Business Process and Workflow: A Sign of Organizational Maturity

In SharePoint, the sign of a mature deployment is its usage with business process, business intelligence, and ultimately, true adoption by the business for real applications. Most SharePoint deployments start with SharePoint as a file sharing and collaboration platform. Team sites, workspaces and so on are often where SharePoint begins in an organization, and that’s often where organic growth takes off and the foundation of where SharePoint begins to cement itself in an organization.

Beyond collaboration, where departments often begin, governance brings structure and with it brings portals, applications and line-of-business integration. In simple document sharing, workflow is human and document approvals are likely as far as many feel they need to go. As structured document management becomes important or as documents become records and the number and complexity increase, disposition, document sets and document ids force the document managers to look into more complex workflows. As well, one doesn’t have to look far into common business forms, often which begin as paper or electronic .pdfs, to see the value and moving these from paper forms to electronic forms with full automation. Many existing electronic forms lack form validation or integration with lines of business for validating such things as customers, partners, products, and much more. The value in what you get out of a third party product is the branching, looping, and ease of building the forms and the rich business integration and control in a more simple UI or in making development simplified or much, much easier.

Organizations which look to eliminate paper forms or to reduce the forms make it better for partners and customers, cutting down time and waste. Every time I go to the doctor they ask me for my name, phone number, address, birthday, social security, insurance, and so much more. They already have all that, why are they asking it on every form. Likely, they do this to validate that I’m the same guy, but this is extremely inefficient and results in lots of mistakes, misspellings, duplication and data entry. There’s value in moving your business processes to SharePoint and for many of the same reasons you’d invest in enhancing this process with a third party tool, which is designed for simplification and richer integration.

Organizations encouraging departmental adoption using document flow and building organizational portals will benefit in big ways by consolidating and moving business processes. Building business applications and processes increases adoption with breeding success. Further success does come by adoption of workflows and forms. Building these from scratch is often unnecessary work when nearly a dozen have already done work to simplify this.

Unbiased blog post written by Joel Oleson and sponsored by WEBCON.

If you feel your organization is mature enough to adopt complex solution based on SharePoint to automate business processes, workflows, and document management, you may find the WEBCON Business Process particularly useful. It’s built on SharePoint (starting with Foundation) and offers its user-friendly interface; however, in order to provide greater efficiency, the system uses its own, powerful workflow engine and also SQL database(s) instead of standard SharePoint lists. That ensures capability of handling thousands of end-users and millions of documents.

Although one of the biggest added values that this system provides is its simplicity and flexibility. It does not require highly qualified IT experts to create new workflows (crafted to company’s specific needs), and most importantly, it allows change to existing workflows "on-the-fly," even if they are currently running. Considering all that, you can achieve exceptional time-to-market in terms of creating new processes and also in terms of change management.

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