This chapter defined the Management layer, which is what most closely relates to your organization's business process. The workflow application is the center piece of this layer. The application you build for your dynamic publishing solution provides your business users with the ability to update and manage your company web site in a timely and efficient manner. We touched on the basic requirements for when you should build an application like this. It is important to keep asking yourself and your co-workers, "How can I improve cost effectiveness with more efficient business and technical processes in my company?" Finding the most critical areas of your organization that need process improvement and decreased IT spending is important to your success with building automated business processes.
The biggest challenges of building a workflow solution are getting your business to envision how this can benefit your organization and bringing the employees up to speed on a common terminology that should be used to define roles and tasks. Start with the basics. Educate your business to the basic roles of author, editor, and approver. Then build off of those basic roles and fit them to your organization. Walk through the daily manual process of how a piece of content is created, edited, and approved. Look for the inefficiencies in the current process and exploit them with an automated design model to bring cost savings and process improvements. Teach your business new ways to approach their business process and, by comparing the manual process, show an elimination of steps and improvements with automated tasks. Use business-familiar infrastructure tools like email to compliment your workflow application.
Most importantly, make sure the application you build to support the business process is intuitive and easy to use. Over-complicating the application does not win business acceptance, and users are less likely to use it effectively. Also consider taking advantage of "out of the box" solutions, such as Lotus Notes workflow components. It might not be necessary to build from scratch if requirements and your supporting technology allow for using a vendor workflow solution.
The ROI for building a workflow application can be seen on two fronts:
Increased business efficiency and performance. Improving, streamlining, and automating tasks proves less redundancy, less mistakes, and more productivity to your supporting business environment.
Cutting out IT processes after the solution is built. The IT staff focuses more on building these types of automated solutions and less time on managing static HTML templates. This increases site stability and consistency by automating the way that content is published.
The automated business process also enforces categorization and consistent input from a business user that results in better site structure, searches, and dynamic navigation. Creating a workflow application results in better business processes, technology resource efficiency, and a web site that meets or exceeds customer expectations for fresh content and usability.