Smart Process Applications: Adaptive workflows for agile business processes

Nalaka Withanage Uncategorised Leave a Comment

There has never been a time in our history where the value of data and turning them into actionable information in a consistent and repeatable manner has been crucial that defines the  success or the failure of a business. 80% of customer interactions with a business today are  unstructured. This means the flow of the processes cannot be defined upfront by setting hard and f  fast rules. It’s a series of human interactions not always happens in the same sequence as a typical  rule based workflow would expect.

Modern business process management solutions must be adaptive and agile enough to cope with changing business needs.  This is where traditional rule based workflows and electronic form technologies were constantly challenged often failed to meet changing business needs. If you are planning to re-engineer your existing electronic forms and workflow application or in the process of planning your next process automation project I hope you found practical ideas shared in this post useful.

Why Smart Process Applications? In short Smart Process Applications are designed to handle information intensive and human-centric business activities in efficient and compliant manner. They are designed to improve forefront efficiencies of businesses. They are collaborative in nature. We are talking about information and knowledge worker productivity and empowering them to provide rich customer interactions through innovative use of technology.

So what are some of the challenges that Smart Process Applications address?

Financial Services Customer onboarding or account openings, investment account transfers,mortgage and loan applications, capture of trailing documents
Insurance Customer onboarding or new account applications, new policy quotes,claim submissions, capture of trailing documents
Healthcare Dynamic case management, New patient onboarding, claim submissions,explanation of benefits, capture of trailing documents
Supply Chain Accounts payable automation (invoices, purchase requisitions, receivingdocuments), orders, proof of delivery, waybills and airbills

What’s unique about above processes? They are collaborative, information intensive and involve unstructured and semi structured content as data input. More importantly above processes needs more customer interaction than any other.  Surprisingly many organisations try to create rule based workflows and electronic forms under the assumption that it would solve the core challenges associated with above processes.  But failed to deliver its promises resulting poor user adoption waste of time and market opportunity. Here are the reasons.

1. Bridging the gap between Systems Of Records and Systems Of Engagement

Smart Process Applications should be able to bridge the gap between Systems of Records (applications built for internal use such as your ERP, CRM, DMS or custom database applications) and Systems of Engagement. Systems of Engagements are the channels that customers interact with. They are the channels that a business communicate with your Customers, Partners, Suppliers and Employees. Today there is a huge transaction friction between Systems of Records and Systems of Engagements.  Smart Process Applications should be able to bridge this gap without having to modify core backend systems that organisations have already invested. Many electronic forms and workflow solutions out there have failed to deliver this vital requirement.

2. Data is the new oil that powers customer focused business processes

Systems of Records are data hungry systems.  This means they are designed with the assumption that someone would enter all data and metadata to fulfil the transactional data processing requirements. However relying on human operators to manually feed data into Systems of records has proven to be inefficient and error prone. Smart process applications should facilitate seamless dataflow into the downstream systems of records with least human intervention or re-keying of data. High quality data streams from both internal and external to the organisation (such as social data) is the new oil that powers high value customer focused business processes.

3. Process agility

Human centric business processes needs to be dynamic and adaptive.  The solutions must be flexible enough to change as business needs change without going back to drawing boards and coding. Ability to flow data into downstream processes without blocking core activities when things go outside the planned route is a vital attribute of Smart Process Applications. We humans think and act in analog not in digital.

4. Process efficiency and compliance, the two sides of the same coin

There has never been a time in history where the organisations are forced to meet regulatory standards and ensure compliance in relation to customer interactions. Most organisations in the past used to handle business process efficiency and compliance as two separate things. Compliance was more of a compliance manager or record manager’s job. But not anymore.  Today the business process efficiency and compliance is like the two sides of the same coin. It’s not anymore a backend process. Processes must be compliant from the very first customer interaction all the way till the transactions are completed and thereafter.

5. Process analytics over business intelligence

The idea of automation is to measure and improve business operations. Process analytics is your new gauge of measuring the success. Don’t do automation without it.  Please note that process analytics is not about traditional BI and reports which provides reports historical data. Process analytics allows you to drill into the transitional process to identify bottlenecks and do something about it before it hurts.  Therefore it is a vital element in business process automation.

So there you are. Above are the 5 pillars of a modern day Smart Process Application. At the end of the day business is not only a set of rules, it’s a conversation involves higher level of human interaction. Therefore it is important to choose the right platform and the methodology for the right job. Smart Process Applications are the new era in electronic forms and workflow technology for agile and information intensive business processes. How flexible is your current electronic forms and the workflow solution in meeting your current business needs?

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