Below, there are some tips on the implementation of electronic document workflow. These are loose conclusions formulated on the basis of projects carried out by our colleagues in various companies.
1. Use a small steps technique
When asked the question “How to eat an elephant?”, the correct answer is “Bit by bit”. Documents are present in all processes: purchases, sales, production, logistics, accounting, etc. Some people think that the document workflow should be implemented comprehensively. The arguments are mainly economic: one IT system, one implementation contract, etc. We think that this is too risky. In the case of ERP systems, such a model is justified by a smaller number of users and strict interdependence of modules. When it comes to the ECM systems, there are definitely more users (even several times) and the dependencies between individual modules are smaller. Secondly, the users are not aware of the possibilities of new system and are expected to design new processes “at once”. They will be aware of it if they work in the system a little bit. Thirdly, the introduction of document workflow means very often a significant process reorganization. People have to get used to and accept new order. Introducing too many organizational changes at the same time will almost certainly affect the quality and atmosphere of work.
2. Less write, more draw
The complexity of processes, especially those complicated ones, requires showing them in the simplest way as possible. Diagrams help in such situations and it really does not matter if they are presented in a sophisticated BPMN or classic notation with pools and tracks. We have already seen many processes drawn up by professional analysts, which we did not understand. There were too many details and too much care for nomenclature and signs, but not enough … vision. Really, every diagram is to provide general knowledge, and additionally, a vision of how something should work “after changes”. The details can be implemented in many different ways and the user does not necessarily need to know them. It is also helpful for both the implementers and employees to draw the forms for adding individual documents.
3. Ensure a strong manager on the client’s side
With each implementation, we are more and more convinced that the final effect depends on the leader on the client’s side. It is crucial that it is a person who knows the company, knows what she or he wants, is not afraid to take responsibility, is consistent and demanding towards both the external companies and company’s employees. Ideally, if it is a company’s employee who sees opportunities for development and promotion in relation to the change being implemented.
4. Develop a security management strategy
Security is one of the most sensitive points of the document workflow system implementation. It contains a lot of information of the highest level of confidentiality. We should think not only about tools, but also about a comprehensive strategy to protect these data. For example, whether it is possible to use it outside the company’s network, integrate users with the company’s domain, what is the password change regime, who and how increases the users’ rights, who and how often audits permissions, or use additional intrusion detection and prevention tools, how we monitor the users’ activity (whether they behave in a standard way, etc.). A good strategy means that the system itself is guarded and thus is much safer than the classic forms of document exchange (e.g. by e-mail).
5. Take care of psychological and social factors
Sentences like “I think that changes are necessary”, “Let us change or die” are heard from many lips … at the beginning. When there is a time to introduce new order, when something has not worked yet perfectly, or just works differently, the truth comes out about what we are. We do not like changes. It is worth realizing it and put the defense strategy in such a scenario immediately. The “iceberg” model pretty well illustrates the problem of introducing changes. Its small peak can be seen above the water surface. The real threats are underneath: overt opponents, secretive opponents, interest groups, etc. You have to be able to convince them, calm them down and sometimes neutralize them. The best practice is to build project strength on supporters who enjoy authority in the company. The more such people the better. Intelligent project management involves sharing successes with them.
Authors: Archman team