Microsoft Dynamics GP is a mature and robust ERP platform for small to medium sized enterprises. In terms of pure functionality, it’s hard to beat. A well-respected group of developers have been responsible for providing extended functionality in a wide variety of ways. Alba Spectrum is one of these developers. We have a number of extension applications that fit niche requirements for our customers, and the customers of our Dynamics partners.
However, there has been a large gap that has remained unfilled – the need for a comprehensive workflow automation application to bring disparate parts of Dynamics GP together. In our work with clients, we have uncovered the following signs that your firm might benefit from the introduction of workflow to your business processes:
Approval processes are complex and difficult to manage - We’d all like to have a straight line from request to approval, but some businesses don’t work that way. For whatever reason, your approval processes involve many levels, or many different departments, and perhaps not all approvers are working on similar systems. A well-constructed workflow application can give you the visibility and control you need to ensure that priority business decisions are being made in a timely and orderly fashion.
You are relying on paper request forms, emails, excel worksheets or Access to manage requests or approvals. – What worked for you when you were running a small company may not be working today. Especially if you are still relying on paper trails to track important decisions. And the problem only gets worse as new employees and managers join, all with their own ideas about how an approval should look and behave. Nip that problem in the bud with a well-organized workflow solution that does not rely on paper, or any other third-party product, to keep business moving.
Process decisions are not being adequately reviewed – You’d like to add more layers of approval to critical business decisions, but you are afraid of overloading your employees. Perhaps they won’t take the time needed to make sure the recommended processes are being followed. Alba Spectrum Workflow is self-documenting, it keeps track of every decision along any branch of a decision tree. It also smoothly moves documents to the next approver, without increasing the workload on the last approver.
Current process systems are unable to accommodate the types of approval needed for effective decision making – There will come a time when any manual process will break down, because of too many unique situations. Once your team members have to start thinking about routing, that’s when things will get routed incorrectly. With Alba Spectrum Workflow, documents will be routed based upon your rules, and there are no limits to the number of rules you can have, or when you add them. So when circumstances change, you simply change the workflow, not the behavior of your team.
You need to reduce the number of system ‘touchpoints’ – You’re probably finding that all business decisions, large or small, are ending up on your desk. And this is also happening on too many of the other approvers in your company. Take some of the simple decisions out of the process by making them automatic. Workflow can help you set thresholds that assisting eliminating the simple or obvious decisions, allowing you more time to concentrate on the ones that will make a difference.
Business process are geographically diverse – More and more businesses of all sizes are becoming geographically dispersed. Whether you’ve implemented a telecommuting policy, or you have key staff in other cities, or countries, you can keep the line of business decision making open with a web-based approval mechanism that is available, 24/7 to all employees.
You have a mobile workforce – If you find that your inside staff is spending a large amount of time discussing business-flow related information with outside staff, perhaps a well-designed workflow could eliminate the need for all that conversation. And since workflow is designed to be disconnected, like email, your teams can deal with documents and approvals on their timetable, without the interruptions that can make other tasks drag.
Management are spending too much time making routine decisions – Not every decision that needs to be made in the course of a day has the same impact on company performance. If you are finding that your senior staff are spending too much time on relatively minor decisions, we can assist you in having a workflow application filter out many routine approvals before they reach them.
The ERP system is not an effective tool for executive oversight – ERP systems process thousands of transactions efficiently, but they are not designed to understand the relative importance of any individual transaction. By setting up a few simple business rules, you can involve your senior executives in the transactions that have a large impact on the company, ensuring that those transactions are well-understood and documented.
Identifying and tracking process problems is ineffective – As your organization grows, the number of processes that are being executed at any time increases exponentially. You develop a forest of process so thick, it’s hard to see how one tree has an impact. Paths are crossed, or get lost. Alba Spectrum Workflow presents you with a simple management scoreboard, which tracks the current state of every workflow and summarizes the information for at-a-glance access. And if any indicators are showing problems, clicking through will drive right down to the affected issue.
Process performance can’t be directly tracked – Many business processes require more time to document what you did than they take to do! This de-motivates your employees from providing the information you need to understand where the bottlenecks might be. Alba Spectrum Workflow is designed to minimize the input required from your team, allowing them to do their job, and you to get the information you need.
Training staff to understand and comply with your business processes is not happening – Over the years, as different processes become part of the way that you do business, there reasons for doing things a certain way become lost in time. Employees take shortcuts, and new employees may not even know how a process is supposed to run. Alba Spectrum Workflows are self-documenting, with all the information available via the design screens. So you’ll never have to answer a “why” question about the way a process works. And, if a new employee finds a better way to do something, it’s comforting to know that you can adjust a process quickly and easily.
Some staff are not equipped to effectively use an ERP system – Access to a full ERP can be expensive. Using Alba Spectrum Workflow, you can provide employees with a simplified form to access only the information required. There is less chance of incorrect information getting into the ERP. And simple forms are far easier to train on than a complex ERP window.
Your ERP system is geared to track transactions rather than activities – ERP systems capture information at a point in time. But your business is a continuous stream of constantly changing events, and if you want to be able to see what’s happening, you’re going to need to see the stream of events. Our dashboards will give you at-a-glance access to what’s going on, so that you can make the appropriate decisions.
It can be difficult to see where something is in the system (or on whose desk) – Many business processes can span a number of days, or longer. Sometimes, you can lose sight of who is currently active. The workflow dashboard will keep you on top of these long-running processes. On the other hand, in many fast-paced businesses, many people will be involved for short periods of time, and the right person to talk to can change rapidly. The dashboard is as fast as your employees, so you will always know what is where!
Relationship and Service Management
Manual systems can't affordably provide the level of Customer or Vendor support needed to maintain strong business relationships – Customer and vendor relationships can be complex, too complex to keep in your head or in a filing cabinet. And sophisticated Customer Relationship Management systems are terrific, but they’re a whole new level of complexity. What if you need a better handle on your relationships, without the expense of CRM? A workflow solution may be just the right size for your organization. You’ll know who has the lead on an issue, and where it will go next. Your dashboard view will track everything at a high level, and still allow you to drill down for the details. And you don’t have to add another layer of complexity to the business.
Customer and Vendor issue resolution methods are not effective or reliable – Customers respect a supplier with guaranteed service levels. And you want to deliver on your promise of performance. But ad-hoc arrangements not only obscure who is responsible, that are impossible to diagnose to see where things went right or wrong. And that could be costly both in terms of good customer service, and potential litigation. Set your standards by implementing a workflow and monitoring its progress. Even if you do not have a thousand transactions occurring a day – it only takes one to create an issue.
You have a large number of temporary staff, or you are in a business that experiences high turnover – Training costs are out of control, and employees build their own systems to fill in for complex or missing processes. On top of that, since you don’t want temporary employees accessing business-critical data, you’ve got too much time being spent on senior employees or the I.T. department finding information. With customizable web-based front-end applications, you can streamline the amount of information displayed to staff, and limit the potential actions. And since workflow can route entered information correctly, you don’t need to worry about things disappearing.
Process compliance is a significant issue – Any business that has close governance needs to ensure that employee activity meets compliance standards. A well-designed workflow process not only ensures that activities take place in a well-regulated manner, they are also documented for auditing purposes at any time.
Business process need to be tracked over extended time periods – Not every process in your business is completed in a day, or perhaps not in a month, or year. Take advantage of the limitless memory of a well-designed workflow system. No matter where a business process is in its cycle, you will always be able to track where it came from, how long it’s been in the current state, and where it’s going.
ERP system functionality does not cover all your operations. Some processes are split between ERP and other systems – Workflow can assist you in bringing disparate systems together. Alba360 Advanced Workflow can read and write to external databases using a number of industry-standard protocols. You can even end the duplicate entry of critical information, which is the leading cause of erroneous data in reports.
You have unique business process that seemingly can only be met with a high-cost custom solution – Workflow can be a very cost-effective solution bridging the gap between making an ERP do things it really wasn’t meant to do, and the outlay of large sums of money for a proprietary solution. You can even use workflow to prototype applications before you begin the search for a custom solution. And of course, Alba Spectrum is an excellent source for custom solutions.
You need to integrate information from a variety of sources in order to make business decisions – Data comes from a variety of sources, and in order to make a good business decision, you need all of it, and you need it in a timely manner. Execute a workflow to collect information, and it can be presented in a variety of ways. We can help you make more effective business decisions faster.