Workflow is like a journey you might take from one end of a city to the other.
Imagine navigating your way through town if the traffic lights were all out, the roads were full of sink holes, and the signs had been vandalised. And to top it off, you’ve left your phone and to-do list at home and can’t remember the address you’re going to or the things you need to buy.
This scenario describes business life without automated workflow.
It is an imperfect illustration, but we are confident that if you approach workflow properly, you will clear a path through the clutter and confusion created by manually trying to control business procedures, and facilitate a smooth journey from start to finish.
No workflow solution or a poor workflow tool?
Without automated workflow, you can expect process delays, human errors and frustrated clients, which all have a negative financial impact.
Furthermore, you will have no reliable way to track and record actions, which will affect your audit trail and compliance obligations.
Besides, being tied to paper documents and spreadsheets creates a silo structure where systems are not well integrated.
Equally exasperating is using a sub-standard workflow tool. A good tool will allow you to configure your workflow to exactly the way your processes work, and it will allow a trained user to modify and create workflows as needed.
The Nimblex workflow philosophy
Low-code, customisable eForms
Nimblex is highly flexible and able to adapt to whatever procedures and process steps you need to have. We achieve this through the low-code, drag-and-drop configuration of eForms which makes the whole construction fast and cost-effective, and any eForm can participate in workflow.
We do not take a “one size fits all” approach but rather offer a bouquet of features that are employed where needed, in a mix-and-match way.
The basic workflow fields are usually: Assignee, Status, Priority and Date Due, with other elements, for example:
• Task Assignment and Ownership
• Follow up / Reminders
• Record keeping
• Spawning dependent processes
• Approval … and more…
Start with analysing and mapping
The first step is planning so you can see where you are and where you where you would like to be.
We advise our clients to start off by gathering all the key stakeholders together and thoroughly going through their organisations processes, bearing in mind communication, notifications, business rules and compliance obligations.
(A Discovery Workshop can help work out the scope of a project: Why you need a Discovery Session & Requirements Workshop?)
Evaluate each task to see if it can be fully automated, or if human decision-making is needed to trigger the next step.
There are a number of standardised modelling languages for representing these maps. The two most commonly seen by our eBMS staff are the Activity Diagram and the BPMN Diagram.
Once this map has been drawn, we can start piecing together how best to represent the workflow in software.
The types of workflow that Nimblex uses
There are different types of workflow depending on the need at hand.
Sequential workflow: This is a simple progression from one step to the other where a step is dependent on the previous step in a logical flow.
Parallel workflow: This is where two or more steps can be happening simultaneously. Nimblex aims to deliver workflows that best represents each individual organisation’s requirements, so we have a number of different approaches to deal with the different set-ups.
Dynamic Automated Workflow
This type of workflow uses triggers that automatically move the process through the various stages using behaviour rules, notifications, data points, etc. These are all built using our eForms. The result is your input forms automatically move from one stage to the next as you progress through your process in a methodical way.
A simple example of this would be changing the status of a record based on a due date. A more complex example could be updating the status of a form by tracking the completion of data within a form.
Dynamic Manual Workflow
The difference here is a user needs to manually change the workflow settings within the form after completing a certain task. This is typically where the user needs to make an informed choice before moving on.
These are commonly used in complex process where the value is in being able to accommodate for many edge cases. This allows us to work to that best practice of systemising the routine and humanizing the exceptions.
Smart Buttons and Email Alerts
The third way of doing workflow within Nimblex is through Smart Buttons. Various activity rules can be configured to the backend of a button, so when the user is finished entering data and is ready to move the record to the next phase, they will simple click the button which will trigger actions, notifications or solution behaviors.
One often seen use of this feature is in the approval of workflow steps, where clicking the appropriate “approve” or “decline” button will progress the workflow on the related form.
Real life is never as simple as the textbook. Working with many different clients, this is something that we understand well. The final way we manage workflow is to use a combination of the above options to generate and create unique steps within the process flow.
What is in the Nimblex workflow chest?
Automated Business Rules
According to your predefined business rules, automated activities can be triggered through the scheduler or at the push of a button.
When using buttons, we turn workflow decisions into straightforward questions for users, so once they have made their decision, the form will be routed to the next step.
Track and Manage the Whole Lifecycle
To allow users and managers to stay on top of their tasks, we use simple traffic colour coded lists. For example, tasks that are coming up in two weeks are yellow, one week are orange, overdue are red.
Trace Every Action - Compliance and Obligation Management with a Secure Audit Trail
Every action performed in the system is recorded and can be accessed for audit purposes, including emails that are linked to the solution. Business rules are encoded into the workflow which ensures compliance obligations are met.
The versatile task scheduler allows you to set up rules to govern the record flow, which is useful when an action has not been taken and a red flag needs to be raised and automated communication sent to the relevant person.
Approvals and Sign-offs
To help provide a secure audit trail, there needs to be built-in approval functions that can be logged, managed and traced. To this end, the Nimblex Platform uses electronic date stamp signatures, and a user’s authority to click an approval button is subject to their security level.
Data Security and User Permissions
User permissions can be assigned at granular and user group levels within the workflow. This controls who can see what and what they are allowed to do, which is a valuable feature when it comes to compliance, tracking and a defence against corruption.
To make your system even more flexible and user friendly, we can train members of your own organization to become designated Configuration Users. This allows them to use the Configuration Tool to alter and create forms, workflows, notifications dashboards, etc. so there is no need to get the “professionals” in to make these changes.
We are great believers in an integrated approach, and to the benefit of our clients, all our solutions work together seamlessly, from Procurement, Contract and Project Management to Safety Management and Quality Assurance, with the sharing of business rules, workflow rules and user group permissions.
Moreover, Nimblex is able to integrate with a range of other solutions, such as your finance system, to eliminate the trouble caused by platform silos. [Read more about the Nimblex Integration Capabilities.]
What is the point of having a database full of information if you cannot sort it into logical representations that unlock business trends and empower decisions? Reports, charts, graphs and dashboards are powerful tools in the hands of users and managers.
We provide all these tools in our commanding Report Creator that draws on real-time data, is protected by user rights and can be exported and shared to all the right people.
All in all, automated workflow is one of the super tools that have emerged from a digitised business world and is a key component in the move towards digital transformation.
By Jeannie De Vynck with contributions by Ben Sullivan
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