Workflow Automation Software

Millennia Group Blog

Don’t be Frightened, Be Practical

via Flickr, Allen WatkinsThere is no denying that many businesses absolutely need automation in order to get to that next level of efficiency.  Unfortunately, large companies with large budgets drove the development of most automation solutions and therefore, those solutions are very complex.

This legacy complexity creates an actual and perceived barrier to implementation.  Small to medium businesses (“SMB”) don’t have the training and support resources, nor the cash runway to implement and achieve the promised benefits from automation.  But SMBs, don’t be deterred, there are automation solutions that will fit your budget, workforce and customer needs.

The poster child of complex solutions for efficiency gains is an enterprise resource planning system or ERP.  Software solutions have a tendency to be built to do everything, but as we all know, that can lead to an application that does nothing well.  Many…

Czar needed, must be friendly

via Flickr - Boston Public libraryIf it’s a common refrain in your company that nobody can find anything on the file server or in the document management system, you are not alone.  In many cases a company believes this is because they have a digital document organization problem or possibly the lack of a document czar. 

Just because a company is not staffed entirely with former librarians doesn’t mean that a lack of organization is the only problem.  There may be other factors at play, like for instance, rapid growth or a string of acquisitions.  However, what’s really missing might be a document collection strategy.

Documents come into the organization in many ways – documents created internally, email, downloads, thumb drives and there is still paper.  Your document management solution needs to have multiple ways to collect or ingest documents…

We are all different

via Flickr - TorleyIt’s no surprise that no two businesses are exactly alike and certainly no two employees are either.  Our differences, along with the options provided by technology and changing circumstances, create a tremendous number of possible outcomes as it relates to information creation.  This is especially true of information in the form of documents.

Every day in every business, employees are creating documents, searching for documents, receiving new documents and sharing documents with others.  It’s imperative that the information makes sense, otherwise errors are made and time is wasted.  But since we are all different, don’t be surprised at how someone else defines what a document is and in what form it’s delivered. 

Document management systems (“DMS”) have to be about more than just finding documents, they have to be tools to help…

It’s not so simple

via Flickr by John McSporran At some point every business probably feels a bit undervalued or unappreciated by customers or maybe by the markets.  This may or may not be justified, but we’ve all been there.  Over the years we have gained a deep understanding and appreciation for one group of businesses in particular that might feel this way – manufacturers. 

There is tremendous complexity in the manufacturing business model of sourcing parts, labor and materials, making something out of that and then selling and servicing that product.  Then there are also government regulations and customer compliance requirements to factor in.  There are highly complex software applications that help keep the cost of that seemingly simple widget at $2.00.  It’s really not so simple.

It starts with design, which generates drawings and a parts list.  Bids for the parts…

Do you have a complete picture?

via Flickr by CatchpennyIt happens every day in our professional lives, we need information to make decisions or to complete tasks.  To assist us in this effort we try to use our memory, the internet and information stored away in filing cabinets, desk drawers and computers.

Sometimes decisions or tasks are completed quickly from a single source of information.  For instance, “was customer order 12345 invoiced?” – you can easily look it up in “the system”.  This becomes more complex if the question simply expands to “and was it correct?”.  Just like that you need much more information to come to the correct decision.  It would be nice if there was only one place to get the complete picture.

The task of confirming the invoice can be a challenge.  A manufacturing business or a service business will likely mean…

In documents we trust, data not so much

via Flickr, by Alejandro MalleaSome day in the future it is plausible that paper documents in the business world will disappear.  Electronic documents, however, in the form of PDF’s, Word files or Excel spreadsheets, will continue to exist.  In fact, it will be a very long time before documents, and the content of the documents, cease to be important in the business world. 

Technology has enabled simple processes or transactions to occur entirely with online forms and direct data entry.  But there are still many instances where the content in a complex document becomes the data for accounting or ERP systems or documents.  It is easy to see what was keyed in, but In Documents we trust.

Some business processes are being converted to an entirely form based process where the concept of a document doesn’t pertain.  Take for example…

Artificial Intelligence – Getting to Know You

via Flickr - Gustavo da Cunha PimentaHow will artificial intelligence (“AI”) impact our world?  There are knowledgeable people talking up the potential positive uses of AI and there are knowledgeable people voicing concern over the potential problems.  On the positive side are articles generally oriented towards business efficiency gains, of which IBM’s Watson is a widely seen example. 

Many companies are looking for a better way to help manage the explosive growth files and documents and they are hoping that AI and Watson can benefit them.  The rate of growth is exponential and that is creating increased user search times and poor results accuracy – inefficient.  AI might help users find the information that they are looking for, but Watson is going to have to get to know each user and know each user very well first.

Finding the right…

Folders and paperclips, the original workflow tools

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…

Why is the mustard in the fruit drawer?

Via Celeste Lindell at FlickrHave you ever found a jar of mustard in the fruit drawer of your refrigerator?  How about the Penske file in the folder labeled Clients D-E?  Let’s face it, there are those of us that are very organized and there are others that aren’t.  This could be at home or at the office and it can be both frustrating and in the case of the office, costly. 

We were recently asked if there is an optimal company size that dictates when it’s time to use an electronic document management system (EDMS) rather than a file storage solution like a network drive?  I would say as soon as you find the mustard in the fruit drawer, it’s time.  However, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration when considering the need for an EDMS…

Technology goggles make work flow

via Flickr - Chief RangerThe first thing that comes to mind when you hear about workflow is most likely order and process.  There is validity in that thought.  Workflow is intended to deliver efficiency and cost saving by using defined order and automated process. 

Defining what the process should be is the tricky but necessary part and it’s the fun part.  Yes, fun.  When you dig in and people realize how many time wasting tasks can be eliminated, you can feel the joy.  So how do you re-connect the dots to create an effective digital workflow and really make work flow?  Put on your technology goggles and look at the process.

The first step is to have the people involved in the process document how the process works.  This will initially result in a small number of simple steps.  The…