Workflow for Outsourcing

Outsourcing Sign

There’s no question nowadays that the majority of work is being off-shored overseas, with the largest areas being customer service, bookkeeping and computer support.

Outsourcing is a strategic move that has become more common and favourable for many organisations, in order to cut costs and gain a competitive advantage. It provides the opportunity for organisations to utilise skills and expertise that were not available internally, without having to invest high amounts of money in recruitment or local expertise.

It provides important benefits of being able to outsource back end tasks such as data entry to overseas service providers to save money and resources, and then concentrate on core business activities.

Most organisations deal with a large volume of paperwork every day. With the increasing amount it can become difficult to manage, which often leads to errors and loss of information causing inconvenient delays and re-work. Especially in a large scale organisation this is an inefficient use of time, equipment and staff resources which can result in significant financial loss.

Workflow automation software can assist with this. It provides a structured, centralised system with data storage in the cloud, allowing you to effectively track business processes as they are completed and sent internally and to outsourced vendors.

Workflow software is ideal to assist with outsourcing work such as form processing. An example is a large scale insurance organisation that had implemented workflow software to replace their previous system.

Their previous arrangement involved handling insurance policies which were sent to various staff, brokers and other organisations through email and phone. The tasks involved staff making decisions, transferring documentation, communication and follow ups, all done through multiple communication channels making it difficult to monitor.

After implementing the workflow system, it allowed them to efficiently outsource back end tasks to service providers in Mumbai. The dozens of staff involved in processing the policies could then concentrate on other important issues, and the work was carried out by brokers in India to complete.

Main benefits of workflow for outsourcing:

  • Lower costs – compared to Australia, labour costs are typically less in countries such as Asia and India.
  • Better quality – access to the world’s skilled expertise at a lower cost. You don’t have to invest in finding, training and managing employees.
  • Free up resources – allows you to free up internal resources for core activities, to grow the business instead of wasting energy on back end operations.
  • Time difference – the difference in time means that work can be completed while your business is closed, keeping the productivity continuously flowing.
  • Risk reduction – having an offshore partner means in the event of disaster, recovering their backups means you haven’t lost everything, which will assist getting your business back on track.
  • On demand – temporary booms, seasonal or simply ad-hoc work, you can choose to employ more or less staff depending on your businesses situation.

Workflow for Compliance

compliance

Why comply?

Ask yourself this. How would you feel if an organisation that held your personal information was poorly secured and managed? What if a security breach meant that all of your private details, passwords, addresses and credit card details were leaked, and the company refused to be held responsible for the loss of personal and valuable information?

This is why compliance is critical in all businesses and we will explain how workflow can assist with managing compliance.

Compliance management is a critical component of the internal control process for any organisation. Whether it is compliance to meet internal corporate procedures or external regulatory requirements, effective compliance will aid the organisation to avoid criminal charges, build a positive reputation, higher productivity and generate a positive working environment.

Workflow for Compliance

The overall purpose of a workflow is to divide business processes into smaller steps which can be passed to different people within (or outside) the organisation. This usually involves creating a document, submitting to a reviewer, pass back for amendments and so on. These steps may repeat several times before the reviewer is satisfied to move on to the next stage.

Workflow software can ensure that all necessary steps are undertaken, enforce control processes and verification of information. Tracking and monitoring of processes and approval checkpoints ensure that steps and information are not overlooked, missing or incorrect.

Quality Checks

Quality Checking involves reviewing all of the factors in the workflow. The purpose is to review for completeness and accuracy.  It helps to identify and remove incorrect tasks early on; so that only the correct tasks are progressed and additional time is not wasted.

The reviewer will analyse the information to ensure that the details were completed correctly. The overall aim is to check that the provided information meets the set requirements.

Requests for information, send backs, and approvals with any comments or instructions can be communicated via alerts. The advantage is that each task can be immediately actioned when received and no time is wasted on follow ups.

Approvals

The Approver will inspect that all information is correct and complete before passing the information forward to the next process. Approvers can make decisions on whether to progress, request further information or reject altogether.

Workflow provides Approvers with the ability to request additional information, and approve or decline if it didn’t meet the requirements and provide reasons.

The Approver has the opportunity to evaluate the staff based on their experience and skills. From their analysis of the staff, they can then allocate the tasks to the most suitable individuals, which will ultimately increase the likelihood that the tasks will be carried out correctly.

Auditing

The audit log keeps record of all transactional events that occur within the system. An audit log can store all data entries including create, update and delete information.  It can store the timestamps of the transaction along with the user who performed the transaction.

These can be permanently stored so that every transaction captured can be reviewed at any time by the administrator. The logs can be used to trace the proof of origin, changes, inserts or deletions and who, when and how they were actioned.

 

Workflow follows a consistent approach by requiring frequent approvals after important tasks and at major checkpoints. Workflow can guarantee that new employees follow the procedure and don’t make costly mistakes.

It also ensures that employees cannot  cut corners, provide false or inaccurate information, or bypass procedures in the workflow.

Textiles, Clothing, and Footwear Small Business Program

If you’re in the Australian textiles, clothing, or footwear industries, you may be eligible for government funding for business process improvement and automation through the Small Business Program.  You can find out more about this program here.

If you’re looking for assistance to improve or automate business processes, Web and Flo may be able to help you, and you may be eligible for funding through the program to utilise our software and services.  To find out more about Kontinuum and The Celsus, visit our website or give us a call on (03) 8456 8999.

Albert Einstein’s Other Theory

einstein

Albert Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is the true definition of insanity.

Ok, so maybe Einstein wasn’t specifically talking about the industrial world.

But his “other theory,” does apply to business.

Consider This

AND you continue to do it hoping to see a significant rate of return on your investment — not only might it be a bit crazy, it’s just not profitable.

Think about which processes are being used every day in your company for work to flow from start to finish, in the hope of yielding huge profits.  As a key decision-maker in a company, you need to find the workflow process duplications and overall inefficiencies.

If Einstein were a businessman, he probably would have defined another theory of relativity:

Low Profit

Don’t let this equation be the sum of your business’ value!

Einstein’s theory states the underlying reasons for why workflow software is important for any organisation. Many of the core benefits have been previously discussed in the post 10 Benefits of Workflow. So if you’re not already using workflow software and are considering it, then it’s probably the right time to seriously start looking into it.

If you’re interested in more information about our workflow software please visit Web and Flo.

SaaS, Security and the OWASP 10

intruderWhen considering a SaaS-based solution, people often wonder whether their data will be safe “in the cloud”.  Security is a major advantage to a SaaS solution.  In most situations, security attacks are caused because of the behaviour of legitimate users. According to a recent Forrester Research Report, 70% of all security breaches are caused by internal sources.  By locating the system outside the organisation, security risks can be significantly reduced.

Software as a Service is provided to a customer as a subscription based service that is delivered over the internet. SaaS can eliminate high upfront establishment costs and IT maintenance and support. Security measures are required to keep unauthorized people out of your system and prevent them from reading your data whilst it transmitting. More importantly, measures are used to protect internal users from vulnerabilities, and control their accessibility to ensure they only access what they’re meant to.

The OWASP Top 10 identifies the most dangerous security risks that occur on the internet. It provides a framework for evaluating a SaaS application’s security. The major security mechanisms in a SaaS application can include TLS & SSL, PGP, User management, Password & Passphrase requirements and storage, SAML and Audit Trails.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please download the free security white paper from www.webandflo.com/resources.

10 Benefits of Workflow

Toy car

There are multiple reasons to consider using workflow in an organisation, as it can automate and improve processes in all areas of a business.  The most notable example of workflow being the assembly line (as previously presented), helped to shape the standard of workflow, not only for car manufacturing but for all industries.

The Toyota car company adopted Ford’s assembly line in the 1950s to develop their own lean production system. Over the following years, the benefits of their system resulted in:

  • Productivity increases between 300% to 400%.
  • Labor productivity increased an average of 25% a year.
  • Defect rates reduced from over 2000 to less than 50 parts per million, and in many to less than 10 parts per million.
  • Cost of quality cut by over 60%.
  • Work-in-process inventory cut by more than 80%.

So here are 10 good reasons for how workflow can benefit any business:

  1. Workflow can help by identifying and removing the unnecessary steps/processes.
  2. Modifying the order of the steps can make the process more efficient. For example, some steps could run simultaneously as opposed to sequentially.
  3. Tasks can be assigned to the people with appropriate skills to perform the task, rather than allocating to anyone who needs work to do. This is a compromise in quality!
  4. Management can concentrate on strategic business oriented activities, rather than the day to day operational tasks, such as task allocation and monitoring progress. This means the organisation can grow as a business.
  5. Workflow has provisions to answer all possible questions that arise when deciding on or actioning a task. This helps an individual’s work confidence level, which in turn reflects in the quality of the outcome.
    It answers question like: What actually needs to be done?, Who am I doing this task for?, How long should I take to perform this task?, Who else is involved in the process?, What will happen after I action this?
  6. Workflow follows a sequential order. It ensures that all steps have been completed correctly (especially areas typically prone to human error) and checkpoints met before moving forward.
  7. Paperwork and paper chasing is eliminated thus reduces wastage and saves time. Automatic routing with no paper handling and fast travel time will significantly cut time. The constant movement of the workflow means once a person has finished their part, they can immediately pass it on, so it doesn’t sit around where it can get forgotten or lost.
  8. It improves visibility. Tracking can allow a staff member to instantly check the status of the item. It allows the key people to see the critical processes at every point, identifying problems, and bottlenecks, and monitor end to end performance throughout.
  9. Decisions that were determined by people can be made by the workflow, based on businesses rules that can be made to represent human decisions.
  10. Since the workflow is linked to a database, it keeps a record of what occurs in the system. An audit trail shows who, what, when and what actions were performed.

In summary, workflow provides major benefits for any organisation. The ten identified are just some of the many benefits of workflow. It makes an organisation become more efficient by helping to save time, remove wastage, cut out unnessecary work, better use of human resources, which overall saves money and will help an organisation to grow and improve.