is not a BPMS tool, it’s a content management tool. Fundamentally, it is a content management system (CMS) for organizing information and content in an intranet or extranet.  For example, many companies use it for sharing information internally and or with the public.  Essentially you can use it to create websites, portals, store and search documents. 

After integrating Sharepoint with Visual Studio, Info Path, SQL Server, Workflow Foundation, BizTalk Server and Outlook you can then begin to have a BPMS tool that a developer can begin to work with.  It's very complex, resource intensive, requiring high skill sets and is like a development environment as compared to a BPM Platform or Rapid Development environment.   

As a result, companies that attempt to implement business process management in Sharepoint find themselves spending a lot of time, money and resources to customize it, dependent on expert developers and with a system that is costly to maintain and improve over time.

As a rule of thumb, you are asking for trouble anytime you try to use a system out of its intended purpose.

Tags: BPM, Business Process Management, Workflow, Workflow Process Management, BPM Suite, Sharepoint, Workflow and Business Process Management