What ingredients are involved in a digital workflow?
To understand how paperless processes translate into a digital workflow within a document management system, it’s helpful to start by looking at the basic components: user tasks and automated tasks (or “unattended activities”).
A user task prompts an individual to make a decision or perform an action related to a particular document, such as an invoice. The system then performs “unattended activities” related to the document, including automatic decisions, calculations, data updates and data assignments. Combining these two components in various ways allows you to define almost any document-based workflow.
How Digital Workflows Influence Business Processes
A typical workflow begins when it’s triggered by a predefined condition in the document management system, such as storing a new document of a certain type. The person in charge of the paperless workflow then assigns that document to an individual, who is prompted to make a decision. Based on that decision, the workflow proceeds in one of several directions until it reaches the end of the cycle and the document is archived.
Here’s an example of a simple workflow your human resources (HR) department could use to process job applications. When a new resume or application arrives, via email, electronic submission or physical mail, it’s captured in the document management system, triggering a digital workflow. The HR department’s controller for digital workflows assigns variables and sends the new application to a staff member. This staffer could be assigned by name or by role; the document management system may be integrated with Active Directory or other user directories to import personnel data and create role-based substitution lists, used to manage escalations in the workflow.
That staff member now has a “user task” to perform: reviewing the application, and deciding to either reject the application or invite the person in for an interview. Based on that decision, the system performs automated or unattended activities. If the applicant has been rejected, the system sends out a rejection email, closing the workflow. If the applicant has been accepted for an interview, it sends an invitation email.
The next user task is to conduct the interview and decide whether to hire or reject the applicant. Again, the system then sends the appropriate automated response, either a rejection email or a job offer, and closes the workflow.
Variations on this simple digital and paperless workflow could be used in any industry for a wide range of processes, from simple to highly complex.
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