Drinking our own champagne

Like so many of the customers we serve, Hyland is constantly evolving as a business. We’re broadening our product portfolio, expanding our offices, developing our customer base and reorganizing our teams to improve the way we work.

As VP of Information Systems, I need to make sure Hyland has the right internal technology to keep up with all of this growth and change. A big part of that is evolving our systems and processes to support Hyland’s business plan — finding the right solutions to match the scope of the problems we’re addressing, while making smart use of resources and keeping costs in check.

I’ve found that, whatever issue we’re tackling, the more malleable the solution – the more flexible and configurable it is – the more agile and adaptable it enables Hyland to be as a business. That’s why we’ve come to rely on OnBase as our low-code, rapid application development platform.

We use it to create purpose-built solutions that fill the gaps between our core systems (i.e. Salesforce for customer relationship management, Workday Financials for accounting, UltiPro for human resources). It equips us to handle the endless variety of business needs that come our way, especially as it relates to quickly integrating newly acquired organizations, which bring their own set of systems, processes and challenges.

Endless demand for technology

Back in the day, when we only had a few customers, our sales team didn’t need an order processing solution. When we only dealt with a few vendors, we didn’t need a contract management solution. But as we continually expand — in terms of the customers, employees, products, industries and geographies we serve — we need more robust solutions to meet demands that pop up in all corners of our organization.

Whether it’s our accounting department processing purchase orders, our facilities team preparing workspaces for new employees, or even our onsite daycare center managing teacher certifications, our growing business constantly encounters new challenges that demand specific solutions. Often, the requirements of these solutions fall outside the practical capabilities of our core systems.

The “Build Versus Buy” dilemma

Now, if we had to create all of these purpose-built solutions from scratch, that would be a nightmare. Custom coding would take an enormous amount of resources. We’d spend much of our development time building the foundational elements of each solution — the security features, the administrative tools, the import and export functionality and the integrations with applications like Outlook. And then we’d need to support and maintain a growing list of custom-coded applications.

On the other hand, if we went out and procured different, vendor-supplied applications to serve these specific departmental needs, that would be a nightmare, too. With a pre-canned application, if the functionality you need is there, it’s there. If it’s not, it’s not. There might be some configurability, but your ability to customize the solution is limited. Furthermore, adding dozens of disparate applications that don’t talk to each other would only create more headaches when it comes to integration and transparency.

Forrester describes this scenario as the “Build versus Buy” dilemma. Fortunately, there’s a better option.

The value of rapid application development

With a low-code, rapid application development platform, an organization can quickly create solutions to address an array of business needs — and then efficiently maintain those solutions. This type of platform gives you the advantage of being able to build something specific to your needs without having to fully custom-code it. You can build these incredibly versatile solutions on a common foundation that’s backed by one database and has the security, auditability, configurability and scalability you need from your enterprise applications.

As so many Hyland customers have discovered for themselves, OnBase is particularly well suited for this purpose.

In a blog post about the benefits of using OnBase for rapid application development, Julie Bruckert at the University of Notre Dame had a great way of putting it: “We were able to build a 14-story skyscraper in the time it would have taken us to build a condo with [custom code].”

How Hyland uses OnBase

We’re currently running more than 175 OnBase solutions to address everything from invoice approvals to office supply requests, with another 25 projects in the pipeline. We’ve long used OnBase as our document management system to keep track of critical financial and HR records. And we’ve long relied on OnBase Workflow-based solutions to manage highly structured processes like order processing.

More recently, we’ve come to rely on the OnBase WorkView module as the centerpiece of our rapid application development projects. Many of our newer solutions (65 and counting) leverage WorkView on the front end to collect and provide visibility into information, paired with Workflow on the back-end to manage processes, along with frequently-used OnBase tools like import processors and Outlook integration.

An “Aha Moment”

Hyland’s love affair with WorkView resulted from an epiphany. Luke Steiner, who manages our internal applications team, was a driving force behind the conceptual shift that took place a few years back.

Some of the Workflow solutions we were building had large data components, collected via electronic forms, that mimicked the functionality of what WorkView does natively. After Luke and the team went through our WorkView training, they had this “Aha moment” where they realized that they could build the complex Workflow solutions they were developing much easier using WorkView, which has the flexibility to tackle less-structured processes.

In a few inspired whiteboard sessions, they sketched out dozens of ideas for using the tool. Because they didn’t have to carefully define routing for each step, they could quickly roll out a minimum viable product and, with user input, refine the solution over time.

WorkView gave them a degree of agility they didn’t have before. Since then, they’ve used it to address classic, case management scenarios — such as managing IT requests — as well as to build more complex, data-centric applications. For instance, they built a conference planning solution that enables our CommunityLIVE team to schedule presenters, approve session descriptions and sync data with Cvent, our event management software.

Because its dashboards and filters help users visualize information in different ways, WorkView can provide useful insights into data and processes. Our IT team uses a WorkView solution to track the status of hardware assets (like loaner laptops) across the organization. We’ve even built an internal WorkView application to keep track of our internal Workview applications!

How we triage technology needs

The possibilities for OnBase as a low-code, rapid application development platform are truly endless. But that doesn’t mean we use it to tackle every technology need that arises. In each instance, we triage the situation to determine whether to solve it using OnBase or another one of our core systems (Salesforce) versus developing a totally custom application or purchasing a third-party solution.

Typically, the business stakeholder will bring their issue to their department’s IT business analyst, who will sniff out the complexity of the problem and, if necessary, bring it to Luke’s internal applications team. We try to use our core systems first before employing any custom development. OnBase is the first thought, then other core platforms, then custom development, then purchasing something.

If for some reason there’s a presentation layer that OnBase or another of our core systems can’t fulfill, then we might have to build a totally custom application. But that’s rare. Sometimes, we’ll build an OnBase solution to augment the functionality of an existing system, which is what we did to better manage time-off requests in our previous HRIS [human resources information system], ADP. Or, we’ll go out and buy a third-party tool, which is what we did for an employee recruiting tool, iCims.

In instances where we decide to build a solution using OnBase, the turnaround time can be very fast. If we’re building a standard case management solution, initial discovery and build can be as short as a few days.

A more complex project can take a few months, typically involving a solution engineer, an IT business analyst and a project manager. And then, once we’ve built the solution, we regularly check in with the people who use them to ensure they’re working properly and to make any necessary tweaks.

Driving digital transformation

Biased as I am, I can honestly say that using OnBase as our low-code, rapid application development platform plays a vital role in Hyland’s ongoing digital transformation. It allows us to digitize more and more areas of our business without the burdens of maintaining custom code or constantly procuring niche solutions. It makes us more efficient as a team and more responsive to our customers.

In other words, drinking our own champagne makes Hyland a better business.

Related resources

To learn more, check out these resources:

Stephen Watt

Stephen Watt

Stephen Watt has worked in the information technology field for more than 20 years. Since joining Hyland in 2004, he has served the IS department in several key roles. He spent a majority of his time with a focus on infrastructure systems, processes, and policies. As an infrastructure manager he played a key role in the deployment of new technologies that have supported Hyland’s explosive growth. In 2016, he took on additional responsibility of managing Hyland’s internal security team responsible for protecting Hyland’s information systems. In 2017, he was promoted to the position of Vice President of Information Systems. His years of experience in the information technology field and deep understanding of the business challenges facing Hyland ensures the organization is well supported to drive forward its strategic goals. He received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from Case Western Reserve University.

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