Today's publication we discover series of the materials allowing to look in a new way at application of EDMS for automation of corporate business processes. Implementation of VRM-strategy by means of electronic document management system can seem tempting idea — eventually, the BPM engine is built in any modern solution. However, the interrelation of business process and the document in practice is more difficult, than it is represented in the theory. In series of articles we together with the expert Stanislav Makarov will tell about, why the adjusted automation of storage and document handling — the first step to future BPM automation. In the subsequent articles we are going to show relevance of this thought examples of real business processes, such as budgeting, contractual work or material support.
Possibilities of SED/ESM systems for the last twenty years – namely such is age of this market – have considerably grown. Within its powers any tasks of automation of the business processes which are strongly given up for work documents. At once we will make a reservation: there is no opposition with BPM as with methodology. In SED/ESM solutions modern BPM engines, and their correct use – on conscience of customers and implementers are usually integrated. Modern EDMS is designer of business objects and, in general, automation of document flow by means of similar systems is special case. Such systems can entrust very wide class of tasks of information management at the enterprise. (Note: hereinafter, as the THESIS EDMS developers, we lean first of all on possibilities of the system)
So, having been hit powerful generalpurpose tool in hands, you want to resolve all urgent problems, at one stroke, at once. You will think, document flow, entering-proceeding! Same yesterday! Let's automate our most difficult processes at once! – For someone it is contractual work, for others budgeting, for the third – logistics. At once also you will not guess that is the most important – in the big organization all these solutions can be equally demanded. And is worse than they are everything are interconnected. Here we are also trapped by trap: automation of one section not necessarily will give productivity gain on the organization in general. Because any division does not work separately from others, performance penalties on joints can nullify effect from implementation.
Trap of paradox of productivity
In wider context this phenomenon is known as the "paradox of productivity" formulated by the Nobel laureate Robert Solou who says that "you can see era of computers round yourself everywhere, but not in digits of growth of productivity" (Solow, 1987), and consists in mismatch of costs of IT to the received results. Statistical data have repeatedly confirmed that growth of productivity does not correlate with costs of IT – the more the countries invest in informatization, the more they have expenses on creation and maintenance of IT systems, thus the general performance benefit is not so great.
However, not everything is so sad, the hope is! The latest researches have shown that at the level of the countries it turns out to overcome this unpleasant tendency when some critical volume of attachments in IT infrastructure – that is when all enterprises and the organizations start interacting with each other electronically is reached, business processes reach the new level of efficiency.
Strictly speaking, from scientific position Solou's paradox is shown at the national and global levels, but not at the level of the separate enterprise which can invest in IT with much bigger return, than on average on the industry or the country. Nevertheless, some analogies are traced – as we know, "insular" automation of big effect does not give.
"Two kopeks" from EDMS – in common cause
Allow EDMS to insert two kopeks here: you will not be able to build through, cross-functional business processes in the organization and to optimize communication with the outside world – with clients, suppliers and partners until you create common information space and the general repository of documents. EDMS is important part of IT infrastructure. Let not the most expensive and not the most difficult – in comparison with implementation of ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) or with the heavy ERP project. But without the uniform base of documents which is stored in EDMS, many other initiatives simply slip.
They slip because the paper document or even the file if it is not registered in system, becomes "bottleneck" in business process, causes expenses of time for attachment, copying, transfer, is often lost, comes not in that format, etc., etc. Generally, if there is no culture and policy of work with documents, with informatization growth the mess will only amplify.
So, it is most correct to consider EDMS not simply as the next applied system and as mandatory member of IT infrastructure, and corresponding image to treat its implementation:
- To plan that over time access to system is required to all staff of the organization, but not some narrow group of "clerks";
- In advance to think of integration of EDMS with ERP and other your business applications – because all the same surely it is required;
- To begin with simple projects, and not to hurry with outputs, understanding that full efficiency will come then when EDMS covers" all organization.
Practice shows – approach of gradual complication works
The overview of large implementations of EDMS TEZIS confirms practical usefulness of this approach – we will conditionally call it "begin with EDMS, difficult processes then". For example, the Russian Platinum company needed to automate work with contracts. But before to plunge into specifics of contractual work in the organization, it was necessary to provide infrastructure of document flow. "The Russian platinum" lives in the distributed mode – head office in Moscow, and production divisions in Khabarovsk. Therefore at first it was necessary to develop and implement solution on synchronization of two platforms to implement "adjacent processes" – when participants of chain of approval are who in Moscow and who in Khabarovsk, but thus work as though in one system though them actually two – because the centralized solution too depended on communication link and the risk of idle time would be high.
In Alyans Oil Company too began implementation of EDMS, aiming to reduce terms of approval and to minimize risks of loss of documents – quite normal desire of any customer. As business users did not want "to cave in" and adjust the processes how it is implemented in system, flexibility and possibility of setup of processes was selection term.
(Small note: Business consultants can scarify such approach. On science, it is necessary to perform reengineering and optimization of business processes. Nobody argues, so it also is – only it will be not IT, and the consulting project. The selected earlier flexible system can be recustomized on new processes, according to recommendations of consultants – there is no conflict. But if "to zakhardkodit" management system under old processes, then it should be thrown out simply.)
At the first stage the question of acceleration of process of approval of contracts especially was particularly acute and it managed to be solved by means of EDMS. Further – it is more: after all the essence of contractual work consists not in formal vising of documents or in catching of legal nuances. The task coordinating actually consists in making decision, whether this contract is necessary in general, whether it is possible to imprison him now or it is necessary to wait, whether this partner suits us or not. That is, management of contracts is part of management accounting that involves the corresponding block of functional requirements. As a result it has turned out that the solution has grown then in complex treasurer system which allows to work with payment documents to contracts, to conduct financial planning, to check requests for compliance to the budget and other. It still EDMS or already not? Let theorists puzzle. And for the customer it is system which solves its problems :)
Whether "box" suits you?
With confidence it is possible to answer this question: "Yes!" At first EDMS from box (with settings, necessary at implementation, but without deep customization) will perfectly cope with large volume of standard tasks in any organization. Because work with organizational and administrative documents in principle everywhere is arranged equally. Specifics begin when you interfere in some business processes, at least in contractual activity. Though the Civil Code at us is identical to all, the organizations work with contracts differently – because management accounting is process very creative. After contracts you can have also wider wishes – as the Alyans Oil Company had it and other clients of Haulmont.
Whether it is necessary to set at once task on completion of system if all organizations are unique? Not the fact. Without having learned to use regular opportunities of EDMS, you can "zakastomizirovat" so it the requirements that then support will be costs very much (again we remember about Solou's paradox). Fill from use of standard functions, let people will get used to work with electronic documents. In parallel it is possible to conduct inspection and design of new business processes and completion of system.
Agile methodology, widespread in software development, is quite applicable and to business: increase functionality gradually, step by step. Plan improvement and development of system – the cycle PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) to you in the help! And you will not notice how from standard EDMS at you the system which is precisely configured on requirement of your business will turn out.
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