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

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

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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

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