Workflow Management Software: Build, Buy or Both?
If there’s anything that can kill a person’s enthusiasm with surgical precision it’s unbroken stretches of routine work sustained over long periods of time. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the bulk of process inefficiencies reported among companies today arise from repetitive tasks being executed manually.
If you’re a business owner, imagine making double orders for the same equipment when one is all you need, or losing a deal because of documentation errors, or being denied certification from the regulatory body that monitors your industry because of late or insufficient data submissions. The list can go ad infinitum if you think about it.
As you’ve probably already observed, for almost every productivity issue hounding modern-day individuals or companies today, there’s a corresponding software solution. In this case, for repetitive tasks in a process workflow, there’s workflow management software.
Workflow Management: Pre-Made or Custom Built?
One question foremost in the minds of business owners is: Is a workflow management software really necessary?
This question arises partly because they already have tools like CRM, MS Outlook, MS SharePoint, etc. What becomes of their already-generated data once the new software is implemented? Can the software support API so they won’t have to ditch their existing systems? If they decide to implement one, how steep is the learning curve, if any? Can modifications be made at a later date, such as when the workflow needs to be altered because of an update to end-product specifications?
These are all valid questions. At the end of the day, if the pros outweigh the cons, what it boils down to is whether to buy a ready made product or go with a scratch-built solution developed internally.
Building Your Own Software
Building your own workflow management software gives you full control over the software’s functionalities. You can build a program that’s tailored to your specific business needs, and since you own the code, software support is performed by your IT department. You may even choose to commercialize the software, particularly if it proves to be valuable.
Disadvantages to building your own software include the need for highly qualified IT personnel, and the possibility of losing software functionality in the event of staff turnover, poor programming or malicious code.
Buying Pre-Made Software
Buying pre-made workflow management software from reputable vendors usually gives you a well-researched application. You can buy pre-made HR or finance management software that can work well with very little or zero customization. Also, you get support, upgrades and functionalities that are not dependent on the depth of your own internal IT department.
Then again, pre-made software can be restricting, especially if the business has specialized needs, which oftentimes compels companies to continue doing their stuff manually or force the software to work despite long hours of training, not to mention the time and effort required to input much-needed company data.
For specific workflow management procedures that are unsupported by the vendor, you may need to resort to either employing highly-skilled IT staff to tweak the data according to your defined protocols or making costly upfront payments for the vendor to customize the software for you.
Pre-Made Software that You Can Customize
And then there’s getting the best of both worlds. Some workflow management solutions, like Comindware Tracker, carry pre-made business templates that you can easily customize. You get software support, product updates and upgrades just like most pre-made software. Perhaps more importantly, you get to tweak the software accordingly, whether or not you have previous coding experience to your name.
Dealing with repetitive work doesn’t have to be a creativity-stifling exercise. If software implementation is the productivity route you intend to take, choosing the right one is critical. Shop around, determine exactly what you need, and take advantage of free trials just so you know what you’re getting into.