In Australia in June 2011, there were 230,638 business with between 5 and 19 employees; and a further 81,006 employers with 20-199 employees; according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Businesses of this size struggle with process – they are large enough to deal with increasing specialisation of work; but the costs of specialised solutions (HRIS systems; Case Managment Solutions; Sales systems) can be prohibitive. Often, this results in continuing with paper or spreadsheet-based systems well beyond the point at which they are efficient for those businesses.
The economies of scale to build and deploy workflows for an organisation means that it is typically large organisations who have the process knowledge, skills, and time available to undertake a process mapping and development process and to get the full benefit of a workflow automation process. On the other hand, all organisations use workflow – the nature of work is that any process involving multipe steps or people can benefit from going through review and automation. In many cases, this means that Small and Medium enterprises don’t get the benefits of workflow… despite being the largest category of employer.
Web and Flo, having worked with large and multinational organisations for over a decade, and an SME ourselves; have decided that enough is enough – and have started developing a library of best practice workflows that we will make available to SMEs for free, or on a subscription-model. The idea is to consolodate the process information we’ve gathered over many years, and make the available to organisations that until now haven’t been able to benefit from BPM and Workflow Automation. We’d welcome any input into what processes are the most painful for business as the outgrow their paper and spreadsheet-based systems. Please feel free to comment in the blog or reach us at the Web and Flo website if you’re interested in learning more, or in registering as a Beta client.
Since Kontinuum is a web based product alot of our clients simply subscribe to our service. There are various factor which determine when it is best to subscribe to a workflow software service or simply to buy the workflow software and host it locally. Here are a few factors which should be considered. Furthermore many of these factors can be applied to the Software as a Service adoption whether it be workflow/BPM or not.
What is the level of risk aversion?
With SaaS you don’t have to make a huge initial investment. You can try before you buy. You can then buy a little and a little bit more as need be.
How dispersed are your users?
With SaaS everything is generally set up so that it can be accessed from anywhere. This does have alot of benefits but there are some drawbacks when it comes to security
How transaction intensive are the workflow applications in dealing with legacy systems?
With web services you can exchange information with legacy systems via web services. You can do it. That doesn’t mean it may be all that worth doing. If you transaction rate is very high exchanging information over the web gets ugly.
How much data is required to be uploaded / downloaded?
Speed can be an issue with SaaS. Especially if you need to upload or download 100Mb files.
How big an issue is security?
Remember SaaS is more likely to be a web based product these days. There may even be legal requirements for data that the information you have is not available on-line.
How much effort is required to get software installed locally?
Sometimes this can be a major issue. One of the largest banks in Australia came to us and they wanted a system up and running in under two weeks. Meanwhile another division within the bank wanted a system to be hosted locally. The division which wanted a local system had to wait about 4 months to get approval where as the hosted workflow applications were created and deployed in 2 weeks. So it took 8 times as longer to get something approved as to get something done.
These factors are just a few off the top of my head but I am sure there are many more