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Business processes under the microscope
Business processes under the microscope

Piotr Ukowski

The word “crisis” has been tossed around by the media for years; it’s even frightening to use it in the first sentence of the speech. However, many entrepreneurs perceive a crisis as an opportunity, or at least as a chance to make changes.

Some time ago, Gartner's report indicated that streamlining business processes is a priority in business. This is due to the fact that companies look for reserves in their own organization to release latent potential. Hossa does not let you focus on the details. It forces you to rush forward; it does not tolerate looking back, and only a spike in market competition tells you to look at processes that work (or do not work!) in the company.

Hence the increased popularity of investing in systems that help to better organize an enterprise (workflow systems) and search for the weak points of the organization (Business Intelligence systems). There are many myths surrounding them both; let's focus on the former.

What is a workflow system?

Simply speaking, it is a process-oriented tool that supports group work in an enterprise. Therefore, the common identification of workflow systems with document management systems is an important, unjustified restriction of their functions. Of course, electronic document circulation, feed journal organization or archives are inseparable elements of the workflow system but not the only ones and certainly not sufficient ones.

A modern workflow system must allow the implementation of any object in the company, in the required manner, by any number of desks, maintaining full control over the process, maximum simplicity, intuitiveness and flexibility, and with advanced search capability. In order to explain these requirements:

  • “Any object” is everything that works in the company within the process: from an incoming e-mail, through invoices, holiday requests, tasks, to communicating regulations and reservations of enterprise resources, while reducing as much as possible the circulation of paper copies
  • “Required manner” means that it must be possible to define the status of the object in the process for particular people
  • “By any number of desks” means an opportunity to freely develop the process, determine the conditions to whom the task should be assigned, and what criteria must be met so that it could go further; sometimes an action of one person is required, sometimes an action of the whole group or the acceptance of at least two people, etc.
  • “Maintaining full control over the process” is easy access to the necessary information: who, what and when it should be done, whether there are any delays and how long they are, etc. as well as the possibility to make corrections: taking over tasks for absent employees, balancing the workload of employees, etc.
  • “Maximum simplicity, intuitiveness and flexibility” is primarily a reduction of system operating costs and costs of training for new employees
  • “Advanced search capability” is the basis for an effective repository of documents: invoices, projects, applications, procedures, or actions undertaken within specific projects.

Workflow systems are already proving effective in companies employing a dozen or so employees, so wherever efficiency, collaboration and effective information exchange are most important. It is so because hardly anyone today can afford chaos in work organization and documentation.