Posted Tue May 21, 2013 by Joel Ramkhelawan
Over the years, automation of business processes has become more and more common. More often than not, organizations dive into automation hoping that, by itself, will improve performance, reduce costs, and ensure quality. While those are attainable goals, they are rarely achieved. The reason for this lack of results is often related to a single painful issue: Automating inefficient, outdated processes produces automated inefficiency.
Many process automation efforts are driven by information technology personnel who simply are not familiar with business needs and their history. This is particularly true for developing countries’ governmental institutions, which oversee processes that were originally based on paper forms and are often plagued by numerous controls and validations.
As an early step in planning the Guatemala Ministry of Health and Social Assistance’s implementation of iHRIS Manage, we identified contracts processing as a key process. We decided to automate this process as a case study for training Ministry staff to administer the software.
The initial step was to develop a use case, a list of steps that the developers could follow to implement the process. We first analyzed the current processes for managing contracts and then discussed them with key personnel from the Contracts Department. The existing process flow called for the contract files to move back and forth between departments after completing minor milestones.
Something caught our attention right away: Each contract needed to be verified repetitively as the file moved from one department to the next. It was explained that those verifications ensured that files remained complete during transitions between stages. If an automated contract handling process was implemented, however, those verifications were not going to be needed anymore.
In conjunction with Contracts personnel, we designed a simplified and more streamlined process that relied heavily on information already handled by iHRIS Manage. The new process requires less handling of actual paper files; only the final contract and the Ministry’s resolution had to be printed. Those documents would then be scanned and added to the contractor’s record in iHRIS Manage.
The Contracts Module in iHRIS Manage is expected to dramatically reduce the time it takes to process a contract, from four months to less than a week, while reducing the risk of missing or damaged files by removing paper files from the procedure. This should also reduce errors and costs, since files no longer have to travel back and forth multiple times between departments.
By incorporating basic process optimization analysis, we can provide added value to any iHRIS implementation efforts. The Contracts Module will be implemented with the iHRIS Manage system for the Guatemala Ministry of Health and Social Assistance.