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Mapping Out Your Business Workflows with Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

Amy Flesch
09/28/2021
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Workflow is one of those words techies throw around to make things seem more complicated and mysterious than they really are. But all businesses have workflows – some manual and some automated. All we’re talking about is any series of steps that need to be completed to get work done.

Workflows are used every day for tasks like approving purchase requests or employee onboarding.

Unfortunately, workflows can get more and more complicated as a business grows. While many organizations still use manual workflow methods, automated document workflows streamline any process by following structured, time-saving activities.

To make workflows effective though, a business needs to take the time to map them, giving insight into how your processes work and where they might be broken. Only then can they be fixed with automation or improved with a technology solution like Electronic Content Management (ECM) software.

HOW TO DRAW A MAP

Do you have too many data silos? Are you looking for a way to automate document capture processes? Are you looking for a platform to increase collaboration and manage data storage? Is cloud adoption in the works? Before you can tackle any of these challenges, you will need to map your existing workflows.

To begin, gather the right stakeholders together, including leadership, legal, records management, IT, HR or Finance and the front-line people who perform or oversee the tasks you are revamping. Once you have your team in place:

  1. Identify the task you want to perform – what’s the start, and what’s the intended finish (or next) state
  2. Let the people who currently perform this task map/workflow their actual process
  3. Map a more efficient – and practical – set of processes to complete this task
  4. Look for bottlenecks, look for ways to break them into parallel actions and add this into your workflow documentation
  5. Update the documentation; train and remind your workers on any new steps
  6. Revisit after this has been in practice for awhile
  7. Rinse/repeat and refine the process as needed.

FOLLOW THAT MAP

None of this will happen in a day but it makes it possible to deploy ECM solutions to automate your workflows. The most critical aspect of implementing an ECM solution is the planning process and determining exactly what functions you want it to perform and which problems you need it to fix.

In addition to mapping workflows, an ECM provider can help you take inventory of existing hardware and software to determine their capabilities and how they may or may not align with your goals. This is an exhaustive assessment that takes everything from computers, tablets and smartphones to networks, firewalls, servers, software, cloud services and more into consideration. After determining your existing infrastructure, you’ll be able to establish what needs to stay, what needs to go, and whether any new systems will need to be acquired.

X MARKS THE SPOT

Once the right solutions are established and teams with the right skill sets are formed, organizations can focus on tweaking and fine-tuning their processes to streamline and future-proof operations—for tomorrow and five years from tomorrow.

For example, this could include automating certain stages of a workflow, ensuring your architecture is set up for easy integrations, or reducing the amount of review cycles to make the content development and publication process more efficient. This phase requires ongoing, continuous management and monitoring to ensure that the organization is adapting in real-time to avoid any massive overhauls down the road.

In this way, businesses can move forward in their digital transformation efforts at a pace that’s comfortable. If you’d like help assessing and mapping your workflow solutions, contact the ECM experts at the Gordon Flesch Company. Our team of analysts will help you tackle any workflow challenge in a systematic and organized way.

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