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

BPM Case Study: Bufetat Safeguards Children with K2-Based Processes

BPM and Case Management

Case Management System Speeds Up Delivery of Urgent Services

This is a great example of K2 BPM Case Management being leveraged to manage correspondence, documentation and overall case work.

“K2 helps us to work efficiently and provide urgent help for children in desperate need of accommodation, protection and support.”

Magne Tiegen, senior IT advisor, Bufetat.

Bufetat is a government agency in Norway that is the Office for Children, Youth and Family affairs.   They are responsible for child welfare and family counseling throughout the country.  They have over 5600 case workers processing over 7500 documents per month, and blackpearl has provided a consistent, standardized approach to managing cases, and enhance visibility on the overall process.

The full case study can be read here:  Bufetat Case Management and BPM



The CIO’s Quandry: Build, Buy or BPM?

Benefits of BPM over Custom Development

Choosing the Right Application Strategy Path

I have the privilege just about every day to be involved in one of the most complex decisions on the IT Strategy front:

What is the most effective way for our organization to introduce new applications or rebuild old ones?

These discussions are always bound by key options:

  1. Build a custom application.
  2. Buy an off the shelf commercial application.
  3. Buy a BPM/BPA Suite.
  4. A hybrid approach.

My position gives me the unique advantage of being an “outside” observer, and seeing how each choice is viewed.  Along with gaining insight into the minds of IT professionals, and how they view the application landscape, I also make a conscious effort to identify what works and what doesn’t (historically).   Below is a summary of my experience, and a compilation of opinions on each option.


Ah, the custom application.  The promised land, everything you want, built exactly to requirements ;).  My favorite CIO quote in my time in BPM is: “I am so tired of being a custom software development house.”  The Build option has historically been the de facto path to meeting the exact business needs of a desired application, and truly tailoring functionality.  But building comes with unique resource requirements, longer timelines, and rigid change management that prevents agility.  Add in the standard requirement of Line of Business (LOB) System integration, and even small applications can require large teams with diverse skill sets to deliver.  For this reason, many organizations leverage 3rd party partners to help with development, which adds to overall project complexity.  The benefit?  If managed correctly, you get exactly what you want.  Some great info on Build vs Buy here:  Build Versus Buy Whitepaper


Whether its Safety, HR, Accounting, or any other core business function, there are focused commercial applications to meet business needs.  Most of these applications will meet about 80% of an organization’s requirements, but what I find is that missing 20% is the true gold.  Many applications offer APIs to extend and add functionality, but this requires custom development or hiring the 3rd party’s services team to extend.  I am seeing more and more organizations that are trying to get their app “bloat” under control, and reduce the number of niche applications in use by their business.  There are some key questions to ask when evaluating focused apps:

  • How easy is it to integrate with my LOBs?  Code or configuration?
  • Is the system overkill for what we are trying to accomplish?
  • How difficult is it to administer?  Will I require certified staff?
  • What is missing and what will it cost to extend and maintain?

I find many organizations “settle” when it comes to off the shelf applications, and adjust their business to the application.  The key benefit, in most cases, is you get up and running quite quickly, and can glean advantages and ROI without waiting for dev or build time.


The Business Process Management/Business Process Application suites are just about always in the mix, but I find there is always some deep education required on capabilities.  There is quite often core resistance to them, especially from the development teams.  No/Low Code platforms can be perceived as a threat, but smart dev managers see them as powerful tools that can lead to reduced delivery time, increased agility and quite frankly, a driver for accomplishing more with less.  The benefits are shorter dev times, agility when it comes to modifying the applications, and creating process centric applications that map to the business.  These platforms have evolved into a true “swiss army knife” of IT, and can be used as a plugin to provide solutions around all types of requirements.  More on No/Low Code here:  No/Low Code Platforms


The hybrid approach seems to be quite common, and many of the inquiries I see today involve organizations looking for BPM/BPA platforms to round out their existing inventory.  Maybe they have a custom dev project where they need a workflow engine, or a data integration layer, and see the platform as a way to provide core capabilities.  Perhaps they purchased an off the shelf app, and need to extend it, or wrap it with a more capable forms or reporting engine.  To see how a hybrid strategy including BPM/BPA can impact an organization, see this post:  BPM Benefits  The true benefit of this hybrid strategy is that you can have all the benefits of the core BPM engine, and use extended capabilities through the APIs to add value to other existing apps or projects.

Just a quick overview of App Strategy observations.  Comments?





Cool BPM Case Study: Aviation + Healthcare

Digital BPM in Healthcare

Managing flight schedules with BPM

I always like to share unique case studies that show how BPM can be utilized for just about any business problem.  See below:

CareFlight is an Australian aero-medical retrieval service and charity, established in 1986. CareFlight’s mission is to save lives, speed recovery and serve the community by providing the highest standard of rapid response critical care. Using a medically configured fleet of 14 rotary and fixed wing aircraft, CareFlight brings hospital-level care to the seriously ill and injured.

CareFlight looked long and hard for a solution to fix inefficiencies in their business, and ran across K2 at a Microsoft Conference and was immediately sold.

“Once he [C3 Manager] saw what was possible with K2, he was sold instantly,” Hoani said.

The first solution built was an aircraft tasking application for the CareFlight Coordination Centre (C3). Before K2, this aviation process was manually intensive. Now, the flow of information and data capture is far faster and much smoother.

To read the full case study, go here:  CareFlight BPM Automation with K2


5 Great BPM Articles on

BPM Resources

BPM, Low Code Platforms, Mobile Process, Strategy and More

CIO Magazine Online has some great assets on BPM, with a broad ranging set of articles covering all types of topics.   Here are 5 posts everyone should read if you are in the market for BPM solutions, or just want to stay current on the topic:

Why BPM is Broken  – A quick glance at the “pre-active” process, and the importance of agility in Business Process Management.

Low-code Business Apps vs. Traditional BPM – a look at the latest no/low code trend, and how it is disrupting the BPM market.

Delivering Mobile Process Efficiency – a look at the mobile evolution, and the impact on process and how work gets done.

BPM, Strategy and Agility –  A look at why “Speed is King” in the modern BPM era.

Paper, Process and Business Apps – Taking a peek at traditional business process, and the impact of new technologies and Business App Platforms.





Notes From The Field: Beyond SharePoint Workflow

Beyond SharePoint Workflow

What Companies Look For As A Next Step In Their BPM Journey

As I continue to work with customers and prospects, I find some common ground in those looking to expand beyond SharePoint Workflow and Forms (And those products that rely on the underlying engine) .   There is definitely a BPM journey that organizations seem to take, regardless of whether they realize they have embarked.  This journey almost always leads to expanding beyond the confines of SharePoint, as well as a deepening need for more complex capabilities.    Here are some of the common trends I see in organizations looking to take their business process management to the next step:

  • The Requirement for Complex Workflow Patterns (With No Code) – simple serial workflows can only take you so far, and organizations quickly realize that rework steps, and moving to previous steps in any process is an absolute necessity in common business flow.  Having a BPM platform that integrates with SharePoint lists and libraries, and provides support for all types of workflow patterns can provide immense value, and eliminate the need for complex custom code and management of state.
Complex Workflow in SharePoint
Rework Should Not = Custom Code
  • Wanting Reusable, Shared Data Layer and Simple LOB Data Access – Accessing external data in SharePoint can be challenging, and I find many companies are looking to simplify the integration with external business systems.  The tiresome process of setting up Business Connectivity Services/External Lists in SharePoint, and maintaining them can be problematic.   A reusable model, as seen in K2’s smartobjects, can provide agility and reduce the overall time required to configure forms, workflow and reports.  The “create once” and reuse theme provides power and flexibility.
SharePoint External System Integration with Data
Simple, Visual Data Integration Tools
  • The Need to Surface Forms and Workflows Outside of SharePoint – SharePoint is a great tool, but should every form and workflow live  within its UI?  More and more, I am seeing organizations that want to have business apps (forms, workflow, data and reports) that live outside of SharePoint and can stand alone.  This is especially true when it comes to mobility, and the need to support various device types with web-based forms.
Supporting SharePoint access through mobile devices
Support for Mobile
  • The Need for A Broad Set of Design Tools – BPM in any organization is a broad undertaking, and usually involves a wide variety of individuals, with varying skill sets.  With Business Process Design, one size does not fit all, and organizations are looking to support power users, business analysts and developers.  See my post: BPA, BPM and Design.

So, in summary, if you are looking to step outside of the SharePoint workflow engine and its forms capabilities, take some time to evaluate your next step in the journey and focus on at least these 4 points.   For some additional considerations, see the below post:

10 Key Features In 3rd Party SharePoint Solutions

Comments?  Thoughts?

Forrester Report: Revenue, Customers and BPM

Forrester BPM Report-Revenue and Customers Shape Process Excellence

Revenue And Customers Shape The New Business Case For Process Excellence

This new Forrester report by Clay Richardson  focuses on the re-framing of Business Process Management (BPM) initiatives for not only internal process improvement, but also focusing enterprise architects on:

  • Accelerating customer acquisition and revenue
  • Protecting current business opportunities and revenue
  • Increasing up sell/cross-sell abilities

This ties into my previous post which gave an overview of the trends in BYOA and Customer Facing Apps.   The full report can be downloaded here:

Forrester: Revenue And Customers Shape The New Business Case For Process Excellence

Process Automation Gauge: How Many Processes?

How much process automation

Poll Of 500 Executives: How Much of Your Workflow is Automated?

Process Automation for Business
Just how automated are your processes?

This Cognizant poll was very interesting, and see the below stats:

  • Execs believe 25-40% of their processes are automated
  • 50%+ believe that business process automation will have a significant impact on business operations within the next 3-5 years.
  • 1/5 reported greater than 15% cost savings through process automation.
  • Banking and Healthcare led the way in cost savings through automation.

To see the full article, click here:  Intelligent Process Automation – The Study

More info on process automation: BPM and BPA Software



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?