Use Case: business process integration with a workflow platform
Rapid growth, mergers, acquisitions and new products always create complications and difficulties in daily work. This article will explain how you can streamline your business processes with a workflow platform without giving up existing solutions, causing downtimes or incurring huge costs. We will use an example of a project we completed for a leading insurance company.
Multiple systems. The root of the problem
Do you feel like neither you nor your team enjoy working with your in-house software? Are you tired of having to navigate distributed applications, switch between systems, perform repetitive tasks and lose loads of time on reporting (because there are so many apps you need to use)? You are not alone: many companies struggle with duplicate processes distributed across multiple systems.
Duplicate processes hinder your everyday work, incur high maintenance costs and make it more difficult to automate business process or deploy new products.
Duplicate business processes. The most common causes:
- Mergers and consolidations. Organisations merge their business but each brings in its own baggage of IT solutions.
- New products within legacy systems. Large companies with many years of market experience often already have legacy systems in place. Outdated software means that large investments of time and money will be needed to introduce even the smallest modification. As a result, companies that want to expand their portfolio often decide to bet on new systems designed from scratch for new products.
- Multiple companies in a group. Especially if they have a similar profile and their own IT systems.
- Quick organisation growth. New initiatives mean new systems, which may duplicate some existing processes.
What do all these cases have in common? In a growing IT environment, the functional scope often overlaps, which means you have more systems to develop and maintain. On the other hand, you also need to invest more effort to use it at all, as employees need to click through and switch between systems all the time.
How to streamline work with many applications?
The problem of duplicate business processes distributed across multiple systems can be solved in two ways: you can build a new, dedicated solution from scratch or deploy software that will achieve:
- Automating multi-component business processes;
- Increasing work efficiency. Optimising and minimising costs by making better use of work time;
- Monitoring and management. Improving data quality and the functioning of linked business processes.
- Ensuring uniform data access. Consistent access to data distributed inside and outside the organisation from a single system;
- Optimising efficiency. Employees no longer need to switch between systems. They can access various data from a single application;
- Providing real-time access. Current data, updated in real-time, without delays.
- Streamlining business processes. One coherent platform to optimise and streamline processes;
- Tracking progress. Monitoring work progress from one solution;
- Ensuring scalability;
- Enabling process visualisation.
Use Case: customer service
To make things even easier to understand, let us look at a real-life example of one of our clients, a large insurance society that struggled with a complicated and time-intensive customer service process.
What was the project about?
Whenever a customer contacted the company with a problem, e.g. if they wanted to file a claim report or change their data, an employee had to switch between different systems in order to be able to handle the case. An additional difficulty came from the fact that in order to find the necessary customer data, they had to know in which system and where to look in the first place.
Our client looked to streamline their customer service process and hired us to find a solution that would allow employees to use only one system to access customer data, manage their cases and perform different actions (such as, e.g. dispatching the case to the claims adjuster, underwriter or other people in different departments).
Of course, the process was complicated and burdensome not just for employees, but also for customers, who found it unnecessarily drawn-out and often had to explain their case time after time to different employees. For the IT team, too, managing such a complicated environment was very costly and time-intensive.
As we said before, one solution was to create a single system. But let’s be honest: that would have been a long and time-consuming process. In this particular case, migrating all the information that the insurance company had collected over its nearly 30 years in business seemed like an utter impossibility. Our client simply could not afford it.
The solution we proposed was much simpler in business terms, albeit technically quite complex. We deployed a workflow platform which, at the initial project stage, was integrated with legacy domain systems. The platform quickly addressed client needs and soon began to deliver value. The organisation could continue to deliver products and services to its customers without any interruptions and we achieved our first goal.
We also introduced an optimisation that allowed employees to be closer to customers: spend more time with them and understand their needs so as to boost sales and improve the outcomes of their contacts and conversations. How did that happen? The image below shows how our interventions reshaped customer service at the company:
Communication with the system occurs via a single platform, which is integrated with other applications, transmitting and retrieving data from different domain systems.
From the long-term perspective, the workflow system comes fitted with all the tools necessary to not just develop other systems, but replace all legacy business apps step by step. Ultimately, this approach will boost effectiveness throughout the company, help organise tasks, and streamline reporting. It will also allow the costs of infrastructure maintenance, licensing costs and space for additional servers to be optimised.
Workflow systems. Short-term and long-term advantages
The elements designed to optimise or streamline processes partly overlap in the short-term and long-term perspective. Some can be addressed almost immediately and then regularly developed to maximise the advantages of having a single workflow platform integrated with multiple domain systems.
- Easier management and reporting;
- Greater efficiency/shorter task and case turnaround times;
- Quicker value delivery – increased sales;
- Task cost optimisation.
- Scalability. Development from a single solution. Employees working with a single solution develop a better grasp of the system; they are able to create recommendations and use their knowledge to further streamline business processes. Based on their recommendations, the IT department can continue to upgrade the software.
- Lower maintenance costs. Phasing out domain systems means lower maintenance and licensing costs for systems, databases and infrastructure.
- Easier integration. Integration with one system rather than multiple solutions.
- Improved quality and security. You only need to secure one system and safeguard one environment.
- Higher operational effectiveness. Access to data and reports from a single platform. Reports can be downloaded much more easily; you no longer need to retrieve data from a distributed application environment. This means you can deliver information much faster, both at the management and the employee level.
- Faster onboarding. New employees need to handle just one system, rather than multiple solutions, which means they take much less time to learn the ropes.
Why deploy a workflow system? Benefits in figures
For the purposes of presenting the benefits of workflow systems in figures, let’s imagine two hypothetical employees:
What is the difference in customer service provided by Jacek and Tomek? Look below to check our estimates:
As you can see, Tomek can save c. 7 minutes per customer because some of his tasks have already been automated by the platform. This might not sound very revolutionary at first, but let’s translate that into costs.
In our example, we used the mean wages of a Corporate Client Advisor in the Insurance Industry, as listed in: Hays Poland, Pay Report 2023. Annual savings of PLN 37 440 (approximately 8 610,41 euros) per each employee in a similar role can add up to a rather hefty sum!
Planning app environment integration with a workflow platform
We hope this article will give you an idea of how to get ready for integrating a complex IT environment with the aid of a workflow system to optimise the daily work of your people. Below you will find 10 aspects that can make business app integration not just a remote possibility, but a feasible project worth deploying in your organisation.
- Identify and assess areas in need of optimisation. To begin with, assess which processes or areas in your organisation are especially ineffective.
- Set goals. What do you want to achieve? What is the status quo and what is your target situation?
- Choose strategy. You need to pick your technology, deployment partner and project methodology. These are the foundations that will pave the way for business process digitisation and lasting digital transformation.
- Plan. Prepare your schedule, prioritise processes and integrations. Identify the tasks that will take the longest and may potentially affect business continuity.
- Implement. Start implementation tasks and create new business value within your organisation.
- Test and optimise. Identify additional areas that can be optimised (but which are often impossible to detect at earlier stages).
- Document. Carefully document the new added business value in the form of applications and new processes.
- Train users. Train key users in your organisation so that they can later serve as mentors for current and future employees.
- Monitor. Monitor the environment. Detect bottlenecks created during app deployment. Look for more areas of optimisation. Talk with system users to get an idea how you can further improve the solution.
- Develop. Use all the above elements to repeat the process: this is where we go back to square one and start afresh.
Of course, at this stage, you will already be working out just minor details or areas you have not included in your initial plan. The process should continue so that your organisation can look for further opportunities to speed up the delivery of value to customers, optimise customer service costs and improve effectiveness.