Compliance can be one of the most difficult and resource-consuming tasks in regards to requirements placed on a business from external sources. How does that become manageable in a cost-effective and ingenious way? Business process management.
BPM traditionally is the back‑end data interface. There's no clear definition of what is an extension of what used to be traditional workflow, where workflow interacts with your people. Business process management software traditionally interacts with your data.
You can't divide them up like that. People interact with the data and the content, and they're involved in your process. Those interactions are typically the trigger points for the exchange of information or the update of information or the moving on of statuses of things going through to your system.
Compliance involves people following standard operating procedures, and maintaining the appropriate records to stay in compliance. Immediately, content management solutions go a long way to help with compliance in general.
If I tie that into the process of how those documents and how that data and information goes through those touch points, meaning who's doing the work? When is the work being done? What did they do? Did they do it according to the policies and procedures that need to be enforced? That's automating the compliance process.
Most of the time, people view compliance as a very difficult thing. It's costly to implement, it's extra steps, extra cost. If you automate it through a total process automation solution, you're actually delivering work to people according to those business rules, and you're preventing them from being out of compliance.
Literally, the system forces you to do things the right way. Because it's tracking the documents and the data at the same time, you get compliance out of it by default.
So who is buying business process management software?
Buyers are anybody and everybody that's facing an issue associated with managing their documents or their processes. We have sold to some of the smallest companies including...I'll say single proprietors, legal firms, a small wholesale mulch company that sells mulch materials, all the way up to the enterprise banking users, hospitals, insurance companies, manufacturers, state and local government, education system.
It's typically driven by one of two things, actually probably three things. How much transactional activity is taking place and how big a burden is that? Do I want to make that transactional activity more efficient?
We find that we work well in growing companies that have a high transactional work load. That could be anything from admitting a lot of patients, collecting a lot of bills,
processing a lot of claims, dealing with a lot of student, but they have a lot of transactions.
The other side of that coin can be complementary or just another burden put on it, which is the number of touch points required to get something done.
If it's a complex process, if it requires a lot of intervention and a lot of reviewing and lot of approval, it may not be a lot of transactions.
A single transaction, something like a mortgage has over a hundred plus documents that start and create a hundred plus processes for review, touch points and activities that have to be done in strict compliance with some sort of guideline process, laws, regulations and such. So those are the two big areas that we see those things happening.
The third is what I'll call just pure automation terms, you've got basic gaps inside of your existing solutions and you need to bridge those gaps. A common example that I'll sight there would be for an organization that doesn't normally deal with a lot of time and attendance of software and issues and such.
Then an accounting system, I've got a single field called "Vacation Time." Every time payroll comes around, I have to fill that out with either a zero or some numbers of hours because an employee took vacation.
My core system, it's real easy, it's just a data field I have to fill out. The gap in the organization exist that how does that information get there. It starts with a request by the employee, "Can I take the time off?" Then his manager has to approve it. It gets thrown in a stack of papers with the accountant need to keep checking on those at every payroll. Do I enter that yet?
He can't enter it because he has got to check with the person to see if he actually took the vacation or not because he put the request in three months ahead of time.
That's an awful lot of work and activity that has to take place to enter the number eight for a day's worth of vacation. What tracks that?
That's the area that we specialize in. Really, I think the industry as a whole is starting to understand that the interactions and controlling the process, and really creating an agile business process that can accommodate monitoring and proactively moving this information through an organization is where business process management is going.