Investing money and time in a workflow solution holds the promise of significant value. However, if you have not utilized a workflow software solution in the past, you may be asking yourself: What benefits should I expect to gain from a workflow solution, and how can I make the right investment and deliver ROI? To help you think about this, in this series of blogs we’ll discuss five things you should consider. Previously, we discussed increasing employee morale, enhancing customer experience and driving competitive advantage. Next up is reducing operational risk.
Operational risks can range from sending out the wrong product to sending money to thieves. We have seen it all while consulting with organizations that have faced sophisticated predators leveraging weaknesses in their processes or teams where the outcomes have been almost transferring tens of millions of dollars to bad actors in foreign countries.
Many organizations that consider workflow solutions forget to consider the importance of strong process controls, auditing capabilities, reporting, and how these things can significantly impact an organization’s ability to pass audits, achieve compliance certifications, and avoid running afoul of regulations.
Processes that may seem mundane become critical when something goes wrong and lives, fortunes or organizational reputations are on the line. When routine approvals are made, you must be able to prove who provided that approval. When actions are taken that mitigate risks, will they provide you with any legal protection if you cannot prove they were taken? All these things become paramount when the auditors arrive, or when something has gone wrong. That is the wrong time to consider them. When you evaluate a workflow solution you should assure that the workflow software you select has the inherent ability not only to route work for approvals but to clearly record who made those approvals, who got the work done, when they got it done, what artifacts they reviewed or provided, and whether or not they were done at all.
Workflow software can be a powerful device in the arsenal of an organization that wants to achieve high levels of recognition through compliance. Industry certifications such as ISO, SSAE, NIST, and others can help differentiate an organization. What is similar in all these efforts is the creation of policies to assure your organization is following best practices. However, to prove you are following these best practices you must have a paper trail. Refer to our earlier discussion on how employees do not enjoy doing work “about the work” and remember these things must be invisible to them, but sufficient to prove that work is being done according to your new best practices. The right workflow software should not only provide easily configured guardrails to assure that people are executing on work in ways that are compliant with your customized best practices, but should also easily produce substantial evidence necessary to prove to regulators, auditors, and concerned customers that your work is done right every time.
Your workflow solution should reduce operational risk by:
- Ensuring business continuity.
- Reducing risk of bad actors penetrating approval processes managed manually or within unsecure tools such as email.
- Capturing all data and required artifacts that prove compliance and ensure successful audits.
- Ensuring employees easily follow company policies and procedures.
- Providing standardized processes that promote high-quality results.
- Capturing and managing exceptions that occur. This ensures smooth handling of any activity that arises outside normal boundaries.
We’re just about done with this series! Last up will be “Empowering Stakeholder-Led Change (or creating your own Knights of the Round Table).”
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