President Obama’s recent Executive Order: “Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service,” is an excellent call to action to Defense and Civilian agencies to leverage self-service technologies to cut costs while also improving efficiencies.
As consumers, we’ve embraced self-service in everything from getting money at the ATM versus a bank teller to using online software to help us complete our tax returns. These conveniences are made possible by intuitive business process applications, and they make our lives easier, they keep us more informed and they allow us to be in control.
While the world at large is embracing the self-service paradigm, enterprise organizations in both public and private sectors are just starting to look at this concept as a path to improved efficiency and streamlined operations. Hopefully this Executive Order will inspire government leaders to look more closely at this approach.
From executives to support staff, the people who run today’s government organizations don’t have access to the same types of technology tools that we as consumers take for granted. For many agencies, creating a simple ad-hoc report still requires IT involvement, and many enterprise activities – from acquisition to human resources – remain bogged down in heavy and inflexible, traditional applications.
The good news is that progress is being made. Today, government organizations have started to leverage business process management (BPM) technology, particularly dynamic BPM, to help close this self-service gap. Thanks to advances in dynamic BPM, which is far more agile and flexible than traditional enterprise applications, self-service capabilities are now available to enterprise users. This paradigm shift is what we call “enterprise self-service.”
When implemented effectively, enterprise self-service empowers users within an organization with the same capabilities that they have come to expect as consumers, now applied to their business.
Making Complex Processes Simple And Intuitive
I believe it is safe to say that most American citizens don’t understand the ins and outs of the U.S. tax code. Yet, on April 15th of every year, a large portion of Americans complete their taxes without ever having to consult a tax expert. They use web based tax solutions, which consolidate the complex tax forms that people need to file. Through these solutions, this information is presented in a straightforward, easy-to-use format that the average person can understand. Users file their taxes faster, and track their progress as they file online. Automated tax systems also immediately notify users if there are any issues or errors, which can avoid a huge headache further down the road.
In the work world, enterprise organizations are turning to dynamic BPM tools to build similar features into their business processes and web applications. For example, last summer the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office unveiled a new online portal for its clean energy loan guarantee program. The program grants low-cost, long-tenure loans and loan guarantees to clean/renewable energy projects.
To be considered for a loan, applicants are carefully screened through a rigorous application and review process. Before, this entire process was handled through complex paperwork and a cumbersome legacy system. Using dynamic BPM, DOE had the power to Web-enable the entire application, consolidate and streamline the application process and improve the overall end-user experience. The new online portal has been tremendously well-received, helping users submit applications in as little as one day, versus the weeks that it used to take. Revisions can be made quickly and easily, saving significant time and reducing errors, resulting in a great user experience.
Using enterprise self-service helps make government workers more efficient as well as more self-motivated and self-reliant. Dynamic BPM is the driving force behind this approach. Designed for rapidly creating self-service business process applications, and supporting the often ad-hoc nature of most business processes, dynamic BPM can transform an organization’s processes down to the user level. This empowers individual employees with the capabilities that they count on in their personal lives, leveraged to help them better meet their constituents’ needs.
Harry Clarke is President and CEO of HandySoft, a leading global provider of Business Process Management (BPM), Tasking and Compliance software and solutions for government and business organizations worldwide.