When was the last time you had that feeling that things were getting a little too crazy? At the pace business runs today, it can get a little overwhelming to keep up with all the deadlines, priorities, details, and next steps. So often it seems too hard to break out of the mold and go faster and yet, going faster is what we need to do to grow and succeed.
We often rely on good people to keep things moving and to keep track of the details, but often find we are a bit too dependent when that good person leaves. To avoid overdependence, we create detailed processes. These processes help create consistency and improve things, but often these processes are still difficult to manage and keep on track.
While good people and proven processes are essential, I am convinced that many organizations are missing something that makes good people and proven processes even better. That missing piece is maybe a little bit surprisingly, the right technology. Often we have a piece of software that runs some of our business, does our accounting, schedules, does CRM, and maybe even more. And yet, there is still a gap that is evidenced by too many loose ends that need to be manually tracked and handled.
The interesting thing is that there is a technology solution that helps with all this tracking and automating, but it is often overlooked. Our techy name for this solution is ECM, BPM or integrative middleware. Here are just a few things that can be automated with this software:
- Send letters or emails – Need to email a reminder to a customer at a certain stage of an order? This software can automate the build of a letter or email with customer specific data, send it at the right time, and even mark it for follow up.
- Schedule things – How much time do we spend scheduling things and confirming them? ECM/BPM software will create tasks and calendar invites automatically based on certain criteria or steps in your process.
- Meet deadlines – If you think about it, we spend a lot of time tracking deadlines. These deadlines might be externally imposed or an internal requirement to be ready for the next stage. This solution can track deadlines and remind by email, by queueing tasks, and even escalate to a manager or another team member if uncompleted.
- Gather approvals – Often we need someone to approve to move things to the next step. This software solution can allow for automatic approvals from even a cell phone or tablet.
- Reminders – How much time do we spend trying to remember? How many ToDo lists, task lists, and pop-ups do we maintain? What triggers that next thing? Reminders should be automated and can be with ECM/BPM.
- Transparency – Ever find yourself stuck because you don’t know at what stage a project or task or order is? An electronic workflow provides transparency and insight into where an item is in the process in real-time. It also provides analytics to know where the bottleneck is and maybe even who is not keeping up!
- Update a spreadsheet – Need to collect account coding for invoices and upload to your payables system? Need to track orders that are stalled? Need to read from a spreadsheet and file things accordingly? This capacity is all offered by an ECM solution. Pass information between systems – This is just what the “integrative middleware” part of ECM/BPM does. It can request information from somebody or some software and update another system with the results.
- Automatically file – How much time exactly do you spend filing paper in cabinets, or electronic documents in folders? Do you build out a folder structure? What happens when someone accidently drags it somewhere. With an ECM solution, you can auto-file based on simple criteria and have the system build the folders.
- Get input – Need to survey your team or create a better process for requesting time off? An automated ECM/BPM solution will use its webforms capability to capture input from users and process that input through a workflow and even get approvals.
- Alert someone of a problem – Sometimes we don’t see the problem coming, but through tracking and analytics, software can. ECM/BPM can “notice” when things don’t fit the normal pattern and alert someone to review.
- Ditch paper – We are all used to paper, but paper is inefficient, and the younger workforce is an electronic generation. ECM/BPM will help you become less dependent on paper and reduce the overhead associated with managing it.
In a world where everyone is on their mobile device, and everyone wants information right now, moving to an automated digital platform is essential. You may have looked at (DM) document management or (ECM) enterprise content management or (BPM) business process management in the past, but this technology has dramatically evolved and is worth another look. We help companies automate with ECM/BPM solutions. For a free workflow review, contact us today!