The paper "Workflow Automation" is a great example of a report on business. This Business proposal is for automating the existing manual processes in a maintenance project of a software company. Workflow to put it simply is the process wherein work is done in discrete units and the workflow automation deals with the process of automating the pieces of work. The idea is to automate the discrete and disparate processes and centralize the same into a workflow management tool. This tool finds application wherever the process has to be automated with varying degrees of visibility and control to the levels of the management.
Typical examples of organizations that use this tool could be software companies that need their processes to be automated. This tool can be used by the developers to manage their workflow and the manager to have overall visibility on the work of the team. The following sections describe the existing processes and how they can be improved, features and benefits of the new system plus why the idea of building a system instead of using an off the shelf product makes good business sense, etc. Existing processes The current workflow is managed through a variety of processes, most of which are manual, discrete, and disparate.
The processes deal with the number of bugs to be fixed per developer and the SLA definition for each. The developer has to ensure that he maintains an excel sheet with the details of the bugs that he is fixing and the SLA dates that he is adhering to. The manager uses the collection of excel sheets to monitor the throughput of the developers and ensures SLA compliance.
This process takes at least 10% of the developer’ s time as well as a corresponding amount of time from the Manager. Further, there is no centralization of data, and visibility is limited for the manager’ s manager onwards with status reporting being done by the collation of data from the various sources. Improvement of existing processes The existing processes are manual and lack any centralization leading to oversight and other associated risks. Though we are not saying that centralization is the key to solve the problems, nonetheless, there has to be some kind of visibility over the work of the developers by the manager.
Further, client-specific throughput targets and SLA goals can be tracked using this automated system. A new idea? Though there are several workflow management systems available off-the-shelf, the processes for each project in an organization are unique and it requires considerable customization of the existing products. Of course, the automated system can be used for similar projects with slight customization, but, it needs to be stressed that these projects would be categorized as development, maintenance, or implementation.
It would be prudent for the organization to invest in an automated system developed either in-house or done with outside consultant help so that the system is specific to the needs of the organization. Further and one of the most important points here is that if the process involves adhering to SLA and ensuring compliance, these would be highly specific to each client that the organization caters to. This requires a detailed analysis of the process and the various SLA definitions so that they can be incorporated into the system. Description of the new automation system - The proposed system would have a user interface that is configurable for the different users based on their access rights and levels of use. - The user interface would be a typical client server-based one or a web-based one depending on the installation.
In either case, the dashboard would be similar in functionality. - The proposed system would take each of the disparate processes and automate them with end to end workflow management capabilities. - The system would be hosted on a database that is either MS SQL Server or Oracle.
In the case of a limited number of users, the database can be MS Access. The decision of which database to use would be dictated by the scalability of the system. - The architecture of the system can either be a typical client-server model or a web-based service model. Features of the automation system The following are some of the features of the proposed automation system Easy to use graphical user interface with user-friendly features and support Data collection made easy and “ slicing and dicing” of data makes for good visibility over the processes and their efficiency As outlined above, productivity measures can be tracked Dashboard functionality for developers as well as managers Task allocation pane for managers to allocate work to the developers Real-time status of deliverables due to each of the developers Reminders and alerts for pending tasks for the developers Reports on demand Benefits of using the new automation system The proposed automation system provides the following benefits to the users Reduction in the time taken by developers to update the status of their work and record time Ability to centralize data and use it for tracking and monitoring purposes Use the tracking and monitoring mechanism described above to have overall visibility and control over the processes SLA compliance can be tracked for each week and for each developer The goals and objectives set forth for individual developers as part of their appraisal process can be aligned with the automated system with regards their throughput and productivity targets Status reporting to senior management made easy by customizable reports and formats. End to end process automation that results in substantial cost savings Costs and un-intended consequences Automation of any process results in substantial cost savings to the organization. Similarly, any project-specific processes that are currently manual and if automated lead to a reduction in the resources time for the process leading to greater resource usage and improved productivity. Though the system would require some upfront costs to be borne by the organization, the benefits that accrue would justify the same and lead to a favorable cost-benefit ratio.
It is estimated that at least 10 – 25 % of the developer’ s time that otherwise was being spent on the manual process can be saved. Advantages to the Organization The organization gains a competitive advantage due to the inputs it receives from the automation system due to the availability of data to aid decision making.
As outlined above, the data available from the users of the system can be “ mined” to provide usage patterns, throughput numbers, SLA compliance, and productivity measures. All these can aid senior management in making decisions about resource usage, availability, and client and partner satisfaction. Further, the report on-demand feature with the provision for reports of all types and formats would serve as excellent presentation material. Conclusion The proposal lists down high-level features of the proposed system and lists out the features and the benefits for the same.
A decision on whether to commission the new system has to be taken by the concerned stakeholders after doing due diligence on the same.