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Workflow Managment Software Case Study

Problem

Outdated paper workflow process hampered staff productivity

Solution

Modern electronic workflow automation software streamlines communication and increases scalability

Abstract

An international non-profit organization was growing rapidly, but was using an inefficient paper-based workflow. To handle the amount of information it needed to process, it required more robust business process management software. Greane Tree Technology guided the organization through the process of moving from a paper-based workflow to an automated and electronic business process management system. The challenges Greane Tree addressed paved the way to successfully building a web portal that increased the client’s efficiency and provided a more user-friendly experience for its customers.

Introduction

When Greane Tree was hired, the client was experiencing strong and steady growth, and was signing up its customers more quickly than it had anticipated. Because of the sudden growth, the client discovered inefficiencies in moving customers through its unique and sophisticated market solution. The client’s business requires rigorous step-by-step examination and validation of customers’ qualifications, and the system was using paperwork that had to be transferred internally and circulated among departments. The organization’s small staff had to manually review and process paper forms that were ten or more pages long and that contained both multiple choice and free-form questions. The manual processing was causing delays and backlog, so the client approached Greane Tree for a workflow automation software solution that would form the basis of a more efficient business process management system.

Hypotheses: updated business process management software + web portal

New workflow management software and a more user-friendly web portal would support better communication and scalability. A combination of Agile and Lean Software Development Methodologies would allow us to keep an open, honest, and quality dialogue as we built and iterated upon an evolving business process management system. To create a foundation from which the client could grow and move forward, we planned to build efficient, scalable, and flexible solutions in the context of Agile. This would allow us to engineer custom workflow automation software that would best suit the client’s needs.

Software development methodology

The client had worked with the Waterfall Methodology, but was new to the Agile and Lean Software Development Methodologies. We explained the ways in which Agile differs from the Waterfall approach, noted Agile’s benefits, and recommended Agile as the best option for their project.

Client discovery and implementation

Since the client’s computer infrastructure had not kept pace with its growth and development, the client’s goal was to have business process automation software and web portal upgrades that would include constituent relationship management, workflow application tools, management information reporting, secure two-way communication with customers, and easily updateable content on both public and restricted areas of the website. Greane Tree’s goal was to deliver maximum immediate value, while allowing for later enhancements.

To begin, we held a series of discovery sessions to explore the size and scope of the problems they were trying to solve. These sessions yielded a list of high-level features described by User Stories. The User Stories were then prioritized by importance to the client, so that the client would see the greatest value soonest.

We then began the development process in one-week sprints based on the prioritized list of User Stories. At the beginning of each sprint, we would plan the week’s agenda by discussing the prior week’s results with the client.

We worked closely with the client, so that the client had a first hand view of how Greane Tree was translating items on the requirements list into workflow management software. The client and development team were kept on the same page with respect to understanding desired features, clarifying or modifying specifications and software as necessary, and facilitating the evolution of the upgraded components as they were being built. Being in daily communication with the client allowed Greane Tree to maintain focus on the client’s top priorities, and the client was always aware of the development team’s progress.

After each sprint, Greane Tree would deploy the results to an environment where the client could evaluate, examine and test iterations against its expectations. This way, the client had the opportunity to refine the results before its customers were exposed to its products. It also allowed it to consider other business process automation software modifications and flows that would help internal efficiency.

Results

Once completed, the results of the project positioned the client to better serve its customers, while managing increased demand with room for continued growth. Deliverables included:

  • Business process management software that allows the client to be less dependent on an inefficient paper-based workflow;
  • A public-facing web identity consistent with the client’s mission and stature;
  • A publicly-accessible map and search function that allows website visitors to find accredited facilities;
  • Restricted areas with pertinent resources for different types of registered users;
  • A content management system that allows authorized staff to add, edit, review, publish and delete content from both the public-facing website and the areas of the website restricted to registered users;
  • Easily accessible and clearly organized technical assistance resources for customers, with access to resources tailored to the each customer’s progress;
  • Web-enabled registration and self-assessment forms that authorized staff can complete and submit online to client;
  • A searchable database, accessible to authorized staff, showing customer contact and census information as well as accreditation progress and history;
  • Electronic workflow automation software that assists client’s employees to better monitor and guide customers through the process; and
  • Detailed data capture for management information reporting, with key statistics displayed on a “dashboard” for authorized users.

Conclusions

Growing web applications from the ground up need not be risky or expensive; it can be achieved gradually through evolutionary design and close cooperation between the client and the development team.