One of the best ways to understand the benefits of e-workflow and to follow its best practices is to look at real-life examples. By investigating how other organizations and businesses have introduced or improved e-workflow, CIOs and CTOs can see the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches.
It is important to know that e-workflow best practices apply to every kind of company or organization using workflows — so, essentially, everyone! Our own e-workflow platforms work well for businesses, education, state and local governments, and other organizations. And we’ve picked examples that span private enterprise to publicly funded education.
When you read about these real-life examples, consider the ways their approaches worked, and what they indicated could have been improved. Ultimately, all benefited from e-workflow once it was put in place. But there are always lessons to be learned about planning and implementation.
Tri-College Consortium Libraries
Libraries are a great example of organizations in which workflow management is key. By redesigning workflow, as one research paper posits, reorganization and redesign of workflow can lower costs and increase quality of service. From sprawling consortiums to small-scale individual libraries, there are many processes that can be digitized.
Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges built an e-workflow to better handle their e-resources. The three libraries share electronic resources and were struggling to track license terms, particularly for interlibrary loan restrictions. The Tri-Colleges decided to build a central database, but that still left workflow lacking especially in terms of efficiency and communication.
The group found that “effective communication is critical” in setting the foundation for workflow success. E-workflow automated these critical communications rather than leaving it to inefficient and error-prone correspondence.
Denison University and Kenyon College Libraries
These libraries used e-workflow principles to merge their technical service operations. They first redesigned individual workflows, then combined them into one single shared e-workflow. They wanted to make better use of the technical services teams and their expertise to improve services and add new ones.
The working group found that collaborative leadership from key decision-makers, and complete support from superiors was vital. They also had to maintain regular, transparent, repetitive communication of the broader workflows instead of getting lost in individual tasks. Before the workflow redesign even began, they needed a thorough, well-reasoned proposal to get buy-in.
One area of weakness was the amount of time needed to create change, which was greater than expected. The group had to overcome that challenge along with reaching consensus, overcoming resistance to change, and letting go of ‘perfect’ on behalf of ‘good.’
Shoosmiths Law Firm
E-workflow is beneficial for many organizations, including businesses. Shoosmiths Law Firm is a good example of this. They have long adopted workflow automation but found it fragmented over more than a dozen separate technologies and solutions.
By choosing one key e-workflow provider, the firm was able to centralize document management, practice management, and financial systems. The result is time savings across all areas of business. Automating one process alone saves an estimated 60 minutes per case handler per day, or 800 hours a week total. They are better able to respond to their clients, while reducing software maintenance and licensing costs.
Higher Ed E-Workflow
Especially as distance education becomes the needed approach during COVID-19, postsecondary education facilities are quickly implementing e-workflows. In this Ed Tech article, the University of Nevada, Reno’s automated workflows take the spotlight. The vice provost for IT and CIO notes that a lot of the work in creating a successful project comes before implementing the e-workflow itself.
One potential area of weakness, depending on implementation, is security. It’s important for CIOs and CTOs to set up e-workflows to ensure only those with the appropriate authority are included in automated workflows. At UNR, for example, only those with department-specific permissions can deploy e-workflows and automation for their staff.
The overall goal of e-workflow for education is improving user experience, enhancing record keeping, and simplifying processes. As the article points out, paper-to-digital-to-paper transitions are inefficient, and e-workflows should avoid this conundrum. As always, automation should improve workflow and not be done just for the sake of digitizing.
Creating Your Own E-Workflow Success Story
At GroupLink, we offer cloud-based e-workflow and work from home solutions that benefit organizations of many kinds. Our solutions include GroupLink everything HelpDesk, SafestSchools and Workflow Process and Incident Tracking. With these platforms you can increase efficiency, collaboration, and accountability.
Connect with us online or call us at 801-335-0700. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Stay tuned for the next article in this eight-part series, e-Workflow Best Practices for CIOs & CTOs: Finger-Pointing vs. Accountability.