Human Glue – Accelerate Collaborative Processes

Posted August 31, 2015

By Richard Frykberg

Sally from Accounts Payable scans the consulting invoice. Paul checks the original contract, reviews the project timesheets and contacts the supplier for clarification of charges. John completes a purchase requisition form, prints it and attaches the supporting documents. The supplier, contacts Mary from Accounts Payable to enquire about the delayed settlement of the invoice. She checks the system and notes that the requisition hasn’t been approved…

This is a very real example of Human Glue. A process still strung together by people. Expensive people. A process inherently subject to delay, mistake and non-compliance.

In reality, for most organisations, process automation is still in its infancy. Unlike engineering-style processes for Raw Material procurement, Production or Distribution, which are easier to automate with MRP systems like SAP. But for more complex, collaborative processes. Like bringing on new strategic suppliers, ranging new product lines, coordinating innovation processes, prioritising capital investments and other non-stock procurement, and negotiating key staffing appoints.

These collaborative processes are:

  • Valuable. It is these strategic, collaborative initiatives that move the organisation – faster and to a better place, to seize opportunities and escape risk.
  • Unpredictable. Strategic collaborative processes are unique to an organisation, and indeed define its character. These process rely on the aptitude and experience of management to make the right calls that are seldom formulaic, but rely on both application of intellect and instinct.
  • Time critical. Great opportunities do not wait – whether it is a project, partner, or potential employee, timely decision making is of the essence to an optimal outcome.
  • Distributed. The process outcome necessarily relies on valuable human input from different perspectives – these participants include internal employees, mobile workers and external business partners.
  • Ad-hoc. The volume and complexity of items varies, and requires intuitive input as participants are not engaged on a continuous basis.

To accelerate collaborative process outcomes requires replacing sticky manual steps with an automated platform that must be:

  • Universally Accessible. Participants need to be able to provide input quickly, easily, everywhere.
  • Flexible. Participants need to be able to input tailored scenario-specific structured, and unstructured, data.
  • Collaborative. Workflow automation must support dynamic, iterative and parallel processing flows based on both automated business rules and human redirection.
  • Actionable. Participants need to be provided with context-specific supporting information to take fast action.

In our experience, the key components of an effective collaboration platform are

  • Apps – both web and native apps that offer a clear and distinct solution to the particular process challenge
  • Workflow – Business Process Management (BPM) automation to ensure that participants are effectively notified and tasked
  • Tasklists – effective mobile task approval access and actioning
  • Integration – to the back-end ERP application for input validation, business rule enforcement, role determination and ultimate transactional update
  • Analysis – process and outcome performance monitoring for continuous improvement.

Unfortunately, it isn’t practical to do everything in one system. A compilation of legacy and best-of-breed transactional and workflow systems is inevitable. But it is mainly Executives who participate in multiple processes, and whose timely response is most essential to timely execution. Therefore it is essential to ensure that at least the executives are provided with a consistent user-experience if they are able to provide meaningful and timely input. OneList Approvals provides this capability. A human-centric front-end that spans multiple technology platforms. Allowing executives to take quicker, more informed decisions, more easily.

So eliminate human glue and accelerate collaborative process outcomes with user-friendly apps, automated workflow, system integration automation and analytics. And most importantly, eliminate process bottlenecks by providing key decision makers with a highly-accessible and complete decision support platform such as OneList Approvals.