Using the right Workflow Management System (WMS) is absolutely critical to the success of your business. Sadly, many implementations of WMS’ have resulted in significant adverse effects upon the business itself, and what is even more frustrating is that these have been wholly avoidable.
One major warning sign of a failed WMS deployment is that as soon as there is an issue, the entire company’s workflows grind to a halt. To avoid the pitfalls of deploying a WMS, you need to ensure the system will automate recurring tasks and processes, automatically follow-up and create alerts for unfinished tasks, and finally, give you visibility into workflows and provide you with performance metrics.
Getting the value out of your WMS requires time and application, and it is very important you do not settle for a tool which cannot deliver on the three major areas highlighted below.
When deploying a WMS, start by establishing the business steps involved in a workflow. Ideally, the process owner should be able to draw the workflow steps as a straight line, with the crucial steps within it highlighted and some narrative as to what needs to occur at these stages, for instance, be approved, be rejected, or have some work input performed.
Do not try to create a process that comprises technical activities as this will rapidly spiral out of control. Keep things simple with a straight line process and the critical steps or stages within it. The WMS should be able to let you input this simple, linear workflow into it, and it is then the WMS’ job to create the associated complexity which will then run in the background.
Custom Form Designers or WYSIWYG designers allow you to create forms which track the work through the system, and trigger additional workflow actions when an input is made into them. The ability to customize forms means the WMS will fit around how you do business, rather than forcing you into template processes and forms which mean you have to adapt to the WMS and not the other way around. If the WMS does not support custom forms, it is only going to act as straight jacket on your business and will create more problems than it will solve for you.
The WMS should also be accessible via a web browser, which means that your staff can access the WMS from any device, anywhere and anytime (subject to your security and permission rules). This means you have a truly Mobile solution, with sales people able to access the WMS at a client location, or third-party vendors able to directly update the WMS when they are responsible for delivering some part of the process.
Finally, security is of paramount importance, and the WMS will be handling and generating a lot of important and sensitive data. It is imperative that only those people you authorize can gain access to the data, however different people will have different requirements. A senior director may need full visibility into all data within their department, however a production worker only needs information on the immediate task in front of them. You are able to enforce security and access protocols by using Role Based Permissions, which assign levels of access to the WMS in line with their work role or job title. This allows for simple access administration, while enforcing data and information security.
Workflow Management Systems provide a wide range of business benefits, but in order to leverage them effectively you must ensure you have selected the right system to begin with. They have the power to unleash your business potential, or the power to smother it. It is vital you ensure you deploy the right system with the right resources and fully understand the functionality and feature set you have deployed.