Whether you work in a marketing agency or law firm, you have probably experienced some of the frustrations inherent in a manual workflow process. File version issues, unread emails, and chasing down signatures are far too common complaints. As Corporate Performance Management (CPM) technology advances, more and more companies are moving away from dated processes, in search of improved accuracy, accountability, and vital time-saving measures.
Here are some key considerations when designing a workflow.
It can be tempting to replicate an existing workflow directly into a CPM system to reduce change management. However, a CPM implementation is often the perfect time to re-evaluate your processes and identify potential improvements. Are there recurring approval bottlenecks? Do you have a high error rate? Does Jim have trouble finding the latest version of documents when Pam is on vacation?
While going from a manual process to a CPM solution will almost certainly be an improvement, asking questions like these will get you closer to reaching the system’s full potential.
Manual, labor-intensive tasks slow down a workflow and prevent your team from focusing their productivity on analysis, innovation, or other areas that benefit the business. CPM solutions can automate in seconds tasks that would typically take hours or days to complete otherwise. While not every platform has the same features, document automation, instant data aggregation, data validation and automated reminders are common across most solutions.
Ultimately, designing for automation involves not just knowledge of software features, but an understanding of your processes to know where automation can be introduced, for improved speed and accuracy.
Flexibility in your workflow can mean be the difference between delay and disaster. A well-designed process involves planning for when things go wrong since while data and file errors are unfortunate, they are almost inevitable. What you can do is configure your system to be flexible with tools such as dynamic task due dates or a flow that allows iteration between data inputter and reviewer. As the owner of the process, part of having a flexible workflow is having the control to make manual adjustments on the fly. If a user is on vacation but forgot to submit their data, you will want to make sure you can keep the flow moving. Most CPM solutions include workflow dashboards or visualizations so that power-users can quickly see the status of a given process. Arming yourself with these tools will let you stay on top of any issues and quickly deal with them.
While last in this list, data security is often a top priority for organizations. The good news is that keeping data confidential and easily accessible are not mutually exclusive. One way to have confidence that your data is secure is by building multiple layers of security. For example, utilizing both document-level security and system-wide data permissions limits the chance of data getting in the wrong hands. File and data audit functionalities are another level of security that should not be overlooked. Being able to track file access, data submissions, and reviews in a comprehensive audit history can prove invaluable
Although out of the box workflow features are often an immediate improvement by themselves, they do not exclude the need for careful design. As someone who understands the existing process, you have the greatest ability to improve your workflow. Through good planning and clever design choices, you do not have to settle for anything less than exceptional!