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Outdated business processes have got to go

No business can afford to have information flow impeded due to outdated business processes.

Automation and efficiency experts don’t always agree on what a business should prioritize as it seeks to survive and grow in an ever more complex world punctuated by increasingly frequent technology breakthroughs. But if there’s one theme that is surfacing more frequently than ever these days it’s this: No business can afford to have information flow impeded due to outdated business processes. An intriguing white paper cleverly titled “Are you running your processes or are they running you?” recently arrived in my in box from K2 (www.k2.com). Highlights worth thinking about:

• It’s all too common to see paper forms wander from desk to desk or office to office and see employees typing up hand-written information and logging in to multiple, disparate systems to collate data. Processes often become bottlenecked by misplaced forms, lost connectivity, or unsupported mobile access. These manual and paper-based processes cannot keep pace with the digital world, where users expect (and usually get) information on demand.

• In the move toward modernized business processes, mobility is a high-visibility goal. In fact, data shows that companies are eager to keep users productive no matter where they go and when they choose to work. Observers expect mobile solutions to bolster their bottom lines by accelerating the flow of data to the right people through capabilities like granular reporting, expanded insight into business operations, and customizable alerts. However, there are certainly caution signs on this road to modernization. It is crucial to remember that the ability to read documents on mobile devices is hardly modern. To remain productive, users need to interact with business systems and data, whether at their desks or not. It does users no good to receive an email on the phone about a required approval if they must then return to the office to access the system and sign a paper authorization.

• Companies are well aware of the benefits of Business Process Automation (BPA), but they are frequently frustrated by the high costs and long timelines involved with developing workflows and forms to support that automation. Those costs are especially daunting for businesses that want to extend workflows to their mobile users. It is true that the costs of BPA can be considerable, but the alternative—outdated, manual processes—are worse. In today’s highly competitive business environment, companies need every advantage possible. Efficient processes can provide the edge that companies need to thrive.

• Managing and reporting capabilities are needed to increase insight and efficiency. A management dashboard allows managers to view and manage all tasks from a central location, while detailed out-of-the-box reporting capabilities show users how their processes are performing. A dashboard can also help them identify trends or efficiency gaps that could help with risk management and forecasting.

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