Is your organization involved in planning for or implementing digital workflow? To be successful, your organization will need to hire or train a workflow subject matter expert (SME). An important consideration for this position is what roles (planning, implementation/support and expansion) the digital workflow SME will need to fulfill, and if one person or a team is required.
PLANNING — Consultant responsibilities include the development of a digital workflow enterprise plan, vendor assessment, cost/benefit — return on investment (ROI) analysis and project roadmap. For the projects selected, a conceptual design, workflow map(s) and a high-level project plan will need to be assembled. To be objective, the workflow consultant, conducting planning, should be independent of the vendor team selling or providing the software.
For digital workflow to show maximum benefit and ROI, process cleanup and improvement before deployment, using methods such as Six Sigma, LEAN and Business Process Management (BPM) is encouraged.
If a vendor has not been selected, a vendor request for information (RFI) or a request for proposal (RFP) will need to be developed. These requests should incorporate the requirements identified in the enterprise plan, conceptual design, process improvement goals and workflow map(s). Vendor questions should assess vendor software, integration and ongoing support capabilities and costs.
User group executives, managers and staff should be involved in all aspects of planning to gather support for the budget required and to ensure acceptance of process changes caused by the implementation of workflow.
IMPLEMENTATION/SUPPORT — Consultant responsibilities include the development of a detailed digital workflow technical design and a detailed project plan to support implementation. This includes documentation of database/index, integration and user interface requirements. The consultant will also need to set up/program the workflow, database and integration with other systems as well as testing, training and on-going maintenance.
Key to the development of detailed implementation requirements and set up/programming of digital workflow is experience with the software tool utilized. It is best if this role is filled by the software company or integrator selected for the initial implementation; however, much of this role may be transitioned over time to the internal workflow consultant.
EXPANSION — Consultant responsibilities include ongoing user training and the growth of the digital workflow system. The consultant will need to adjust the project road map and plan, develop conceptual/detailed design requirements, workflow map(s), process improvement, set up, programming and training. Typically, this role is staffed by an internal IT resource assigned to business unit and an internal power user within the group.
For the first number of projects, the internal expansion workflow consultant(s) will require support from the workflow planning consultant and the workflow implementation consultant. For major expansion of the system, this support may be required on an ongoing basis.
As indicated earlier, an organization will most likely require a team of digital workflow consultants to provide planning, implementation/support and expansion assistance. To avoid the workflow project stalling out over time, ongoing participation from the user groups is mandatory, as is the establishment/update of an enterprise plan, budget and ROI, showing how digital workflow will provide value to the organization.