Workflow is one of those words that gets tossed around, and the more people in the Accounts Payable Automaton world talk about it the more we forget that not everyone may know what it means nevertheless what it does.
I am sure there is a fancy definition of workflow, but the way I like to describe it, workflow is an electronic approval process. Where workflow could get confusing is it also is used to describe the software that runs the approval process. For this article I am referring to workflow as the approval process.
Depending on the service provider (the automator) you use, your workflow may have certain features and functional that may be missing, so for this article is about the processes within the workflow.
Each approval process has an internal process, or a purpose. It is in the purpose that I find a lot of people miss the point. To stay on point I have 3 tips.
Tip 1 – Only allow approvers in your electronic approval process. For this tip to work you have to create a definition of what an “approver” is. I define an approver as someone who is making a decision on the invoice. This eliminates people from the process who just want to “see” the invoice, or people in the process who want to take data off of the invoice. I see this a lot with utility bills where there is someone holding up the process because they are pulling and calculating consumption information from the invoice.
Tip 2 – The decision-making pattern of the workflow needs to be based on a hierarchy. The tip here is related to keeping your electronic approval process organized. I wrote about this in The 8 Pitfalls and when this is used wrong I even gave it a name (I love doing that) – Looping. Looping is when the same person is doing different things in the same approval process at different time. (So) That two differences and two sames. To give you a much better example (you are welcome) Looping is when you have an accounting person at in the first step of the process and in the third step of the process making different decisions. You would have that person in only one step making both decision. Looping comes from the old paper world where there was a need for higher “hands on” checks and balances.
Tip 3 – The last sentence of tip 2 is a perfect segway into the final time on processes in workflows. Do not rely on your paper approval process to create your automated approval process. (Again) You can read more about that in The 8 Pitfalls book… I even start the book off by writing about “paper dysfunction”. The tip here is to start fresh. Learn the capabilities of your service provider, know the approvals that have to be done by certain people and create a new approval process that is the most efficient… it’s a new day!
Want to know more? Buy My Books!
To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy
(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy