DOCUMENT Magazine - December 2008 - (Page 8)

BPM: Jim Minihan IMPROVING THE WAY YOU PROCESS Form-ing a Work ow Process examination of any enterprise, public or private, will find hundreds, if not thousands, of forms used to conduct all manner of transactions, including requesting new forms. For as long as people have constructed complex organizations with intent to conduct business or govern, there have been forms. In fact, the earliest “how to” of all this may well have been the “ars dictaminis.” ese instructive compositions arguably date back to 1055 and were intended to guide letter writing to particular purposes. One early example by a Florentine master (circa 1150) provided a “formulae” for students sending letters to their family updating them on the progress of their studies and how to ask for more money — no, I am not making this up. No doubt, for almost as long, forms have paired particular content along with a process to meet a purpose. In the realm of paper, business forms have long been considered very serious business. Many forms manufacturers hire sales people with industrial engineering backgrounds so that they could properly assist customers in developing the best layout of a new form prior to production. Forms have been and will remain a cornerstone of all organizations, and although electronic forms are making great strides (especially where they are web-initiated), paper forms continue to flood into offices everywhere. In fact, it is likely still true (though I have not checked in several years) that the annual gross revenue of just one major form manufacturer, which many of you may be familiar with, is greater than the annual gross revenue of all the workflow and business process management software applications combined. Some of the earliest uses of workflow applications were for form-based process approvals. As form automation software applications came to the market, many of their developers understood the need for workflow and included it as part of the comprehensive application. From the product point of view, this is a great addition, but from an organization’s infrastructure management point of view, it is just one more example of the importance of process management applications and further evidence of a growing problem. It seems like every application entering the enterprise today touts some process management or workflow capability, and each of them represents yet another application to maintain that seems to do the very same thing as the others. A huge amount of business is conducted through the use of forms — electronic as well as paper. Your approach to managing all the related processes needs to consider how many of your internal systems are involved and how broad a view you want to take. If the form is an application for some kind of account, then perhaps you want to launch a series of processes both related (like a credit check) and unrelated (generating a marketing solicitation for another service or product) as part of a larger customer process strategy. If the form drives an internal process, such as an account payable process, then perhaps you want it to launch an ancillary purchase or billing process. e point is no matter how few or many applications you have in your inventory that look like workflow or process management, don’t lose sight of a larger process-aware infrastructure strategy that can and should be achieved. JIM MINIHAN [], a pioneer of workflow and process management, is an acknowledged expert on automation of service sector enterprises and their processes. AN DOCUMENT dec.08 8

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of DOCUMENT Magazine - December 2008

DOCUMENT Magazine - December 2008
Ad Index
Editor’s View
BPM: Improving the Way You Process
Research Desk
The Compliance Shadow
Catching Web Fever
Charting a New Course
Reading the New Signal of Data
The Customer Finish
The Converging Money Trail
Fight Disaster
Putting on a Global Face
New Products

DOCUMENT Magazine - December 2008