We recently designed a cloud-based workflow management solution for a depositary firm in London, who needed something completely bespoke to their working processes. The main driver for the piece of work was to bring efficiencies to the business, but we quickly realised that there were other benefits, which weren’t as immediately obvious, which would help the client to justify their investment much faster than they’d anticipated. In my opinion, the key benefits of a cloud-based workflow management are as follows:
1. Automating workflow = saving time + driving efficiencies
Financial services firms are no longer making huge profit margins and commissions, and are always looking for ways to trim costs and make the business more profitable. By automating back office functions and particularly workflow, firms can save time, which equals saving money. Workflow management solutions can ensure that tasks are fulfilled by the people with the appropriate skills for the job, freeing up decision making time at a senior level, and minimising the effort of chasing up tasks. Senior members of the team can instantly check the progress or status of an item, at a granular level, but also allows them to take a higher level view of the process. This allows the workflow to be tweaked if bottlenecks or problems are identified.
2. Automate reporting
The finance sector and other highly regulated sectors have a huge number of mandatory reports to run. If your software can automate reports for you, this is a very valuable feature. If reports can be generated to show who is doing what and when the next task is likely to be accomplished, this is not only a useful tool for monitoring activity, forecasting and improving efficiencies, it can also be used to inform clients and investors.
3. Build in best practice and meet compliance requirements
Regulatory reform and a requirement for greater transparency mean that finance firms are facing more complexity than ever before. Firms are turning to digital solutions to help meet these requirements, ensure compliance and drive business forward whilst not falling foul of the regulators. Workflow solutions should do their best to ensure that best practice is adhered to, but ideally, systems should define and guide processes without constraining them. Every firm is different, and their workflow management solution should aid and assist in their specific workflow, not stand in the way. Bespoke solutions are a great option, as they are designed to meet the specific needs of your firm, and your workflow patterns.
4. Drive employee behaviour
Workflow management software can enable you to analyse and improve employee performance with task and time management, escalations and alerts. It can allow you to automate your company’s internal procedures using the built-in workflow processes and internal company policies. In addition, you are able to enforce company policies through electronic forms, checklists, questionnaires, audit trails, escalations and alerts.
5. Grow with your business
Cloud workflow management solutions are cost-effective, easy to scale up or down, and offer employees the flexibility of working on a variety of devices and locations. Remote workers or virtual teams can easily use a cloud based workflow management system and additional users can be added easily. Cloud systems ensure the latest patches have been installed by the vendor, and that software version control is kept up to date.
Workflow management can reap great benefits for financial services firms, but it needs to be flexible enough to meet your specific and unique needs as a business. Find a reliable partner to co-design your solution and ensure that you can change it if your business needs change.