The growth of business process efficiency as a result of using SAP Business Workflow
The growth of business processes efficiency in ERP systems may be achieved through their improvement, optimalization and automation using workflow management systems. The popular idea of an American economist Lester Thurow says that competitive world has two possibilities for you: you can lose or, if you want to win, you can change. The ongoing, dynamic growth of world economy and strong competitive market make every company need to undergo changes and to quickly adapt to the new environment. Nowadays, to fulfill these requirements and to gain the competitive advantage, it is necessary to use tools, methods and techniques which increase the efficiency of business processes. At the same time these tools, methods and techniques should allow the company to keep flexible and to make it react immediately to environment changes.
Core definition of business processes are not often reengineered. However, there are a lot of possibilities to improve, optimize and automate them. We should especially take into consideration these processes in which actions are initiated by a human and which employ machines, documents and all types of information that are passed among executors in a specific way. The best solution, which improves the quality and effectiveness of business processes that affect documents and tasks flow, is to apply workflow system.
Workflow system which is delivered by SAP within ERP system is fully integrated with R/3 tool which streamlines document flow and improves the efficiency of workflow. It has a huge role in processes in which human factors and the sequence of performed tasks are important. Although the best effects of SAP Business Workflow are gained with connection to SAP R/3 objects, there are no constraints to support external solutions – the scope of use covers all business areas in which we deal with data, information and documents flow.
SAP Business Workflow assures active, transparent and automated flow of proper information, in an appropriate sequence, at the right time, to the right places and in a defined form. Efficient and fast exchange of information between process participants enables to avoid mistakes, misunderstandings and delays on each its stage. As a result it improves the resources allocation, reduction of runtime and process costs. SAP Business Workflow is then the answer to companies needs in area of approval processes optimization, such as invoice verification, approving of absence and business trips, and purchase requisition or purchase order approvals. Moreover, the workflow system meets expectations concerning the definition and automation of specific processes, which are often executed according to top established business rules, for example, creating vendors or materials master data records in several divisions of the company. The important feature of SAP Business Workflow is also the possibility of making the process transparent, clear and supervised in order to achieve the optimal efficiency or, for example, to gain appliance with guidelines of specific acts or to adapt to internal organization rules.
Practical run of SAP Business Workflow mechanisms in SAP R/3 is connected with creating (or modifying existing) workflow scenario for one of working system processes, using available system objects and defined organizational structure. The scenario defines which events initiate and terminate workflow run, under which conditions messages, announcements and tasks get to the proper person in the organization structure.
Many universal and popular business processes are modeled in the system as ready-to-use scenarios. As a result we do not need to create them from the beginning and we only have to adjust them to particular organization. Thanks to the possibility of integration with external e-mail boxes, participants of process may receive notifications about triggered events and about tasks waiting for execution, with no necessity to login into system. Moreover, the integration with external graphic interfaces (i.e. web interface) to a large extent eliminates the need of direct use of system in favor of execution tasks and decision making through external, special and interactive forms. Considering intuitive environment of scenario editing, rich repository of templates as well as legibility and ease of modification, we receive possibility of quick reaction for changes of external conditions. During execution there is the possibility of monitoring and tracking the process run with report tools. Standard reports deliver such information as frequency of particular process execution, average run time, as well as waiting time. Furthermore, there is the possibility of reports configuration to present statistics of process run, with attention on data important for concrete organizational units. It allows to analyze the duration of creating master data records for various plants or to compare number of rejected purchase requisitions for divisions. The results of reports help to gain bigger effectiveness of process by managing participants and resources of processes without reengineering them.
Besides optimization and automation, SAP Business Workflow gives clarity of definition and facilitates owners current control over their processes. High quality of process can be assured by delivering to participants all necessary information with hyperlinks to needed documents and system transactions. The participants receive them directly in form of messages. Defined, fixed time of realization assures the execution of tasks according to plan, and in case of failure, proper resources will be replaced. Thanks to the possibility of tracking of process run, its owner, as well as each other participant, can check progress of realization of particular tasks and the whole process is ready to execute further stages.
The reduction of execution time of business processes is undoubtedly one of the most important features of SAP Business Workflow which results in growth of competitiveness. Besides improved effectiveness of area in which particular process is run, we may decrease costs by reduction of staff engagement in some tasks of the process. It gives us more flexibility in managing human resources, so we may allocate them more effectively. Clear rules, which are the basis for workflow definition and for the possibility of fast identification of bottlenecks, imply further important issue concerning costs – namely significant reduction of process failure may result in savings.
Market effectiveness of contemporary organization to a large degree depends on efficient cooperation with business partners. In other words, it is not enough for processes of our organization to be faster and more fluent than processes of our rivals. It is worth to notice that SAP Business Workflow also assures the flexibility, rapidity and effectiveness in processes between our organization and key business partners.
All presented advantages of using workflow management systems, as well as expected return on investment, are visible when workflow system becomes everyday work tool. However, unusual possibilities and undoubted opportunity of gaining a lot of measurable and immeasurable benefits give strong arguments for implementing this workflow management system, especially together with ERP system.