Bridging oversight: it’s all about integrated workflow – the integration imperative for government document management software (part III)

Process.

It’s not a word that comes up as often as “paper” when talking about document management and enterprise content management (ECM). But the reality is, document management is often less about the documents and more about the processes. And just like the documents are better off integrated with the data, so are the processes. Here’s what I mean.

Workflow is the state-of-the-art, fool-proof bridge to automatically eliminate the "oversight” in data systems.

I used to be a project manager in government. There were many times that I had about 70 projects in the works, and all in different stages. Some of these projects were really struggling. In the government world, a floundering project meant that the community just couldn’t get it going for any number of reasons. This also meant that the funding for the project was not getting spent as our federal funder would like.

My natural reaction to these projects? Give them the bulk of my attention to get them moving. But what about my other projects? Well, the sad fact was, if I did not receive new correspondence, e-mails or documents from them, I would lose track of what was happening, and maybe even miss a compliance task.

Then, it happened. One of my colleagues forgot a very important compliance task. The result: we had to PAY BACK the federal government for the funding we had spent on a project.

The problem with all of this goes back to the lack of integration. Our databases only had places to record WHEN things happen. There was no way to ensure that things DID happen. No reminders to staff that they hadn’t received documents or missed key tasks. And no way for managers to keep track of all the projects of their five-plus staff members.

See what I mean by the process problem when data and processes aren’t integrated?

Once the missed compliance task incident occurred, I took action. It became an absolute must that we integrate our document management’s workflow component with the data. Here’s a quick view of how it worked.

The integrated software – document management and the database – created an automated workflow when a new data record was created. Throughout the project, it automatically sent the right people e-mail notifications – if there was a deadline coming up, if documents were missing, etc. And, if I forgot something, workflows would escalate reminders to my manager. That way, if one person’s being irresponsible, the manager knows about it and can act on it. This was a much better strategy than me creating endless e-mail and calendar reminders.

 If you’re looking for a more simple way to explain this, here’s how I approach it. Your job is to start a project by entering data and finish it without committing any errors. Workflow is the state-of-the-art, fool-proof bridge to make this happen. In other words, workflows automate the “oversight” in data systems. Pairing these systems with document management and its workflows is the only way to address the needs of government projects that require a mix of data, documents and oversight.

Want more on this topic? I hope the answer is “yes” – I already have a post in progress on how this works in the courts.

Terri Jones

Terri Jones

Wondering what goes into a document management or ECM software deployment in government? Terri Jones, Hyland's government marketing portfolio manager, has your answer. In her 10 plus years in both state and local government, she's managed IT departments, implemented ECM strategies and written legislation and program policies. If that isn't enough to prove her IT expertise in government, she has also designed and implemented data systems and websites to manage compliance and funding in excess of $90 million annually. Have a question for her? Contact her at terri.jones@onbase.com.

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