We had a great summer weekend – humid, but nice. I headed out both days to take a spin on my bicycle and enjoy the breeze. Whenever I ride, I often see traffic infractions that directly affect me, the cyclist: a large, blue pickup truck took a wide left turn cutting me off at a green light so he could get ahead of me and a silver BMW blew through the red light while my light had already turned green. (Ironically, the same light on each day.)
In both cases, by not following the rules of the road, these drivers could have hit the cyclist – me – and caused damage. Why do we have traffic rules? Namely, we need to prevent chaos on the roadway and to ensure the safety of all vehicles.
Similarly, in business, in our organizations, we need to set up business rules to ensure our operations follow a protocol and eliminate guesswork. By establishing work rules, we know exactly how a process will function, and we eliminate the wildcards by not allowing individuals to follow a different path.
With ECM and automated workflows, one of the best things your company will find is that you establish the business rules and then the system operates according to those rules. Your team has specific accountabilities and you can monitor how they are doing. You can establish an escalation process – to prevent bottlenecks when people are absent for extended periods – to ensure your business process continues.
Of course, your business rules can be adjusted if you find that something is not working as you had initially thought – your ECM system is flexible. But, you also can establish the process flow that you need and facilitate change in your organization when people are reluctant to embrace new technology. A simple workflow can replace hundreds of phone calls that used to route to a department, like AP, because AP demanded paper or their process was not known to everyone. Instead of taking your AP staff away from the work they need to do by answering all those phone calls, you now have them focused on getting your invoices processed and dealing with the exceptions only.
A rules-based system always keeps an operation in check and while there may be a transition period for your organization to embrace technology, your departments with automated workflow will find they have an easier time navigating their route to digital nirvana.
Joanne Novak is a program manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. and is responsible for program development with the company’s Business Intelligence groups, including the Intelligent Information Management (IIM) practice. Her responsibilities are to build sales and customer-facing educational and thought leadership insights as well as strategic initiatives for IIM.