“Well, when it comes down to me against a situation,
I don’t like the situation to win.”
-Secret Agent Angust MacGyver
Who can forget that campy but somewhat addictive television show of the late ’80s known as MacGyver – when the brainy lead character seemed to always avoid disaster with quick, creative thinking and a bit of duct tape. With all the recent bank talk about the need to improve efficiency through streamlined processes and the proliferation of powerful new workflow systems, a critical new role is emerging … the Workflow MacGyver. The Workflow MacGyver can take his knowledge of business and technology to solve complex business problems with a combination of native system functionality, along with the document types and index values in his handy ECM system. To use a nearly-lame MacGyver analogy, document types and indexes are a lot like duct tape and a Swiss Army knife. If need be, a smart banker can use them to jerry-rig just about anything.
Most banks have invested in imaging systems, known today as enterprise content management, or “ECM,” but few organizations have adequately leveraged the potential of these systems. I have visited a number of clients recently that have been imaging for years now but aren’t taking their systems to the next level to really get the benefit from all that work of imaging. A bank only gets out of the system what it puts into it. For example, if a bank waits until a loan is booked to image it, the organization only gets a much quicker filing cabinet to access the loan. If the bank captures documents as they are created and received, it can leverage the system to do some of those manual tasks such as emailing to follow up, going through checklists to ensure required documents are received, and routing documents for review to a specialist to name a few. This is where the Workflow MacGyver shines. What are those document types and index values the system needs to ensure that it only requires end user input when it truly adds value to the process? Then how will the system use these for different activities to meet the needs of the business?
Bottom line – Workflow MacGyvers are problem solvers. They can see the current business process, hear the needs of the users, and quickly create a solution with the tools at hand. With all the configurable functionality built into systems today, very little custom code should be required to meet the business’s needs. Every best practice ECM bank has one thing in common: one or more Workflow MacGyvers. It is preferable to have more than one to support a system of checks and balances in regard to design and unit testing, as well as to ensure continuity if one MacGyver leaves for Budapest to race against KGB agents. After all, your bank isn’t the only one with problems to solve and solutions to be built.
In many organizations, an ECM system was implemented to meet a specific need. After the initial install, no one expanded upon its use, and now it’s forgotten, outdated, and its capabilities are not fully understood. No one in the organization is looking at this tool set to see what else it can do and to develop it. I’ve heard a lot of clients say their ECM is (pardon my French) “crap” when they have a state-of-the-art system. It’s not the system but how it is set up; if it doesn’t meet the business needs, then yes – it is crap. Those best practice ECM banks have developed a solid foundation with the business including: classification scheme, metadata, and capture processes.
Once this type of foundation is built, Workflow MacGyvers can work with the business areas to develop workflows, configuring the workflows to do more for the areas leveraging it now and configuring more functionality between business areas. A couple of good Workflow MacGyvers can quickly help the business be prepared to take on more volume and more complex work.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a severe drought of workflow administrators. Many companies are looking to hire, but there aren’t many out there who have the exact skills, knowledge and abilities. In fact, all of the banks and credit unions I visited in 2011 have talked about recently hiring or planning to hire a workflow administrator (of OnBase, Synergy, AppXtender, etc.). I’ve also received several inquiries from recruiters to hire me. By the way, no thank you, I’ve got a job I enjoy. In this drought, what can organizations do? Organizations must identify and develop talent for the workflow administrator role, aka the Workflow MacGyver.
There aren’t a lot of professional Workflow MacGyvers out there today, but the business needs them now, and more of them in the future. They are hard to hire, especially with industry knowledge and specific familiarity with a bank’s systems environment. Now is the time to start identifying potential MacGyvers and start building their knowledge base. Who has the potential of being a Workflow MacGyver? Anyone that is a resourceful problem solver that can take business needs, match them to system capabilities and develop a solution that meets the objectives and requirements. They also need to be an effective communicator as typically they are working with the business to identify their needs and to communicate back on how the system will meet their needs. I think the following roles are good candidates and could easily transition into the Workflow MacGyver role:
Seeing some common themes here? No matter the reporting structure, the Workflow MacGyver will work very closely with both the business and IT. That is a very critical factor in the success of a program. With the configurable nature of many systems, administration duties can be put into the business’s hands but only if the business follows proven development lifecycle methodology and partners with IT to follow these basic steps:
There should be reviews with the business and sign-offs at each step and a trail of documentation along the way to create meaningful business improvements.
There’s great debate over whether this role can be fulfilled by someone within IT or by someone elsewhere in the business. The most successful workflow admins I’ve encountered are either very business oriented IT people or very IT-ish business people. Because of the configurable nature of workflow solutions, the development lifecycle is much more rapid than traditional IT development, and therefore it is possible to utilize the same person for business analysis as actual design and development.
Now that we’ve discussed what they do and potential candidates, here are some ways for them to develop the skills they need and to become master of their duct tape and Swiss Army knife and all they are capable of doing with their system.
With the need for stronger efficiencies, the investment in Workflow MacGyvers is essentially a slam dunk return on investment. A few simple changes can often save a business area a lot of time and improve process quality. So, GonzoBankers, go forth and start developing the MacGyvers!
Cornerstone Advisors’ Imaging and Workflow Automation Services are designed to improve an organization’s enterprise content management capabilities and turn cumbersome and diverse information repositories into dynamic sources of business insight.