I interviewed Romeo Elias who discussed Business Process Management and Workflow Automation.
Today we're speaking with Romeo Elias who is the president and CEO, as well as the founder of Intellect, which is a Business Process Management Software Company. And they also focus on quality and compliance management for organization. Today's topic is Business Process Management and Workflow Automation. Romeo, can you first provide a brief background of yourself?
Thank you, Dustin. It is good to talk to you. My background, I kind of came out of the engineering world. I am a mechanical engineer and manufacturing engineer, and about 16, maybe 17 years ago, I came up with the idea of helping companies — initially it was engineers —automate some of the knowledge and some of the processes that they do every single day in their day-to-day lives.
So we started the company and really, my background has been primarily very focused on process and helping companies optimize and automate what they are doing manually. As we evolved the business and we started to work with various companies and customers, early on, companies like Boeing and Jacob Engineering, we learned quickly that the software in this approach could really help with various departments, not just the engineering departments. And so we expanded it into pretty much a broad platform to help any department in organizations to capture their processes.
So that's kind of a little bit of background on myself. So really, it's primarily this company that I've been focused on for most of my career and really growing the business. And today we work with customers worldwide. We have hundreds of customers all over the world — tens of thousands of users. And the software is used for a variety of processes — in human resources or in supply chain and finance and operations and engineering, in a variety of different industries and verticals.
Thank you. Can you talk about what is business process management and also workflow automation?
Absolutely.So basically, when companies grow, they get to point where... When you're starting out, you can do things manually. You can pretty much have some of the information and processes ingrained in some core people's heads, essentially. And you can run the business and grow and be efficient. But you get to point where it becomes not manageable anymore. And plus, you need to implement process and controls to ensure compliance, ensure that you have a repeatable and reliable customer experience, that you are delivering on your service levels for your clients, and your employees are treated the right way. So it's essential that you get to a point of maturity where you really want to standardize and have an enforcement of processes.
So then you start to define your processes, and you say, "Okay, this is how we do, for example, on boarding of an employee." Or, "This is how we handle expenses and how we report expenses and how we reimburse expenses and how we approve them." So you document all these, and that's another level. At that point,you're doing business process managing, because you're basically documenting your processes, and then you're trying to enforce them and follow them.
Then business process automation is the next level beyond that where not only do you have your processes documented, how do you ensure that you use technology that ensures that those processes are being followed correctly, that you have transparency and visibility into whether they are or not. Then you can improve on those processes and ensure that any bottlenecks are being streamlined and addressed so you can report and get more information about your business and how you're performing overall. So you would use a software, like business process management software, to enable you to do that.
So workflow automation is a component of BPM. Essentially, to have a BPM software, a company has to have a number of tools integrated into their software platform that enables that. You need to have the ability to create forms that will capture data and that's usually a form builder. You need an ability to have an engine that allows you to model a block diagram describing your workflow, just like in Visio, and then basically, to be able to execute that, to enforce it, which is what that engine would do.
You need the ability to capture business rules and case management. So this is where you defined certain requires for how the business, the workflow, will run, and how the form data is being captured and what happens under certain cases.
You need to have a notification engine that will notify people that they have to do something in this process or maybe to escalate if the process is stalled. You need to have visibility to reporting and dashboards. So you have to be able to create all that. And there's a number of other ones. You need to be able to store data. You need to have a user interface. And then, obviously, one critical piece as well is an ability to interface and integrate with different systems that you have, because oftentimes, your systems are not running in a silo, they're running interconnected with various other tools that you have.
So a BPM software suite allows you to do all of that. It will take all of those capabilities and then use them to create business processes and automate them. In our world, we call them apps. We're able to create these apps, and then you're able to deploy them in a web environment and also mobile environment and be able to then manage, to [inaudible 00:05:54] the flows and the information that's being passed along from person to person as part of your process.
Does that make sense?
Yes. Can you talk more about why is this important?
Well, I mean, if you don't do this, then you really... I mean, this happens all the time. We’ve been in so many large companies. We visit, and they're doing everything manually on paper or on spreadsheets. You just don't know what's going on. You have a lot of inefficiencies otherwise. I'll give you some examples where a university we were working with had a process of approving contracts and subcontracts that were awarded to them. And just the process that they have to go through in order to get the subcontract reviewed by the various entities from the operations to the legal team to the scientists and researchers involved, and oftentimes the government, who is awarding this, when it's manual, first of all, it's reinvented every time. It's like you're doing things the same way every single time, or completely from scratch. Second, you have no visibility into what's going on. So something may be sitting on someone's email box or inbox or just their desk for weeks, and nobody knows where it's at.
So you have all these inefficiencies. I mean, it takes six months to a year to get something approved, just because of the inherent inefficiencies when you have a lot of people doing this manually.
So when you implement BPM to that, and you map out the process, and you automate it using a software like ours, you can reduce that complexity and inefficiency down to a few days. Literally, it could be a couple of weeks now, because there's no more of this friction. Everything disappears, and everybody now knows what's going on — full transparency — because the amount of effort required to complete the process isn't six months. It's usually hours. But because there's no visibility to anything, it can be spread out across that amount of time.
I'm sure we've all experienced this in companies when the moment you put in transparency and visibility and structure, everything moves a lot faster.
Can you talk about implementation and how implementation is done effectively?
So typically, when we work with customers, they've already identified that they have a process problem. They’ve already identified, maybe it's an area in their organization, let's say...And let's take HR on boarding, because probably a lot of people are familiar with that. So if you're a large organization and you hire an employee, you need to decide, first of all, you have to collect all their paperwork from HR. Then you have to decide what systems they may have access to or not, in terms of servers and software and cloud services, whatever you want to give them access to. You may have to decide also in terms of what business cards they have to get ordered and what desk they sit on, and what options they have to specify in terms of benefits and so on.
All those things have to happen. And most companies, they do these in a completely unstructured way, and it's very manual and it's not unusual that an employee is onboarded, and a month later, they still haven't received a laptop, or they still haven't gotten access to some critical system that they need in order for them to perform their work. And there's a real cost for that.
So the first thing you have to do is really add... The company has got to identify this problem. They've decided and mapped out that the process... They say, "Every employee now, from this point on, has to follow this process. They have to... Once we onboard them, we need to make sure that first they fill out these forms. Then they have to notify their manager to order these things. Then we have to make sure the marketing team is informed of getting them business cards," and so on and so forth. IT has to be informed about their server status, access, and so on.
So all that stuff gets mapped out into a flowchart, and along with information, business rules about what happens if...how many approvals they need for the server versus for that server and so on. So they come to us with this information. We work with them. We work to understand it, and then we basically take that and either we show them how to use the platform to build out the process and automate it themselves, or we do it for them, and then they take it on.
And this typically, with a BPM solution, the key is that you're not programming. There is no traditional programming here. It's all done through a drag-and-drop interface. So the key is speed of deployment and speed of change. So you would drag and drop the forms. You would drag and drop, build out that flowchart from the system. You put in your business rules, again, just through the interface, and then that could be a process of a few hours to maybe and few days, and then you have that process implemented, and then you are able to run it. And once you run it, now from this point on, the person will be walked through that process from beginning to end.
Some of the inherent benefits are reporting and dashboard. So you'll be able to see all this information. You'll be able to see how quickly you're responding. You can enforce the rules. Now you know you're compliant. If anybody audits you, all this information is there.
Thanks for sharing today, Romeo.
Absolutely, Dustin.Hopefully this was helpful and gives your audience a sneak peek into the world of BPM and workflow management.
Great. Thank you.
About Romeo Elias
Helping companies automate workflow and process, BPM Expert, Entrepreneur, Advisor, CEO at Intellect