automated-workflowEnterprise task management and automated workflows are now available to both small and medium-sized companies. The emergence of Low Code Business Process Management, or Lean BPM solutions means you can get a lot of the functionality of traditional BPM solutions, such as IBM’s BPM or Pega Systems BPM 7, but for around 20% of the cost and no need for an IT or dev specialist.

Common features will include the following, but this is not an exhaustive list, we’re just touching on the major ones:

Housed On Premises or Cloud/SaaS Model
Almost all solutions will provide an On Premises version of their solution, while most will also offer some form of SaaS version, but look at the offering very closely (not all Lean BPM software is fully deployable to the Cloud).

Which one you will deploy will be determined by your risk profile and need for data security, though cost can feature heavily too.

Enterprise Task Management
There are a lot of task management applications on the market, especially online-based such as ZoHo and Basecamp. These tend to be very restrictive in how you manage tasks, and when you start looking at creating workflows, you are quickly forced to change how you do business to suit the solution, rather than the solution being adapted to suit how you work.

Automated Workflows
Lean BPM software will offer automated workflows, but again you must ensure that the solution does not fit you into a strait jacket. Good low code BPM solutions will let you design and execute workflows, typically with a drag-and-drop GUI, and then allow you to change them even when they become operational.

Audit Trails and Compliance Logs
In the heavily litigious and regulated business environment we work with today, it pays to have an audit trail of just who did what, when and what happened next. More than this, the record cannot be tampered with, so you have a highly credible and accurate record to protect you in the midst of a dispute or investigation.

Even better, a good solution will allow you to automatically enforce company procedures and regulations through the task management and automated workflow functionality. So for instance, a product cannot be shipped unless it has been checked by Quality Assurance, or a file cannot be closed unless it receives a supervisors review and sign-off.

Granular Reporting and Analytics
Workflows and task managers allow you to gain visibility into how your business operates in real-life. Once you can see something, you can start measuring it, and when you do that, you can also start improving the process.

You should be able to enjoy a comprehensive reporting toolset, which will include notifications and escalations when tasks are coming due, or even late, or what bottlenecks are being created in the operation, or even resource utilization and load balancing.

Team Collaboration
By allowing all tasks and workflows to be centralized, including artifacts used in the process, such as documents and images, you now have one place for all things associated with the work you carry out. This means staff can immediately see who is doing what, on what job, how soon it comes due and is available for the next step in the process. As managers, you are able to see team performance as a whole, but also who the real performers are in your team, and who has spare work capacity or is overloaded.

Jane Wrythe writes extensively on business and technology issues, and she is currently focused on Lean BPM solutions such as JobTraQ.