End-to-end workflow automation is a powerful tool that can streamline and optimize business processes. However, some processes may not automatically be completed as expected, which can cause frustration and confusion for all users. In a recent ANB Systems User Forum, the question was asked, “What steps can we take to have a higher percentage of our workflows complete without human interaction?” In this user’s case, approximately twenty percent of program submittals go through to completion without any manual interventions. As was discussed in this article, “no-touch processing”, allows for a truly automated workflow process and can reduce time spent on a project from days to minutes.
Usually, there are clues as to why submittals do not automatically complete. A reason may be that processes have dependencies or conditions that are not met. For example, if a process involves sending an email to a customer, the workflow automation system may not be able to send it until the customer has opened a previous email or clicked on a link. This may be the root cause of why processes are not self-completing at a higher rate; users do not understand what information is required in the workflow and/or the needed steps along in the overall process. An examination of projects that fail to automatically complete may identify specific issues that cause workflows to stop. For instance, a one-line diagram that was submitted may not be legible or may be missing the required information. Getting feedback from the actual users may give insights as to why the necessary information was not submitted. Several potential solutions come to mind. First, additional user training may be necessary, or in the alternative, additional functionality built into the system to guide the user through the submittal in a foolproof step-by-step process. Another step may be to create standard submittal templates that users must incorporate. In deciding which approach to take, an analysis should look at the users whose submittals fail to complete. Are they occasional users or are they frequent users who simply do not take care when submitting projects?
To prevent or solve these issues, it is important to design and test workflow automation processes frequently. The processes should be monitored regularly, including the use of alerts and notifications to keep track of their status and performance. To keep automation solutions up to date, consider implementing a continuous improvement cycle that measures and analyzes the performance and impact of automation, identifies and prioritizes the areas for improvement or innovation, implements and tests the changes or enhancements, and finally, evaluates and validates the results or outcomes. Various methods and tools can be used to review and improve automation solutions, such as feedback sessions or reports. The goal is to keep your automation solutions up-to-date and optimized for your business needs and goals. A significant benefit of eTRACK+ is that it is a business process management solution that can be easily updated and adapted to accommodate new requirements or simplify the exchange of data between users.
Written by – Michael Stockard
Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 40 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.