IPS Blog

The Key to Visibility Into Your Business Processes?... You Have It But Don't Know It.

Mar 1, 2010 9:42:00 AM

The debate rages on over outsourcing, co-sourcing, offshoring and continuing to manage business processes internally. Depending on who you talk to and the way statistics are presented all can make a valid argument.

So who is right? They all are. Depending on the business circumstances any one of these models may be the most effective path. But when you consider your business processes - where the function is performed is - in fact - a secondary consideration. What is of paramount importance is your visibility into how the work is performed. And how do you get visibility into how the work is being performed? Through effective workflow.

Wait a minute - workflow is a series of steps - or sequence of events - that defines a business process. It is the linked flow of activities - from start to finish - that describes a process. All that is true. But that is not the biggest value workflow can bring to your organization.

What is more important than having a clearly defined business process? Having complete transparency into that process. And if you are not getting this transparency from workflow, you are missing a huge opportunity in your business.

Here's a brief case study to provide better context.

We received a call from a client who told us our solution opened up a "Pandora's Box" within their organization. Clearly hearing this expression made us think we did something wrong but it was quite the opposite.

These are the services we were providing to this client:

  • Document receipt and tracking
  • Document preparation and scanning
  • Delivery of data to client's ERP
  • Archival of documents in the IPS web based search and retrieval solution
  • Digitization of the discrepancy process

This is a fairly standard set of services for an IPS client and this client reported increased efficiencies and an overall much better process. So what about the "Pandora's Box" they said we opened up within their organization?

The client told us the IPS workflow we designed for their process gave them the ability to make fact-based decisions based on objective data rather than subjective data. Digitization made the management reporting much more meaningful.

Most of the digital processes were based on existing process policies. It quickly became clear that many employees were not following these policies, they were instead "doing it their own way," which in some cases was more efficient but not very effective. This was the "Pandora's Box" the client told us we opened. Management had a completely different perception of what was happening and this transparency and visibility gave them a dose of reality.

The workflow enabled them to identify who were the poor performers and why - and who were the exceptional ones - with analysis into why they performed so well. Then they used that knowledge to train the rest of their staff.

Therefore picking the method - outsource, offshore etc, - doesn't matter unless you have workflow that provides the transparency necessary to truly understand the effectiveness of your process.