First Steps with Business Processes

Where ever you work in today’s business environment you will find yourself governed by office processes. These processes are generally designed for the paper age with no thought of autonomy or optimization even given today’s technology and resources.

The concept of Business Process Management consists of two major suites, an eForms suite and a workflow suite. The eForms suite is used to map and optimize the current paper based forms, integrating digital signatures, web services to automatically retrieve data and act as the interface to the end user. The workflow suite drives the form or forms through the governed business process.

The workflow sets whom the form is assigned to, when, how, and what tasks are involved in the process. By using both of these suites the business analyst can truly redesign all business processes to integrate with LOB sources, minimize all manual interaction tasks and offer business reporting on these processes to offer information for CIP and LEAN processes BPR.

Implementing a BPM solution can be a cumbersome task. To make it work for your organization you not only need to invest in the technology but you’ll also need to redefine the way your business analysts think about processes; both current and new. Business Process redefinement is the process of deconstructing the current inefficient process, plotting the target and the key achievements of the process and reconstructing it automating whatever tasks can be automated. Once your process is redefined, a full form and workflow can be created from this new process specification

Advantages of upgrading your business processes:

  • Automation of certain stages in the process
  • Full audit trails can be given for business processes
  • Automatic escalation can be built in to processes to ensure timely delivery
  • Business reporting can be implemented to allow identification of bottlenecks and report on process metrics.
  • Automatic authentication of the form creator and approvers can be built in
  • Location is not so much of an issue with BPM solutions, when creating or approving processes this can be done in most places as long as you have an Internet connection and a VPN to your companies network

So what’s stopping you?


The stopping point for an organisation could be the initial onset of cost for implementing the software and architecture to have and maintain the BPM solution platform, and yes the costs of implementing a BPM solution and training your team in using it efficiently.

Thoughts of negative ROI run riot with this. Obviously implementing a BPM solution requires a large number of current manual processes and generally a CIP or LEAN team able to drive improvement.

Rest assured with a well implemented BPM system you can make your processes efficient saving your business time and ultimately money!

So, what can I do with SharePoint?


SharePoint as a platform offers a fantastic starting point for implementing a BPM solution. It is the starting platform from which your organisation can implement forms workflow and reporting, all tightly integrated into SharePoint.

Forms – Microsoft InfoPath is a fully functional eForms Suite that integrates with SharePoint via either form library with template set up or a forms service form which uses SharePoint. This Suite has support for PKI and is very flexible in terms of what and how you want to define in your forms.

Workflow – SharePoint offers the platform for implementing two types of workflow. SharePoint Designer Workflows offer a simple GUI approach to creating workflows. The software comes with a number of tasks out of the box and allows creation of basic to advanced workflows in minutes. There are times when a more complex workflow is required, or one that can be easily redeployed to separate environments. In that case SharePoint Visual Studio Workflows offer a programmatic approach to creating workflows, this approach is a more flexible way to creating workflows as you can create your own tasks.

Reporting – The SharePoint platform comes with Performance Point (FREE if you hold a MOSS enterprise licence) PerformancePoint is the Microsoft Business Intelligence solution. Allowing creation of KPI’s, gauges, charts and graphs based on your custom data cubes.