Join K2 and DocuSign in Irvine, CA

Digital Signatures and the Law

Driving Digital Business with Electronic Signatures

Join K2, DocuSign and Microsoft for a Breakfast Seminar at the Microsoft Technology Center in Irvine, CA.

This informative event will consist of three unique 45-minute sessions covering legality issues, integration points within the context of business process management, as well as showcase a live demonstration of these capabilities.

Session 1: Understanding the Legality of eSignatures

Presenter: Damon Mino, JD, Director Legal Industry, DocuSign

Overview:  Are you aware of the legalities of esignatures?  In this session, Damon Mino from DocuSign’s Legal practice will provide a background on DocuSign’s eSignature technology, and outline the legalities of digital documents that are electronically signed.  In addition, he will also provide key considerations in any eSignature implementation, including enforceability through identity and document security.

Session 2:  BPM and Electronic Signatures: Keys to Efficient Digital Processes

Presenter: Stephen Boals, Business Development Manager, K2

Overview:  How can you streamline the people side of digital processes?  Stephen Boals from K2 will provide an overview of the key components to any electronic signature process.  In addition, he will present the benefits of business process management and K2’s integration with DocuSign for added automation, efficiency, data integration and reporting.

Session 3:  K2+Docusign Process Showcase

Presenter: Melissa Layupan, Technical Specialist, K2

Overview: See K2 and DocuSign together in action.  This demo will show how you can leverage electronic signatures seamlessly through the use of K2 Business Process Applications.

EVENT INFORMATION

When:  March 30th, 2016  8:30-11:00 am PST

Where: Microsoft Technology Center, 3 Irvine Plaza #1600, Irvine, CA 92614

Details: We will provide breakfast and validate parking at the MTC.

Limited seats, Register here:

K2 and DocuSign Breakfast Seminar

 

 

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What is Workflow Software?

Just what is workflow?

Workflow: Just What Does It Mean?

Ah, workflow.  Walk into any office today, and ask for a definition, and you will get a myriad of responses.  Blank stares.  Long dissertations.  It gets even fuzzier when you cross between business and technical folks.  So to get a level set, here is Wikipedia’s definition of workflow:

Workflow defined
The Definition of Workflow

Wow, that’s a mouthful.  So, to make it even more complex in the software world, there is a sea of acronyms and terms (see past post BPM Alphabet Soup ) surrounding applications that encompass workflow, as well as other technical functions.

So let’s get simple.  Workflow, in the physical world, is just the way we get work done.  The means to an end, or the path to a successful business activity outcome.  In the past, that would have been:

  1. Bob fills out the paper order form.
  2. He drops it in the sales order inbox at HQ.
  3. The order is manually routed to Joe, the sales manager for review.
  4. Joe give it to John the mail clerk to take down to fulfillment.
  5. And on and on.

But the most important part today, in our technical world, is the interface between people and technology to facilitate new and efficient business processes.  So with that said, in the modern workflow application, there are typically 4 pillars:

  1. Digital Forms – the paper form has now been replaced by a smartform, or intelligent user interface (UI).  The UI is now dynamic, and is used in many cases to kick off the whole workflow process.
  2. Process or Workflow Engine – the engine facilitates the movement of tasks and information throughout the organization.  It is the “digital mail clerk” and much more.  Notifying, delivering and controlling the entire work process from start to finish.
  3. Data – the modern organization now houses its information in digital systems, most focused on specific areas.  This is the foundation layer on which all workflow occurs, and stores the information required to facilitate a successful process (An example of this data layer is K2’s patented smartobject for workflow and digital forms).
  4. Reports – As work is being completed, information about the process is made available in the form of reports.  It is this insight that provides the ability to incrementally improve process or the flow of work.

Thoughts?  Additions?  Comments?

 

 

6 eGuides for Every Law Firm Looking to Automate

Creating a digital law firm

Assets for Law Firms:  Business Process Management

Creating a digital law firm comes with many challenges, and resources are difficult to find that are succinct and to the point.  I have aggregated 6 eGuides focused on partners, IT and architects in firms.  Below is the set of resources.

Law Firm Partner Series

The first series of eGuides is devoted to partners, with a focus on profitability, building client relationships and conflict management.  See the links below:

The Digital Law Firm: Paper to Profitability

Digital Legal Strategies: Staff and Clients

Law Firm IT Series

Information Technology in any firm is tasked with managing a vast plethora of tools.  From various case management apps, to financials, reporting and Microsoft apps, building an infrastructure that is all tied together is a major challenge.  Below are some great eGuides to help with the BPM/BPA journey:

Legal IT: Building Agility Into Your Strategy

Legal IT: Automating Your Firm With BPM

Law Firm Solutions/Application Architect Series

Finding a solution that can provide for all a firm’s requirements, and remain flexible is a core challenge for any technical architect.  Below are some great resources for gathering information and support for new solutions:

Legal Solutions Architects: Gathering Requirements for Digital Change Management

Legal Solutions: Gaining Senior Management Commitment

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of Business Process: Paper to Platform

Business Process Evolution

What would Darwin say about business process?

Transforming a business and its processes is always a challenge, and like anything else over time, process management and the flow of work has evolved.  It’s a balance between cost and benefit, pain and efficiency.  And every business has a complete and total mix of how they get work done.  Paper is still ubiquitous in the business world, as are what I call “Franken-processes”, or those that are a combination of paper, Excel, email correspondence and anything else that might be at hand.  Many drive their critical processes with custom applications, and the lucky ones have fully evolved, and implemented app platforms to drive speed and flexibility.  In this post, I will provide an analysis of the 3 key process solutions:  Paper, Custom Apps and App Platform.

So, as a primer, every process can be evaluated on 4 key axes: Degree of Automation, Scalability, Flexibility and Speed to Implement.  Below is a quick overview of the evolution of business process.

 

Paper-based

Paperless process with workflow and forms
Paper is fast to implement, but inefficient  (Image from K2 Whitepaper “It’s a BYOA World”)

 

Paper processes have been part of business process forever, and it is still a pervasive medium for transactions and the flow of work.  Paper forms and documents flow through businesses every day, exchanging hands, passing through in boxes and out boxes, being copied, placed in folders, and ultimately ending up in a file cabinet as a permanent record.  To evaluate paper on our 4 axes, it is quite fast to implement, and can be somewhat flexible.  Just create a form in Word or Excel, kill some trees through the printing/copying process and distribute.   But we all know that processing paper is painful, and about as far from automated as you can get.   Many organizations attempt to add automation to the mix through scanning and capture, but layering of processes just creates complexity, and decreases the ability to scale.  See the chart above for a visual representation of paper process, the lowest on the evolutionary chain.

Custom Applications

Replace custom apps with no code platforms
Custom apps great for automation, but slow to implement. (Image from K2 Whitepaper “It’s a BYOA World”)

For many organizations, the only option, or next step in the evolution of process is the custom-built application, focused on automating a core set of processes critical to the business.  Custom apps can be a powerful technical transformation tool, and although the benefits can be huge, there are some key draw backs.  Using our axes, you can see the prime benefit is automation (as shown above).  But due to the long cycle times for development and updates, plus the requirement to grow and expand features overtime,  custom apps can be a core constrictor on flexibility and adaptability.  In this day and age, custom apps and all their draw backs are becoming and unacceptable way to automate business and drive process, and are just far too costly.

“Traditional mobile-app development typically costs at least $250K and takes more than 6 months for a single app”

Kevin Benedict, Mind the Gap

Business Apps Platform

No code for data, forms, workflow and reports.
No code platforms are the best of all worlds (Image from K2 Whitepaper “It’s a BYOA World”)

Evolution in and of itself, is a process of growth, formation and change based on environmental factors, and the current apex in business process technology is the Business Process Application (BPA) platform.  Built for speed, automation and flexibility, the BPA platform provides a broad reach on all the axes of evaluation (as shown above), and allows agility through a no/low code foundation.

“In the age of the customer, everything runs as quickly as customers and markets – and software delivery must keep up.”
Forrester

With IT departments struggling with the demands of the business for applications, the market and customer requirements have driven the evolution of BPAs.   With delivery time being reduced by a factor of 3-10x, and beneficial cost reduction, forward-looking CIOs are quickly adapting the platform-based approach to transform the way they automate and deliver applications, workflows, forms and reports.   Below are some great links to more information:

Forrester Report on Low/No Code Platforms

Business Process Apps – No Low Code Webinar

 

 

Top 4 Reasons To Make The Move From IBM Lotus Notes

Notes replacement and migration

Migrating Away From Lotus Notes

More and more organizations are choosing to migrate from Lotus Notes and Domino, and move to a more robust, flexible platform.  Below are the 4 top reasons to move away from Lotus Notes and optimize your business applications:

  1. Efficiently build and rebuild your applications – the development cycle in Notes is notoriously long, and plagued with hard to find resources.  Gravitating towards a no-code application platform can alleviate the timing issue, and put power in the hands of non-developers.
  2. Leverage existing investments – crossing silos in IT infrastructure is required for efficient business process, and leveraging infrastructure and investment in enterprise line of business apps is a necessity.  Access to Microsoft systems, as well as SAP, Salesforce and other systems of record is a must.
  3. Manage applications from start to finish – the ability to provide insight to application and process has become a standard for efficiency and maximum productivity.  Reports and data need to be easily accessible and readily shared.
  4. Agility and Change – building the monolithic app that takes years to assemble and months to modify can no longer be an operating mode.  Business must quickly adapt to markets and customers, and take advantage of all the benefits of rapid change.

Additional articles here:

Migrating Off Lotus Notes

Just How Much Does an App Cost?

Want to learn more?  See the online guide to Lotus Notes replacement here:

Lotus Notes Migration and Replacement Whitepaper

 

 

BPA Case Study: Contract Management Solution: $216K per Year in Savings

Contract Management in SharePoint

SharePoint Real Estate Contract Management Solution

Management of real estate requires a great deal of documentation for its leaseholders.
With multiple contracts, reports, notices, bills and other documentation to produce
quickly every day, this real estate management company needed to find a way to take control
of the flow of information, and enable their property managers to be more efficient,
and more effective in a highly competitive marketplace.

It just so happens that combining SharePoint with Workflows, Forms and Reports created a powerful solution.

“We estimate we’re saving 240 hours a month of staff time in producing, tracking, approving and routing our documents. That’s about $216,000 a year in savings to the company,”
the Manager of Collaboration and Productivity says.

 

Read all about it here:  SharePoint and K2 Workflow, Forms and Reports for Real Estate Contract Management

Is Your BPM Vendor Right for You? 4 Key Focus Areas

BPM Vendor Checklist

When evaluating a Business Process Management (BPM) / Business Process Applications (BPA) platform how do you pick through the fluff, and really evaluate a vendor for what they bring to the table?  In an evaluation, they will all show some great technology, and many slides of logos and company success.  But here are four focus areas for evaluating vendors that can really mean success or failure in the BPM realm.

Risk Mitigation

Ah, the large IT project.  Or dare I say minefield?  Any technical project that revolves around critical business process is laden with risk, and there are some key high risk areas in the BPM realm.  So let’s take a quick look at some key areas that can mitigate your project risk when evaluating these types of technology:

What is the integration story?  One of the most time-consuming portions of an enterprise project can be the integration with existing systems.  You will routinely hear “Oh yeah, we can do that”, from BPM sales folks when in discussions about integration and data.   The top BPM vendors have a solid integration framework that requires NO CODE, and provide out of the box links into core business systems (MS SQL, Oracle, Salesforce, SharePoint, Windows Active Directory, Exchange, etc) through configuration.  Make sure you take a deep look here, and demand to see how it works.

Does the technology match your internal skill set?   It happens.  At some point in the BPM journey, you will require some type of customization, it is just inevitable.  Maybe a small tweak here, some custom code there.  So take a look at your BPM vendor’s core technology.  The top vendors fall into one of two categories today: Microsoft or Java.  Are you a Microsoft shop, with developers that can utilize C# and .Net?  Or do you Java?  Having to bring in outside resources can really impact your project, so make sure the tech is a match.

Is the product NO CODE or CODE, CODE, CODE?  There are some really powerful BPM products on the market, but many of them are just frameworks.  Any time you step out of the box, they require customization and dev time.  There are others that have a core theme of avoiding code, and focusing on configuration through deep feature sets.  Obviously, the less code required, the faster you can roll out your solution and start realizing gains.  Make sure you look at your requirements, and really hash out what can be accomplished without the need for custom code.

The Foundation for Digital Business

Typically, organizations seek BPM/BPA platforms for a specific use case, and to solve a core pain point.  They can be so focused on today’s problems that they don’t look beyond the initial project.  Really, when you make an investment in the platform, you are building a foundation for all future process initiatives.  So here are some key focus areas, and questions to ask:

Does the technology support reuse?  One of the core advantages of many BPM platforms is a focus on reuse.  Data, Views, Reports and Forms can all be placed in a library for reuse later.  An example might be a data connection that brings back employee information from Active Directory and places it into a form section or view. This is a common form/workflow bit of information that can be reused over and over.  With each project, more and more of these reusable components are built, and can be leveraged for follow on projects.  Dig deep into the vendor’s reuse story in all 4 pillars of the BPM tool set: Data, Forms, Workflow and Reports.

Does the vendor have application accelerators or templates?  Reinventing the wheel is not fun, and in many case just not necessary.  Your vendor should have a core set of basic business application templates to drive value and a quick return on your investment.  Below are some of the most common use cases that should be included:

  • Leave requests
  • Expense claims
  • Travel requests
  • Ad hoc Tasking
  • Incident Management
  • New Idea Submission/Process Improvement

Are cloud services supported?  You may not be in the cloud today, but in time, at least some portion of your business will be in the ether.  Make sure there is support from a data perspective for basic services, like Microsoft’s Office 365 and Azure, as well as services like Salesforce.  In addition, definitely examine the vendor’s story around web services integration.

Agility and Flexibility

One of the core benefits of any BPM product should be agility, but what is your definition of agile?  And how do  you know if you are?  Here are some key questions for making sure your vendor will drive agility through their BPM technology:

Who can design and build business applications?  Opening up your BPA world beyond developers and IT can have a serious impact on business efficiency, and put the power into your department personnel’s hands.  But is the technology suited for doing that?  Really it comes down to what design interfaces are available, and who can use them.  Take a deep look at what is available from a process desinger perspective.  Here is an article with more information on this topic:  BPM Design Interface Requirements and Personas

Out of the box, what type of process insight do I have?  One of the core benefits of any BPM/BPA tool is process insight.  Viewing a set of real-time processes in motion can let you identify bottlenecks and make changes real-time, providing the ultimate in flexibility and agility.  Make sure there are visual process analysis tools available to all.

Is the NO CODE theme pervasive?  Ok, I know I am beating a dead horse on this one, but avoiding technical debt in your BPM tool is so critical to remaining agile and flexible, and should always be a core tenet.

People Focus

We often over-evaluate the technical aspects of our desired solution, it is just the nature of technologists, but one area that is most often overlooked is your BPM vendor’s story around people.   Technology works…any vendor can prove that, but people are an extremely important element of any project in all phases.  Below are some questions you should ask:

Does your vendor have a Center of Excellence (CoE)?  Taking the time and effort required to build a BPM/BPA CoE is a serious investment in the tie between technology and people.   It is a valuable component in the mapping out of your project, involving the right people in the process, and how to train your people for success.  I would not consider a vendor if they did not take the time and effort to build one.  Here is an example: BPM and BPA CoE

Does you vendor have an active and vibrant community online?  People love to share and help, and online communities are a true indicator of how your vendor views its customers, partners and employees: as a valuable resource.  Get an account on your vendors community, and see if it is thriving, or stagnant.  Was the last post from 2012?  Another great indicator of your vendor’s commitment to people.

Does you vendor use Condition of Success (CoS)?  Defining conditions of success beyond the project plan and technical aspects, but with a people focus is critical.  This is an exercise your vendor will perform that is a listening exercise, to align expectation across the board, and ensure the project stays on track.

Is there an investment in post sales support?  There absolutely needs to be a department within the company that supports the customer post sale.  I am not talking a sales rep, or a support line, but a specific and separate Customer Account Management team that does quarterly reviews with customers to make sure things are on track.

Just some questions to help in your BPM/BPA journey.  Thoughts?

 

 

 

 

The New BPM is ITPM: Is IT Missing the Boat?

IT and BPM

4 Ways the Gears of IT Can Benefit From BPM and Business Apps

The technical landscape in organizations is getting more and more complex every day.  So I ask myself over and over: Why are most IT departments not standardizing on Business Process Management/Applications to standardize, automate and track their processes?  If you take a look at any technical department, it is usually “Franken-apped”, with tons of different applications used for provisioning of accounts, management of systems, cloud management, and on and on.  So how can IT utilize the very systems they seek for their business counterparts for their own good?  Here is a list of some compelling BPM/BPA uses within IT:

  1. Auto-provisioning of Cloud Resources –  With the cloud in the forefront of every CIO’s mind, managing resources out in the ether can be a challenge.  The ability to manage starts, restarts, shutdowns, snapshots and other cloud based resource activities can be time consuming and lack audit and reporting facets.  In steps a Business App with a dynamic form as an interface, and powerful workflow with business rules behind it.  Below is a screen shot of just such an app we use internally: VM and Cloud WOrkflow and Management
  2. Auto-provisioning of Accounts, Groups and Email – New employee on-boarding is now a snap with all IT tasks being initiated by the hiring manager or HR.  Requests get routed through a workflow, and painful, repetitive tasks are now automated.   User leaving the organization?  How about automatically disabling the account and mailbox?   Through the use of this function, security standards and business rules can be implemented through an automated process, to ensure compliance, and audit all account management tasks.
  3. Security Process Management (SPM) – The latest network hardware or OS security vulnerability is released, and you need to initiate tasks to over 30 team members to quickly eliminate the “Day 0” threat, and secure your infrastructure.  As a manager, you are asked where you are in the process, and what has been completed?  Using a BPA to manage and control the process, your dashboard can give you a real-time view into the percentage complete, and any difficulties in completing the tasks can be quickly managed.
  4. Management of Line of Business Applications – One of the biggest challenges in IT today is creating the ability to “span” line of business applications.  BPAs can provide a powerful data connectivity layer that can be managed centrally, and without code.  Want to auto-create a SharePoint site for a new user, no problem.  How about a live feed of Salesforce information into a form to manage help desk tickets?  (More info on my previous post: 5 CIO Challenges)

Doing more with less has become the standard for IT, and automation is key to meeting daily requirements.  This is just a short list of areas in which IT can leverage BPA/BPM.  What are your thoughts?

SharePoint As A Catalyst For The Paperless Office

Digital Forms, Workflow and Build Your Own Applications

Forms, Workflow, Scanning and BPA

Presented this overview at SharePoint Saturday in Utah this past weekend.  Some good info on how to drive paperless transformation with 3 distinct technical phases: scanning, digital forms and workflow.  In the end, tie them all together by Building Your Own Apps (BYOA).

 

What’s Missing From Most Paperless Initiatives?

Paperless Office and BPM

A Phased Paperless Strategy for Success

The Paperless Office seems to be quite elusive for most organizations, and paper processes are still quite pervasive in most organizations.  Why is that?  It seems that predictions of paper’s demise have been around for a very long time.  There are many challenges, some of which are listed below:

  • The Tech Works, But It Is About People – people just love their paper.  For every project I have ever seen, there are some staunch holdouts.  The “Debbie Downers”.   Folks that just won’t give in, and this can be a serious challenge.
  • The “We are Paperless Tomorrow” Issue – the transition to a digital office needs to be slow and planned.  Large scale paperless initiatives always fail.  Small bites will provide the greatest opportunity for success.
  • Lack of Integration – Just buying 3 scanners at Office Depot, and plopping them on desks will not create a paperless environment.  Software is required to facilitate automation, and integrate with existing systems.
  • A Long Term, Phased Strategy – An office with minimal paper can only be achieved through some serious planning, and a phased approach.

So now that we have established some of the common challenges, lets talk about the 3 key phases of any paper eliminating initiative.

  1. Scan/Capture – preventing paper from flowing into your organization requires that you build a policy surrounding key entry points of this efficiency killer.  Most notably, the mail room, key employees and printers.  Examine your processes, and identify the point of origination, and shoot to automate those input points.  Implement scan and capture technologies to kill the paper before it can enter your organization.  Focus on eliminating printed paper that becomes part of any process, and put a keen eye on employee functions where paper is generated.
  2. Implement a BPM/Workflow Solution – We all know that paper processes are extremely inefficient.  What better time to focus on process improvement and monitoring than during the transition to digital.  Along with digitizing the routing, approvals and other pieces of your process, you can now leverage reporting and intelligence within Business Process Management (BPM) suites to improve both efficiency and productivity.  Want to see the difference between workfow and BPM?  See our article here: Workflow vs. Business Process Management
  3. Implement Digital Forms – Now it is time to take on any existing sources of paperwork that lie within your organization.  Creating digital forms, backed by a workflow/BPM solution, will now eliminate a huge source of inefficiency from your organization.

With this phased strategy, you can reduce your paper burden, and create a productive, efficient environment.  Thoughts?  Did I miss anything?