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Folders and paperclips, the original workflow tools

Friday, July 28, 2017

via Flickr by Michael CoryI don’t think I would like to be in the folder, inter-office envelope, paper clip or staple businesses.  They had a great run.  They served a very good purpose.  But it’s time to move on to new forms of workflow.  Yes, that’s right, paper clips, folders and envelopes were the first workflow tools.

Paper clips and staples separated documents into relevant parts.  Folders and envelopes kept the collection of information together as it moved through the company for decision making purposes.  Plenty of business decisions still rely on a collection of data and documents.  So where have all the folders and paper clips gone? To digital workflow packages, which are the new tools for business process.

Some business processes can be very simple and decisions can easily be made with limited information.  For instance, maybe it’s a help desk situation and a user entered information into a form that indicated they needed help re-setting their password.  The help desk worker (workflow participant) receives that notice, reads the information on the form and sends a response.  Decision made, workflow complete.

There are many business processes that require far more information to permit a participant to make a decision.  Calculations might be necessary and result in the creation of a spreadsheet.  Historical documents may need to be reviewed.  Other live data may need to be considered.  This is not so simple. The good news is that current tools can accomplish all that the folders and paper clips did, and much more to ensure better AND faster decisions. 

Document management based workflow systems can create or assemble collections of documents, both new and historical and also display data, all in one decision making package.  This lowers the friction for a user to access the necessary information to make the most informed decision possible.  And with the benefit of database logic that can be included, the right information gets to the right people at the right time.  For instance, the package doesn’t hit the VP’s desk unless the project exceeds $500,000.

It’s not to say that the inter-office envelope didn’t contain good information.  But let’s face it, it wasn’t always sufficient to hold everything so maybe a few pages or documents were left out.  The envelope couldn’t carry real time information or electronic data.  And only one person ever knew where that envelope was.  If there are complex processes in your company that are reliant on a folder or envelope of information, look into a document management centric workflow tool.  You won’t miss the office supplies and you will really appreciate better, more timely decisions.

Millennia Group has been providing workflow and document management solutions since 1996.  www.mgdocs.com, (630) 279-0577, info@mgdocs.com