We have had BPM or business process management, for over 25 years now.
It seems have evolved into heavy duty process orchestration systems that require legions of technology experts to assemble business processes across existing technology systems.
But how are any of them relevant in the WRA of the social network , with increasing numbers of small businesses and start-ups using Facebook, Twitter and linked in as well as advertising on Google, to generate leads and income?
A new breed of workflow and BPM saas systems such as Cloudstream, are attempting to find an answer to this question.
They allow non technical users to assemble a working business process or workflow, simply by drawing a flow diagram. Forms that start the process can be designed in a few minutes and directly linked into ads on social media or search engines.
Now, anything from an idle click by a viewer to a request for information or even client information can be directly embedded within Facebook or other sites. Such systems can be easily managed in much the same way people manage their email accounts from Google or Microsoft, and generate reports on timeliness, trends over time and of course cut short the time required to gather essential information to a client query so that a good reply can be made.
Business process management has been the domain of big technology firms, all of whom offer deeply technical systems aims at “orchestration” of business processes – mainly the connecting together of existing systems in an attempt to create end to end workflows that span such systems.
With the increasing move towards cloud based services and software as a service initiatives, such systems are being migrated to the cloud.
But what about small companies, start-ups, even single individual companies, who are beginning to leverage cloud based apps for businesses such as Google apps for work, online editions of Microsoft office etc?
Are they going to hook up a BPM engine to connect their sales pipeline to their order generation and accounting software all of which they run online?
No, they don’t have an IT department and in any case are too busy running their businesses to invest heavily in deep business process design.
Well, until now. Online ‘Software-as-a-service’ workflow such as Cloudstream provide a ‘light’ alternative to traditional BPM.
Such systems allow non technical users to assemble small to medium complexity business processes into online Apps which are , really, business processes running on the cloud.
The key to Cloudstream’s success is the use of non technical, intuitive user interfaces to assemble online forms, connect them to process flows (workflows) and then assign tasks to different uses.
Small businesses can start putting process discipline at a fraction of the cost and effort needed with traditional BPM. And still get the full benefit of end to end process automation, including the ability to leverage online application suites from Google and Microsoft, while providing a high degree of process visibility through reports and charts
Good business and finance processes give your business a strong foundation for growth.
It’s easy to manage everything using back-of-envelope calculations or small spreadsheets to keep track of expenses, sales, resource usage. But this becomes unmanageable over time.
Low cost web based systems such as Cloudstream let any business put together simple, efficient processes that can solve this problem. And standard processes for staff expense claims, leave requests, project and job management, change and staff hire are all available to get you started quickly.
But how do you get started down the road to good financial structure?
Here’s an example, let’s say you’re a garden design firm. You use emails to get requests from clients for different sized gardens, then give them a quote and if accepted, do the job and then submit a bill. At the same time you need to plan the time and resource usage for each job, the expenses submitted from employees on a job, leave request etc.
All of the above can be done using spreadsheets and emails – but keeping track of the numbers, enforcing the necessary discipline even for others to fill in a record of each item, can quickly get out of hand.
Using a simple process execution service you can define a 3 step process, link a form to their website, even redirect emails from potential clients through the process you’ve set up.
Now your clients submit structured requests (because there’s a form that asks just the right amount of info for estimating each job), your employees quickly process it (because they get the info needed) and expenses, staff on leave, clashes with other scheduled jobs can be tracked because all this structured info is there available in easy to use reports on the process website.
Ok so business process management software allow you to convert business processes into complete workflows. But what happens when you want to change something?
Change management is a big problem because any change no matter how small can lead to unforeseen problems on IT systems.
This is usually handled by testing everything in a secondary copy of the main system prior to making the change in the main system. This is expensive and time consuming.
But with everything now available as software as a service, how do you handle changes in business processes when the BPM ENGINE ITSELF IS running as a cloud based software-as-a-service (SaaS)? You can’t just change something without the risk of something else breaking, but you can’t copy the entire BPM system for testing either.
Systems like Cloudstream tackle this problem head on by implementing strict change control via object life cycle management. Every process, form, report or any process building block of a business process is managed so that any change to one automatically creates a private copy of the affected item and anything that belongs to it.
So for example if you change a process flow or a data entry item or a report – running processes are not affected. Newer processes run with the changes after you have had a chance to test them. And if something is still not right you can always revert back to an earlier copy.
If you are a typical small to medium sized business, then one problem you have probably faced is keeping track of everything in your business.
Sure you may have purchased an online accounting package or invested in one of the many SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) HR systems, but what about the vast number of other things such as client facing information requests, state of your sales pipeline (and what to do about each item)
Do-It-Yourself SaaS software like Cloudstream, allow you to create simple business processes quickly, and with no prior technical knowledge. One advantage is that however different each business process is, the information from one can be used alongside that from another.
For example, you can put together a process for tracking and approving employee leave request, and another for scheduling jobs for clients. And then quickly connect info from both into a report so that you don’t schedule staff for jobs if they are on vacation.
Such “cross process” reports are a good way to keep track of activities in your business. Not only do you get report that show who is busy doing what, you can use this to see how best to utilise resources, even forecast annual recurring trends and predict shortfalls in staffing
Ever forgotten a password for your email or other online account? Now imagine how bad it is if you’re running a small or medium sized organization with many user using different passwords across multiple systems.
An increasing trend in online systems is to use the identity management and password management systems of well established and frequently used social media and other sites such as Google mail and Facebook
Our business prices management (Workflow) site Cloudstream uses this approach to simplify identity and password management. You can log in using your Google or Facebook passwords and emails and use Cloudstream for creating and assembling business processes quickly.
When you start a business, keeping to strict business processes is the last thing that you worry about. But as your business grows, your business’ development and growth can slow down due to a lack of strong business processes.
With low-cost cloud based workflow tools such as Cloudstream, there really is no excuse for not setting up the discipline of good process practice pretty early on in your business.
Consider the following business processes that most businesses need. You may not need all of them, or even most of them at your stage of growth, but as your business grows the need for these will grow as well:
Time & Expense Management services such as: Timesheets for employees, Project management, Complaints handling and Change Management.
Staff Management services such as: Expense Claims, Leave Requests, Hiring Process and Joining Process.
Client Handling such as: Request Handling, Complaints.
Sales Tracking: Pipeline Tracking
Not entirely familiar with Cloudstream? Cloudstream converts business processes into workflows which run on the web. It doesn’t matter if there are any members of your workforce who aren’t particularly technical. Any user can create a workflow in Cloudstream and attach forms before publishing it so that the business process can be viewed by anyone else within the organisation. All you need to access Cloudstream is a web browser.
Cloudstream makes things easy, and forms, processes and reports can all be created by anyone at any time. Cloudstream is simple to use and it will save your workforce time. Forms are easy to design, edit and share. Forms are data capture screens within Cloudstream. Forms can contain different elements, such as images and attached documents. They are closely associated with processes, and when a user begins a process or wants to edit or interact with a process, then they use a form.
Eager to know more? Do you want to know more about creating forms within Cloudstream? Save time and make things easier on yourself, with our help. We can help you make the most of Cloudstream so that it benefits both your workforce and your business as a whole.
Onboarding has to do with the mentoring and development of a new member of staff. Often referred to as ‘orientation’, onboarding is a broader, longer drawn out process. The first few weeks on a new job are nervous ones for a new employee. There’s the pressure to fit in with other members of the workforce, there’s an expectation to do well and pick things up quickly, and to be as productive and industrious as possible.
Staff onboarding relates to the mentoring and training often covered in the first few weeks on a new job, but it’s also concerned with how those first few weeks impact on the new employee’s work going forward. Follow-ups are important, as is good communication, assessing how successful the onboarding process is going.
Before the onboarding stage you obviously have the hire stage. Employing new staff isn’t that easy. You want to know you’re hiring someone with the right skills and experience for the job, and who you think will work well within the context of the team. Here at Cloudstream we provide pre-made apps which you can adapt to meet your needs, including employee hire. By using the cloud, you can make your working life easier.
It can’t be efficient or cost effective to have different aspects of your business controlled by different service providers. There are many ways to improve efficiency and streamline business processes, and one of those is by converting your business processes into workflows in the cloud.
There are many benefits to using cloud technology, and if you’re keen to see how these can benefit you then look to Cloudstream. Our powerful system can help you manage your business in everything from creating simple to complex applications to running processes in the cloud. You can also take advantage of our value pack of pre-made apps and adapt them to meet your specific business needs. These apps cater to all common business processes, from recruitment to change management.
If you want to improve the day to day running of your business processes and tasks and save your employees vital time and business money then you need look no further than Cloudstream. Our cloud-based software will exceed all your expectations, improve efficiency and productivity, and as a result, make your business more competitive.