10 Keys to a Successful IWMS Integration: pt. 5: Understanding Your Business Process

This week we are excited to bring to you part 5 of our series, 10 Keys to a Successful IWMS Integration: Understanding your Business Process. If you haven’t read the previous article, read Part 4: Standards here.

Business processes are a set of structured activities or tasks that will accomplish the goals a company has.  All successful companies have a business process implemented that they consistently follow.

What does a business process have to do with IWMS?

An IWMS contains workflows for carrying out various, organization-specific processes.

Each IWMS has levels of capability and customization,
which can be tailored to meet a specific organization’s business process.
Therefore, in order to most successfully implement an IWMS into your
organization, it is crucial to examine and refine your current business
process, then select a system that is powerful and flexible enough to not only fit into your current business process, but to optimize it!

Though many IWMS systems are flexible enough to accommodate
a business’ current processes, others require businesses to change their
process in order to fit the capabilities of the system.

Example 1: Work Orders

Computerized Maintenance Management System) maintains a computer database of information about an organization’s maintenance operations and work orders.  Some work orders are preventative maintenance, which means they are generally a scheduled event fired off on a set increment (3 months, 1 month, 1 week, etc).  When the scheduled work order is initiated, a specific business process, or workflow, will trigger.
One such workflow might be that the work order is sent to a dispatcher, who would then pass it off to the proper supervisor, who would then assign it to a craftsperson to accomplish the job.  Once the craftsperson has completed the job, s/he will update it in the system, which will indicate that the job is complete. Then finally, the supervisor will review the job and send it to Accounts Payable to be closed out.

On the other hand, a less complicated workflow might have the work order sent directly to the craftsperson, notifying the supervisor but bypassing the dispatcher. So the work can begin immediately.

Within a flexible IWMS, the workflow should be able to be modified so that it suits however simple or complicated your business process is.

Example 2: Required Estimate & Approval

Consider an activity for which an estimate and approval is
required. In many cases, this means that:

  1. A work request is generated
  2. A threshold is met that triggers the need for an estimate
  3. The estimate request is routed to the estimator
  4. The estimate is completed and routed to the approver
  5. The approver accepts the estimate and routes the request to the supervisor
  6. The supervisor routes this to the craftsperson

When this happens, the estimate often generates a second
approval, which is dropped into a similar dispatching process as described in example one
before, requiring various hand-offs and approvals.

In both of the above examples, a more flexible IWMS could
help work on an
activity to commence (and likely finish) even sooner.

Having a firm understanding of your business process allows you to select an IWMS that is flexible enough to meet your company’s needs.  A successful IWMS implementation will accept your business process in such a way that the system can be modified so there is very little disturbance to the work force.

If you have bought a system that is not robust enough to meet the needs of your company’s business process, you may have to alter the what is currently in place or look to another IWMS system.

The benefits of selecting a flexible IWMS are clear – it can
easily make any organization more efficient and alleviate unnecessary
responsibilities.  However, the vital aspect of every successful IWMS
implementation is to first familiarize yourself with  your current
business process.  Doing so will allow you to adopt a system that can meet or (ideally) optimize workflows and streamline your entire enterprise!


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