Document Workflow is a structure system and set of tools that provide the capability to control the sequences of steps a workflow is to take, the participants of the workflow, the inputs/outputs and communications involved with workflow outcomes. Automating document-centric business processes has a multiplier effect when it comes to realizing tangible and intangible savings from Enterprise Content Management (ECM) projects. As a result, incorporating automation through document workflow management solutions is often where the focus with new Enterprise Content Management (ECM) projects lies. For an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, there are several key aspects to where workflow can be used to manage and automate business processes. Document Capture Workflow looks at how documents come into an organization and how they make it into the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution.
Documents arrive via every nook and cranny in the business/organization. The key is to make sure that you identify the number of ways you want the technology in the Document Capture Process to be leveraged to provide control and automation to the mediums by which the documents arrive. For example, paper documents will get scanned, electronic documents may get uploaded by a user, emailed documents may get automatically polled and imported or may require users to control the process and automated file imports may be setup upon the arrival of just a document or another file which includes the metadata for the document.
The next item for consideration is the indexing process. That is, who can fill out the key information that describes a document so it can be stored to the right location and be easily found again? Things to consider might include geographic location, shift, subject matter expertise, optimization levels to meet different service level agreements and more. If forms processing or intelligent document recognition is in place, it will be important to allow fields to be skipped and whole documents or even batches to skip the indexing process. Customized batch routing may need to come into place to create, break apart and/or restructure batches of documents to meet the unique requirements for document indexing. How users get documents to index is also important. Will documents be pushed to them or do they have to pull the documents to get access to them? Will users be able to pick and choose what they want to index or will their work be automatically fed to them? These are all important considerations when working through the indexing process. Last, but not least, would you have any further indexing needs after the document hits the repository?
Another key step in the document capture process is the potential conversion of document formats. Some organizations store their documents as PDF files or perhaps Multipage Tiff files regardless of the format they start as. This is often done to ensure that their users have a consistent experience opening up documents stored in the Sharepoint repository. Doing this conversion during the Capture process ensures that all documents being stored in the Sharepoint repository go through this process.
Lastly, communication may be necessary. When the system’s performing well, who needs to know and what do they need to know. When the system’s having issues, who needs to know and what do they know. Is there any business value in alerting people upon the arrival of documents into the organization during the Document Capture process as opposed to simply notifying people when the documents have been stored to the Sharepoint repository? Does the Document Capture system need to communicate with other business applications or workflow system beyond simply storing documents to the repository?
The type of workflows that will be initiated by a document will vary greatly depending on when the document enters the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. If a document enters the system after it has been routed around the organization already, it will initiate workflows that are quite different from the types of processing that would be required if a document is brought into the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system as soon as it has been received or authored.
The ability to handle an indefinite loop, where two or more people could go back and forth on something an undefined number of times is often requested to mimic person to person interaction. Sometimes tasks need to be responded to by multiple people. In this case, some kind of voting may be required or its just first response wins. The ability to route different tasks in parallel also is a common request. This enables the workflow to be completed much faster than through typical paper-based means.
There are cases when Document Workflow is just not one document, but a collection of documents. Similarly, there can be needs where a set of documents need to be evaluated and the arrival of an additional document to the set pushes the workflow forward or redirects the workflow in a new direction. Handling what is included in workflow, what simply contributes to the workflow and what exists in the repository but has no relevance to the workflow - all must be carefully examined.
Most Document Workflow management tools provide a way for users to delegate workflow document assignments to another person in the business/organization. Netlocity's Document Workflow specialists provide due diligence to see how important user-driven and system-driven task reassignment is.
Escalation is often confused with delegation, but these are two different concepts. Escalation is a user or possibly a system setting that reassigns tasks from one user to another based on a system policy (generally based on response time). In other words, because a user didn’t respond to a task within the agreed upon timeframe, it is then escalated to a manager or some other user within your business/organization for response.
Do you have frequent turnover in your organization? The premise of utilizing a Role assignment with workflow allows users to come and go, and move around the organization without having residual work remain assigned to them. Rather the next person who fills that role is automatically assigned as the new owner of the task.
How do the users engage with the system? Do they go to a portal, or some kind of client application that manages the workflow? Is the workflow intertwined with your business applications and functions? Is the workflow accessed through the documents? Do users interact with document workflow through email, text, Instant Message or other communication mechanisms? Do workflow items get pushed to users, or do users have to "pull" or find their work, or both? Netlocity Document Workflow experts considers all of these questions in coming up with a workflow solution that works best for your business/organization.
When looking to add workflow to an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, one of the key decisions is what workflow software should be used. Often times the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) vendor will have its own solution and often times your Business applications will have a workflow component. Which one is the right choice? The answer is determined by whether the document(s) is/are driving the process or merely participating in the process. For example, a workflow to approve meeting minutes might be best done with a document centric workflow tool. However a workflow to create a checking account, where at some point a signature card needs to be received, may be best done in the Bank’s Core system that has an integration point to be alerted if/when the document arrives.
Document Workflow management solutions will even have some "out of the box" connectors to specific applications or middleware software. Because this is such an instrumental focus of where Return on Investment (ROI) comes into play, Netlocity Document Workflow experts will review capabilities for application integration and also determine how much custom programming can be saved by leveraging what has already been pre-built in terms of business application connectors with Document Workflow solutions being recommended.
Let our team work with you to bring together people, process, and technology to transform your organization with a Document Workflow solution.
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