By: Shawna Laird, Business Manager
What’s the holdup?
Ever hear this question in your office or from your staff? Sometimes it is difficult to find the exact reason why a request or invoice hasn’t been approved. Each day you and your staff work through hundreds of workflow processes and may not even know it. What steps does a part order have to go through before it makes it onto the vehicle? How many people or departments “touch” a new vehicle requisition?
For those of you that just nodded your head or rolled your eyes because this happens to you every day, there is hope! There are systems available now that can help monitor your processes and help you and your staff become more efficient. These systems are used in companies around the world and even our military uses a similar process mapping system to approve and fund soldiers or sailors deployment orders.
Workflow systems have the potential to organize all your systems, overlaying them, and making your office operations as transparent and measurable as your shop floor. In its current form, these systems map and monitor critical processes. For example, a workflow might begin when a potential technician submits his application for employment. The process of interviewing and finally hiring the technician may involve supervisors, administration, human resources, safety, etc. Workflow systems monitor each step of the process and can remind those involved of actions they may need to take.
Future workflow applications may have a profound impact on your management systems as well. One example is application integration. How much money did you have to budget for linking two or more computer applications (fleet management, fuel management, accounting, etc)? Workflow systems, if implemented properly, can access all databases with a minimal amount custom programming. Workflow systems can “reach” into an application and display documents and/or data that pertain to that step of the process. Users can open, edit, and save the documents (in their original format) they access through the workflow system while monitoring the steps in each process. This allows for transparency and can point out bottlenecks in the process. Both the individual and management can see how the process or even the department is functioning overall.
To properly implement the system, you must map each process, from beginning to end. You can do this yourself or hire consultants that can map your current processes. Process mapping consists of how and where a particular process begins and each subsequent and necessary step. It must also consider possible complications and resolutions. For example, a driver reports an accident. This process would begin with the driver and would involve safety, fleet supervisors, administration, fleet manager, human resources, and the list could go on. Workflow systems can allow each person in the process to work electronically and access all documents related to the accident. Management or the user department can monitor the process of the claim and repair electronically. No more “where is…” phone calls.
Workflow systems can be adapted and updated as the process improves and changes. As existing technology becomes outdated or you bring new systems online, workflow systems can continue to work with minimal effort. These systems can help you answer the questions: “ what are we doing and how efficiently are we doing it?”
The FleetPros Blog is written and moderated by the Business Manager with contributions from the membership and Business Services Team.