GDPR and Workflow: Using Microsoft Flow and Ephesoft for Discovery

GDPR OCR Documents

GDPR with Document OCR and Classification for Discovery

Organizations in the EU are scrambling to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that goes into effect in May 2018.  If you are not familiar, you can read an overview here:  GDPR Compliance Overview for Documents.  Below is a solution for document discovery using Microsoft Flow and Ephesoft Web Services to detect high risk documents.

 

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Webinar: The Ephesoft Effect: A Catalyst for Business Process Improvement & ROI

Process Capture improvement

We put together a webinar on high impact process improvement using Ephesoft technology.  Register here:

The Ephesoft Effect Webinar

 

 

Notes From the Field: Pet Insurance Claim Automation Solution

Capture, Workflow, ECM and ERP: Recipe for Automation

I had a great call with one of our customers the other day, a major pet insurance organization.   Keeping on my theme from my previous post (Capture+BPM: Pre, Midstream, Post), I wanted to share some details.  They have built an amazing solution to automate their inbound claims process.  Here is the lay of the land, pre-solution:

  • They provide pet insurance for their clients
  • Clients file claims that include invoices from vets, etc
  • They receive 6,000-8,000 claims per week.
  • Before the solution, everything was manual, received by fax, email and inbound paper mail
  • Data was being entered manually into their ERP
  • Documents were being saved manually, one-by-one into their ECM system
  • They have stringent regulatory SLAs for claim turnaround and response
  • New regulations required detail down to the line items on invoices filed for claims
  • It was taking 60-70 business days once a claim was received to process

Ah, the pain of manual processing.  Here is the teaser, after implementing the solution, they are now down to a 20 day turn around, and believe through further tuning they can get to 7.  So, they have taken the time to process down to a third or their pre-solution burden, and create an overall electronic system for claims processing.

Claims Workflow Queue
Processors Now Have a Digital Queue

The solution has made the process remarkably efficient, taking us from 70 days down to 20 to process a claim.

The Solution Architect

So, here are the components of the solution:

Ephesoft (Capture)Ephesoft’s intelligent document capture solution is used to capture and classify claims from inbound fax, email and paper files.  Through its advanced learning engine, it auto-identifies the type of document, splits multi-invoice PDFs, and then extracts the invoice information down to the line item data.  The documents and XML are then passed to the workflow engine.

extract claim data
Ephesoft Classifies and Extracts Inbound Invoice Data

There is quite a bit more that happens within the front-end capture.   This organization has enabled review and validation where they can actually review questionable documents before they get passed to the workflow.  This prevents bad data and documents from entering, and allows a checkpoint for insuring a complete claim package.  Rejected claims are passed back to the customer, with a note about what is required to complete the claim.

insurance claims validation
Ephesoft Automated Validation and Rejection of Claims

Finally, they have also implemented capture through Ephesoft web services.  Through a web portal, the customer can upload claim documents, and they are passed via web service to the capture engine to be classified and have data extracted.

document capture and OCR web services
Web Page Front-end For Ephesoft Web Services

You can learn more about web services for OCR and document capture here:  Web Services for OCR, Capture, Classification and Data Extraction

BPLogix (Workflow) – The Ephesoft data package is ingested into the BPLogix workflow engine, and then presented to claims processors for review and extensive validation.  With the new regulatory requirement on-line item invoice detail, this is a critical step.

workflow for claims
The Workflow Engine Receives the Extracted Data

Microsoft Dynamics AX (ERP)– once all the data is verified and validated, all the claim data is placed into the ERP for final processing and payment.

capture to dynamics
Ephesoft Data in AX

Alfresco (ECM) – Once all is complete, the claim documents are placed into their end resting place, and can be accessed at a later date if an issue arises, or there is a need for further review.

alfresco
Alfresco is The End Resting Place 

Great use of multiple technologies to automate a painful business problem.  Shows off the true value of document capture within workflow to add another dimension of process efficiency.  What do you think?  Any success stories to share?  Please comment.

Capture+BPM: Pre, Mid-Stream and Post

Document Capture Workflow

With the rise of Document Capture as a Platform (CaaP), there is an enormous opportunity for organizations to leverage the power of capture as an intelligent document automation component to any business process or workflow solution.  Here are the core use areas of document capture and automation with any Business Process Management System (BPMS):

  1. The “Pre” – The logical fit is to use document capture software to “feed the beast”, or in other terms, as a front-end processor for inbound documents destined for workflows.  You might ask, “Why?  My BPM/Workflow solution has the capability to import documents.”  Modern capture platforms add another dimension of automation through the use of several features like separation, document classification and automatic data extraction.  Imagine a mortgage banking process where a PDF document is sent inbound that houses  12 different document types in a single PDF file.  The power of capture is to auto-split the PDF, classify each document, extract information and then pass all of that in a neatly formatted packages to the workflow engine.   Now, the workflow has a second dimension of intelligence, and it can use that to branch, route and execute.  Platforms like Ephesoft Enterprise have the ability to ingest documents from email, folders, legacy document management systems, fax and also legacy capture (like Kofax and Captiva).

2.  Mid-stream –  What about activities during the workflow?  Ones that are necessary mid-process?  This is where the true power of a “platform” comes into play, and it requires a web services API (See other requirements of a Capture Platform in this article: 6 Key Components of a Document Capture Platform).   Some examples of activities that can be accomplished through a capture platform API in workflow:

  • Value Extraction – pass the engine a document and return extracted information.
  • Read Barcodes – pass the engine an image, and read and return the value of a barcode.
  • Classify a Document – pass a document and identify what it is
  • Create OCR – pass a non-searchable PDF and return a searchable file.

As you can imagine, this can provide extreme customization in any process that requires document automation, and can reduce end-user input, create added efficiency, and once again add that second dimension of intelligence after the workflow has begun.  You can see an extensive list of API operations here: Document Capture API Guide

3.  The “Post” – Depending on the process and requirements, a “post-process” capture may be in order.  Most capture platforms have extensive integrations with 3rd party ECM systems like SharePoint, Filebound and Onbase, and can be leveraged as an integration point to these systems.  In addition, there is a new wave in the big data and analytics world, with a focus on data contained within documents.   Routing documents and data to analytics repositories can help organizations glean important insight into their operations.   If you choose a capture platform with a tied-in document analytics component, this can be accomplished automatically.

Well, just a few thoughts on integrating capture with workflow/BPM.  Thoughts?  Did I miss anything?

Quick Brief Video: No Code Platform Critical Facets

No Low Code Application Platform

6 Key Facets for Maximum Benefit with No Code Platforms

 

Rebuilding Legacy Apps: 6 No-code Must Haves

replacing lotus notes and mainframe applications

Replacing Legacy Apps (Mainframe Apps, Lotus Notes, Custom) with No Code Platforms

Many organizations are looking to give a face lift or do a full replacement on their legacy applications.  This can be a daunting task, especially when confronted with the costs for a full rewrite.  I am seeing more and more organizations using low/no code platforms to accelerate the process, reduce costs and leverage existing data assets.  When looking at no code, there are some key requirements, “must haves”, and below is a quick list:

Adaptable Data and Integration Layer – providing no-code integration with an existing set of data is a critical requirement.  You should have a broad set of existing integrations that you can leverage immediately to jump-start your project.  An example?  Last month we worked with a large law firm looking to replace a custom built set of applications to run their firm.  All the data was housed in SQL, and they leverage several tables and stored procedures.  With smartobject technology, the integration was point and shoot, with the table structure and SPs being auto-discovered and available in the designer immediately.   Want to move the data to a newer line of business system?  Having a selection of SQL, Oracle, DB2, and many others can help you rebuild or redesign a data layer quickly.

Data Integration Software
Smartobject Integration Layer

Flexible Web-based UI – With the broad range of devices workers leverage today to complete tasks, applications need to work on desktops/laptops, phones and tablets.  Building an app that can span all these devices can be challenging.  Leveraging a platform that can provide a responsive, modern web-based foundation can eliminate work, and the requirement to build separate UI for each independent device.  The UI needs to be standalone, and able to deliver without a dependent technology.

Mobile Apps No Code
Mobile Adaptability is Key

UI Rules Engine – the ability to build rules based on form or user interface actions can help with automating data entry, provide seamless integration with line of business systems, and create a dynamic, responsive user experience.  In addition, this can be key in mobile development where managing the limited real estate with regards to screen size and usability is paramount.  The ability to do all of this without code can save days or weeks from build time.  This functionality can also deliver validation,  and prevent the entry of bad data.  An example would be a triggered data pull from multiple back-end systems when a  field is toggled.

Rules for web forms
Dynamic Form-based Rules

Business Logic Process Engine – having an engine behind the scenes that can coordinate the flow of information, control human to system interaction and perform process automation is a critical facet.  Some key items here include: automatic assignment of actions based on directory hierarchy (Active Directory/LDAP), “flow” based rules to control branching, and complex workflow pattern capability.  Example: the automatic routing of an inbound referral based on a specific UI field.

Business Process Rules Engine
Control Flow with Rules

Reporting/Dashboard Components – pre-built reporting components that tap into specific app data and process information can accelerate the process of gleaning insight from application activities and events.  Typically, these components are just easily accessible modules within the web UI, and can be instantly added via the design interface.  In addition, support for embedding 3rd party reports is necessary to facilitate and all in one report experience.

Application Reporting Dashboards
Pre-built Reporting Controls

Complete SDK – no matter how many features you add to a “no-code” platform, there are still requirements for the extension of the platform.  A framework for extending the UI, the data layer and process engine are required, as well as a well-formed method for tapping into these using custom code, or other applications.

SDK for bpm
Extensible No Code Platform

Just a quick set of “must haves” when looking at platforms to rebuild you legacy apps.  Thoughts?

Top 5 HR: Processes Every HR Department Should Automate

Solving Top HR Concerns with BPM

As companies grow and look to attract and retain top talent, automating the people side of the business becomes top priority.  Improving your critical HR processes can help you drive digital initiatives and help transform your organization.   The right technology can drive efficiency, and allow more time for critical activities.

In world-class organizations, technology spend per HR FTE is higher (nearly 80%) due to greater use of process automation. These organizations are able to service 59% more employees per FTE and allow HR staff to devote more time to talent and business performance-related activities.

Unfortunately, HR leaders are faced with a broad set of challenges, as outlined below:

  1. Inability to integrate and adapt –  The average HR system is 5 years old, and can create challenges when looking to expand or integrate with other line of business systems.
  2. Prioritization – manual, inefficient paper-based processes have become a massive time sump, and pull attention away from more critical HR functions.
  3. Lack of knowledgeable resources – with IT project backlog, many departments are forced to take on more and more administrative responsibilities for their systems.  Keeping resources trained can be a key challenge.
  4. Difficulty in justifying new spend – HR departments have often found it difficult to justify new systems or additional IT spend.
  5. Adjusting for improvement – building business and tech requirements to drive excellence.
HR Business Process Management
HR Process Challenges

So, what are the key processes for HR to automate?  See the list below:

  1. Employee on-boarding and off-boarding – these processes are complex and cross-departmental.   Forms, IT accounts, payroll, facilities and more all need to be involved, and getting employees operation in short order is critical.
  2. Performance reviews – managing the performance review process can be difficult, and creating a standardized workflow and framework can lead to enhanced records management, timely promotions and a more productive workforce.
  3. Payroll processing – automating everything from expense reimburse to time tracking and management, digital process can insure minimal errors and timely payment.
  4. Recruiting and new hires – creating a digital workflow for interviewing and recruiting can lead to shorter approval times, and the timely on-boarding of top recruits.
  5. Policy management – reviewing and revising policies can be a pain, and the update process can be daunting.  Digital workflow can manage versions and changes, and make the process flow smoothly.

Want more information?  See the links below:

Free Book on HR Process Efficiency

HR BPM Top 5 Infographic

Full K2 Human Resources Information Page

Top 5 Finance: Processes Every Accounting Department Should Automate

Accounting Finance Workflows

Solving Top CFO Concerns with BPM

One of our partners, Protiviti, conducted a fantastic survey on “2016 Finance Priorities”.  The report is laden with some great information on what CEOs and CFOs deem important within the finance function.  Here is one of the key action items that came out of the study:

Action Item for Finance Leaders: Look for improvements and investments in people, process and technology that can result in greater speed, accuracy and efficiency within financial consolidation and close activities.

So why speed, accuracy and efficiency?  To understand, below is an outline of the top concerns for financial leaders:

  1. Improving Margins and Earnings Performance – Optimizing resources and the ability to better manage costs is a top concern.
  2. Cyber Security Risks – Managing and protesting financial data and controlling access to the ERP/Financial Systems.
  3. Strategic Planning – Creating streamlined predictable, standardized processes for planning.
  4. Periodic Forecasting – The ability to surface data from all systems of record.
  5. Budgeting – Using data for improved budgeting and decisions.
top bpm uses for accounting
Improving margins, cyber security, strategic planning, forecasting and budgeting are top concerns.

In these key concern areas, the demand for speed and accuracy continues to mount, and expectations grow without the increases in staff and budget.  So, implementing technology solutions to help is key for success, and helps to alleviate concerns.  So what are the top finance processes ripe for automation? Here are the top 5 processes:

  1.  Expense processing – providing an automated, rules-based process for submitting and approving expenses can provide a standardized, repeatable reporting mechanism for projections.
  2. Invoice Processing – with the majority of invoices still in paper form, automating AP is a key to faster payment (read early pay discounts), reduction in data errors and reduction in processing time.  Using an AP Automation tool like Ephesoft Transact for Invoice Scan and Capture can feed any BPM process.
  3. Capex Approvals – moving away from emailed spreadsheets in the CapEx process, and utilizing a managed digital workflow can provide insight, improved transparency and reporting capabilities.
  4. Budgeting – providing a collaborative, social environment for budgeting can lead to enhanced accuracy, and reduce departmental shortfalls.
  5. Internal Audits – simplified reporting and “visual” report tools can help smooth out the audit process, and reduce staff time required to comply with demands.

Want to read more?  See the links below:

K2 BPM and Workflow for Finance: Information and Transformation Page

Protiviti Finance Report

Notes from the Field: Solving the Plague of Windows

Application Overload for End Users

I have been seeing a trend in requests from IT and business users to solve a critical issue in most organizations: The Plague of Windows.  We have all seen it, and definitely experienced it.  How many application windows do you need to have open to get your work done during the day?  Are you copying and pasting, flipping back and forth between apps?  Entering data multiple times, in multiple applications?  Referencing data in one app to accomplish a task in another?  So I asked myself, why now?  Why has this started to become a critical issue?  Below are the reasons as I see them:

  • The rise of cloud based Software as a Service (SaaS) – platforms like Salesforce, Workday, Box, Dropbox, Office 365 and others have revolutionized the way we conduct our daily work lives, and given us anywhere access to our information.  Unfortunately, when it comes to integrating them with on premise apps, getting them to talk to each other, and sharing data and UI information is absolutely painful.  In essence, we have complicated the always present application “silo” issue, and required heavy custom development for true integration.  Most organizations avoid the pain, or create difficult to manage one-off apps to solve niche problems.
  • Niche/specialty applications are on the rise – every day, I am involved in discussions with IT management and execs that are pondering the ever-present issue in the IT landscape – Do I buy the specialty app for my problem?  The burgeoning start-up ecosystem has created amazing applications that fix focused issues.  Want to provide field inspectors with an inspection tool?  Need to create and manage CapEx requests?  Looking for expense management?  There are specific apps for all those key areas, but when you buy them, you create another silo, another set of data, and another barrier to dissolve.
  • The plethora of data – Ok, there is my $20 word 😉  We have more data today available to us than ever before.  Organizations are leveraging reports and information from all systems to make informed decisions, create strategy and just get there work done.  Access to this data is usually accomplished through the system of record, or through, yet another, application for reporting.

So how do we fix this?  The first step is to solve the data problem, which requires a data integration bus technology (An example is K2’s smartobject layer) .   This can facilitate the creation of this “data foundation”, providing access to all your systems .   Once we have access to the information, now we need a consolidated, dynamic UI to surface the data to the end-user.  This unified interface provides all the necessary information at-a-glance, eliminating the plague or windows, and improving productivity and adding immense efficiency.

Below is a quick video overview of how K2 “no code” technology can solve these app aggregation issues:

BPA Platform Value: The During (Part II)

BPA ROI and Value

Direct and Indirect Benefits from No/Low-code Platforms

This is part II of a series on the value, benefits and ROI of Business Process Application platforms, and the first post can be found here: BPA Platform Value – The Before.

In the previous post, we discussed the advantages to using a low/no-code platform to deliver apps faster to business users, and reduce the IT backlog.  Once the apps get into production, there is a huge impact on business performance, and this is where typical value is associated with efficiency and productivity.   There are two types of benefits that are provided in this phase, direct and indirect.  Below is a summary of both:

Direct and Measurable Benefits of BPA/BPM

  • IMPROVEMENTS IN EFFICIENCY AND PRODUCTIVITY
  • REDUCTION IN REWORK, ERRORS AND PROCESS FAILURE (QUALITY IMPROVEMENT)
  • REDUCTION IN REQUIRED STAFFING THROUGH AUTOMATION AND PROCESS TUNING
  • RISK MITIGATION
  • INSIGHT FOR CONTINUOUS PROCESS IMPROVEMENT AND ANALYSIS

Indirect Benefits of BPA/BPM

  • CENTRALIZED CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT OF ALL BUSINESS PROCESSES
  • ENHANCED COMPLIANCE
  • SIMPLIFIED AND CENTRALIZED AUDIT CAPABILITIES
  • IMPROVED COLLABORATION
  • GREATER ALIGNMENT OF IT WITH BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS
Return on investment for BPM
Examples of BPM/BPA ROI

In the above image, there are a few examples of some hard numbers on savings through process efficiency.  You can read more here:  BPM/BPA Case Studies.