As our digital workplaces become more complex—and the wealth of data flooding our businesses becomes more overwhelming—an increasing number of businesses are turning to enterprise workflow solutions to increase efficiencies and help their teams run more smoothly. In fact, a record number of business process and workflow automation tools are available, for virtually any industry on the planet. The only problem: research shows they aren’t helping.
A recent study indicated nearly 70 percent of enterprise workflow solutions fail, often times due to lack of training, adoption, or human error. So how can companies find the right enterprise workflow solutions—ones that don’t just promise increased efficiency, but deliver results that will help their businesses improve? Try following the tips below for improved outcomes:
Agree on What is Needed
This sounds so simple, but it is often overlooked when it comes to software decisions. What is the goal in the workflow solution? Are you trying to improve efficiencies enterprise-wide or create a new workflow for a specific process in the chain? Each will involve a different type of solution, and not all programs will be able to fit both of those needs.
In addition, know that every department involved in the workflow solution should have a voice in choosing the software to ensure that it does what they need it to do, in a way that works for all others involved. Imagine purchasing an expensive system to improve customer service efficiencies without involving your customer service team. The team manager will undoubtedly have insights the IT does not on what works and what’s possible within the current environment. You may need to hash out some office politics to come to a solid conclusion—but it’s better than purchasing an expensive solution that doesn’t serve its intended purpose.
Do Your Due Diligence
Reading a list of product capabilities is not enough to make a solid enterprise workflow decision. Interview your vendor, ask for—and contact—relevant references, and review any manuals or training materials they’ve developed in the past. Select vendors with the right software, training, and implementation track record. Ensure they can personalize your solution as your company needs to use it, rather than making your company adjust to the way their systems work—a problem that virtually always leads to low levels of adoption within the enterprise.
I have a colleague who worked at a contract engineering firm that invested thousands into proposal-tracking software—software that could push out lots of statistics about proposals, but none that fit what the engineers themselves wanted to know. Instead of an active system meant to make project tracking faster and easier, it became a library of information that was difficult to access, analyze, and use. Remember: A complex system doesn’t always equate to a better system. A program can offer all the bells and whistles in the world, but that doesn’t matter if your company needs a tambourine.
You wouldn’t launch a huge marketing program without beta testing in small markets, so why would you purchase an expensive enterprise-wide software without doing the same? Start with a small group of invested individuals and take their feedback into account before launching the program enterprise-wide. This includes not just feedback about the efficiencies they are seeing, but how easy and insightful the program is to use. If it isn’t, you will likely experience problems with adoption at the enterprise-level, which will cut into your efficiencies long-term.
The right business process or workflow management system will help you map your processes, spot bottlenecks, and determine better responses than those you are currently making. They will also help you build a clear, solid foundation of instructions to ensure that those processes are always followed. The roadmap and the strategy go hand in hand when it comes to improving enterprise workflows. But it’s up to leadership to determine that tools are put in place for enterprise-level efficiencies to come to fruition.