Recently, there have been several articles about companies moving to cut back or somehow control email, including an item on NBC News. Organizations are beginning to rebel against email’s constant, increasing presence – and realizing that by itself, email isn’t a solution to most business challenges.
Yes, email is great for communication. But too many organizations also depend on email for collaboration – and email provides no visibility. And many organizations also depend on email for execution – and email provides to tracking, no control, no auditability.
So the real question might be: can today’s government organizations actually improve efficiencies and execution if they cut back on email? We believe the answer is yes.
Email is central to most government organizations’ day to day workflow – and the business tool many of us love to hate. It is all-consuming, constant – and it doesn’t provide the visibility, knowledge capture and control that’s often needed to ensure efficiency. It’s exactly these challenges that new, dynamic BPM tools solve.
Historically, BPM has been used with great success to eliminate inefficiencies, increase visibility, and control highly structured processes where users complete predictable, scripted activities like reviewing, updating and approving work assignments. For example, BPM has been implemented to improve human resources, procurement and contracting, or back office programs.
Today, savvy government professionals are leveraging dynamic BPM to help with unstructured or dynamic activities as well, such as email, where personnel spend much of their time and energy. Unlike structured activities, dynamic activities are constantly changing, depending on what is asked for and who can help. Since these collaborative efforts are unscripted, organizations seldom have visibility into what happens, who is involved and what decision criteria applies.
Analysts agree that roughly 80 percent of all activities are unstructured. Task management, action tracking, organizational projects and planning, correspondence management, mission management, and case management are just a few examples of these dynamic activities, often managed or driven through email.
Dynamic BPM tools are designed to focus on an organization’s unstructured, collaborative and – sometimes chaotic – business activities. What’s different about dynamic BPM tools is that they’re capable of dynamically tracking and discovering processes, as they happen, to capture knowledge for repeatable success in the future.
In terms of knowledge management, dynamic BPM tools offer organizations visibility into how high-performing knowledge workers operate, collaborate and make decisions. This information can be compared, studied and help guide best practices in the future. Since some email collaboration occurs even in largely structured processes, these dynamic BPM tools can also be used to continually improve structured operations as well.
The key to success in leveraging dynamic BPM tools – as with any change in technology – is ensuring that management and the end users see the value in adopting this new set of tools to carry out their work. To help ensure success:
• Dynamic BPM tools should mirror the technology that knowledge workers are already comfortable with, which is often email. A successful dynamic BPM initiative must offer a simple, integrated, email-like collaboration technology. Dynamic BPM tools must be able to balance collaboration with structure to prevent over-engineering or forcing structure where it doesn’t exist. To ensure employee engagement, knowledge workers can’t feel trapped within a rigid set of workflows. It must be adaptive to their business requirements and should provide flexibility to intuitively complete complex process work.
• To ensure success, organizations need subject matter experts capable of championing, developing, implementing and evolving showcase caliber processes. We have been pioneering process automation for twenty years and knowledge transfer to our customers has always been a top priority. Organizations considering any BPM solution should demand what we call ‘Trainmentation’, a combination of on the project training, mentoring and implementation, to achieve both smooth knowledge transfer and customer success.
Email doesn’t need to be a bottleneck for your organization; when implemented effectively, dynamic BPM solutions can replace many processes now being done through email, while providing greater visibility, tracking, and accountability. It is a win-win scenario that enables users to take greater ownership over their business processes, while enabling organizations to capture the insights and process knowledge to ensure support of the mission. And it cuts down significantly on the frustrations of email.
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.