What ERP workflow integration can do for you

There’s ‘a lot’ of buzz about ‘workflow integration’ these days, particularly when it comes to enterprise operations.

On one side of the equation, systems developers are going great guns combining anything that moves, whirrs, or blinks.

Meanwhile, on the ‘wetware systems’ side, i.e. people, and how they behave and interact at a workforce level, mixed processes are becoming ubiquitous ranging from HR, to Accounting, and ultimately across ERP integrations.

Consequently, we thought it would be a good idea to define just what ‘integrated workflow’ is, and what the technology may mean to your own ERP operations.

What is ERP ‘workflow integration?’

In general terms ‘workflow’ is defined as…

“The execution of data processes involving tasks, records, or documents that are, in turn, passed from one participant to another, according to sets of established procedural rules.”  

However, in the ‘integrated workflow’ world, where data or information elements were previously moved from place to place via manual mechanisms, such as discrete batch processes, many of today’s enterprise systems exhibit levels of ‘internal smartness’ to the degree that up and downstream processing can be executed without human interaction.

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For ERP operations, this means faster and resource decision-making, better and more granular business intelligence, and all round faster and more efficient business operations.

Who talks with whom, how, and when?

Consider a simple sale involving a product delivery from a warehouse to a customer. In very simple terms, the following steps typically apply;

  1. The customer contacts sales and orders a product.
  2. The company’s sales department receives the order. 
  3. The sales rep queries the company’s inventory to ensure product  stock
  4. An internal order number is generated initiating the sales/delivery/AR cycle.
  5. Invoice advice is delivered to inventory personnel, followed by pick list generation
  6. This event triggers warehouse identification and removal of the product from a bin/shelf location, while reducing the product’s total static unit count. 
  7. Once the product is ready to ship, the pick list is closed, in addition to triggering the generation of a final invoice
  8. The product is then packaged as required, and sent on to the customer across whatever delivery channel is preferable.
  9. The customer receives the product and the invoice is paid accordingly.

In this scenario it takes a minimum number of eight manual steps to execute this simple task loop, and I purposely left out several tasks like sales reporting, commission accrual, closing the invoice, and booking to the AR etc.

Now, imagine all of those steps are done on the basis of a single keystroke.

Where each process task is handled in a cascading manner, while the system itself monitors its progress end-to-end.

This is the physical result of an ‘integrated workflow’; where systems combine, initiate, and monitor hosts of process-chains that, in turn, execute both simple and complex tasks automatically throughout the enterprise.

As I suggested earlier this approach to task management is entirely based on the delivery of faster, more efficient decision-making, on top of better and more granular business intelligence. Now let’s be frank; who wouldn’t want to leverage that business advantage?

 

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Rick Carlton

About the author…

Rick Carlton dba PRRACEwire, has worked as a tech journalist, writer, researcher, editor and publisher for many years. In addition to his editorial work, Rick has also served as a C-Level executive/consultant for a wide-range of private and public sector U.S. and International companies.

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Rick Carlton