The vast majority of business processes started out life on paper; even those which we now take for granted as being online or electronic. The card payment terminal in a shop is a classic example. Not so very long ago credit card payments were made using manual paper receipts which had to be re keyed into cash registers and sent off to the card payment companies for redemption. Now it’s a seamless and almost instantaneous process with the terminal linked to the till and the payments company.
The labour, time and cost savings are obvious and it needn’t stop there. By linking the till to stock control and ordering systems you can create a process which triggers new stock orders every time a certain number of units of a product have been sold.
And achieving this level of automation and optimisation doesn’t necessarily require the skills of a high level software programmer. Ergo’s business management tool, FlowForma, allows business analysts to design and build their own automated business processes without having to deal with any software coding issues.
“We designed FlowForma with the needs of the business analyst in mind,” says Ergo product manager Neil Young. “We wanted to put the power into their hands and allow them to them to design the processes they needed".
“FlowForma takes them through the process step by step asking them questions along the way and putting in place the necessary business rules. It also follows a lot of lean principles and takes the bottlenecks out of the system.”
FlowForma allows for the automation of form process by providing a flexible electronic data capture and control system that is easy for a user to configure to the exact needs of their organisation.“It extends the functionality of Microsoft SharePoint using the platform as the repository for all form definitions and completed form data,” Young explains. FlowForma has applications in almost every area of an organisation’s activities according to Young. “It can be used in finance, human resources, procurement, production – everywhere,” he says. “For example, in the HR function you can use it to automate the process for new joiners".
“There are certain things which must happen within a few weeks of a person joining an organisation. They have to be set up on payroll – there might be a pension scheme to join, health insurance, a social club, optional deductions from salary, and a variety of other things. With FlowForma you can automate all of those things into a single process and have instant visibility in terms of hold-ups and who may be holding things up. You can also use it for other areas of HR such as performance appraisals and so on.”
It can also be used for highly complex processes like tendering. “It can be used to automate and regulate the time-consuming task of tender process management. Another area where customers are using it is the acceleration of expense processing by automating the movement of a claim through the various approval and verification stages required by the organisation".
The product has been so successful that Ergo has recently begun exporting it to the UK market with backing from Enterprise Ireland. “We are working with a partner in the UK and recently signed up two NHS hospitals to use the product for their HR processes.”
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