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EPC by Function:
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Maximize Process Visibility and Improve Strategic Decision-Making

EPC DashboardsMost business people can relate to the fact that infrequently deployed company procedures can create confusion when they are undocumented or vaguely defined. Bigger problems arise when this lack of clarity extends across the organization to everyday processes or those critical to profitability. As these are activities that are performed dozens of times a day, the monetary impact of even small inefficiencies can accumulate and hurt your bottom line.

As you map your processes with the EPC, you graphically depict business activities in detailed process maps that allow you to identify and resolve process gaps and redundancies. The EPC’s Business Intelligence and reporting capabilities further enhance strategic decision-making by allowing Management to pinpoint opportunities for improvement. EPC Workflow tracks process performance and displays the results in scheduled and customizable reports, allowing managers to determine if, for instance, a particular process should be outsourced.

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Define Roles and Responsibilities

EPC RACIIn many organizations, roles and responsibilities are defined only in general terms; while employees have titles with associated job descriptions, there are significant inconsistencies in their duties across time. This lack of clear definition causes problems when tasks are duplicated or missed because there is uncertainty as to where the responsibility lies. When no one – or when too many people – are accountable for an activity, blame for mistakes gets shifted from person to person, and the underlying issues are left unresolved.

The EPC uses the RACI (Responsible / Accountable / Consulted / Informed) framework to set ownership for business activities down to the task level and eliminate the inefficiencies caused by unclear roles and responsibilities. At least one individual, identified by his/her role, must be assigned to each task as Responsible for its completion and ongoing improvement. Additional employees may be identified as Accountable, Consulted, or Informed, clearly delineating the role that each individual plays in the completion of the task.

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Increase Employee Satisfaction

With the EPC, mapping company processes helps eliminate inefficiencies, and automating processes can eliminate the need for many of the tedious, repetitive manual tasks (such as data entry) that most employees would prefer to avoid. Aside from reducing the risk of error, automating human-centric processes allows you to better utilize your human resources for genuinely value-adding activities, minimizing opportunity costs and boosting morale by ensuring that employees feel that they are contributing to company operations.

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Enhance Knowledge Retention and Organizational Learning

EPC KnowledgeConsiderable costs associated with knowledge retention and transmission are incurred as human resources join, leave, and move around in an organization. Increasingly, many companies are already struggling to cope with employee turnover as the “baby boom” generation begins to retire. Organizations risk losing undocumented tacit knowledge as growing numbers of experienced employees leave, taking their skills and expertise with them.

The EPC allows you to formalize information and tacit knowledge. By defining your company’s roles, resources, business rules, processes, and even the organization itself, the EPC transforms “know-how” and internalized information into a structured map of your business operations and up-to-date and fully indexed SOPs. With the EPC, documented processes can then be automated, and the knowledge is embedded in the organization and is both flexible and transferable as the firm evolves. Furthermore, the EPC allows you to attach supplementary information such as user-guides, SOPs, and videos to specific tasks within a mapped process, indicating what information is necessary to complete that task, and allowing those responsible to walk themselves through it. You can generate your company’s process documentation automatically, standardizing your training materials and drastically reducing the employee learning curve.

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Focus on the Customer with a Value-Stream Approach

EPC FlatmapOvercoming departmental silos is an important challenge for large companies. Too often, functional units operate in a state of semi-isolation, causing the organization to lose sight of its most important stakeholder: the customer. For instance, a sales department may successfully implement procedures expressly designed to meet lofty sales targets, but, without considering the relationships between departments, the orders might never be fulfilled due to internal miscommunications, supply-chain backlogs, or accounting oversights.

The EPC allows you to achieve an end-to-end, cross-functional understanding of your operations and shift the focus back onto the customer. With the EPC, you can view the cross-functional process hierarchies by creating linkages between departmental processes that capture the ways in which they generate value for the customer and profits for the organization. Furthermore, by automating your processes with the EPC, you can embed the value-stream flow within your organization by integrating the IT systems used to manage departmental activities and mechanizing information flows through human-centric processes with the EPC’s PDF e-Forms. With the EPC, you manage your processes from end to end, putting the focus back on the client to increase customer satisfaction and revenues.

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Promote Standardization

As large companies turn to global expansion as a means of reaching new markets, “global” strategies diverge and can create fundamental inconsistencies between geographical divisions. While it is important for business operations to reflect the needs of the market, very often, maintaining a consistent baseline is a main concern for multinational corporations.

With the EPC, you can manage processes on a global scale, enforcing organizational culture and policies across divisions while maintaining separate EPC “sets” dedicated to each market. Another important challenge involves ensuring consistency between departments and divisions in order to facilitate internal communication. The EPC allows you to create “process references” in order to standardize frequently-used processes and simplify process maintenance. Importantly, you can easily transmit your standardized process documentation across the company’s departmental and geographic divisions – even those that have not yet deployed the EPC – with automated outputs (EPC Process Books). As EPC Process Books eliminate the need for manual SOP updates, easy maintenance allows for standardization throughout the organization.

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Improve Proactive Quality Assurance

As the competitive and regulatory environments in most industries intensify, firms of all sizes have to adapt quickly in order to meet increasingly stringent standards for quality. More recent approaches to quality management place increasing importance on process management, managing the end-to-end flow of activities required to bring a good or service from conception to end-use, rather than simply focusing on the final product. For instance, process-centric quality standards published by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization), such as ISO 9001:2008, have been adopted worldwide by many major organizations. Aside from the fact that many large purchasers now require their suppliers comply with ISO standards, studies have shown ISO 9001 certification can result in superior ROA and financial performance.

The EPC gives you the ability to embed real quality assurance in your processes by assigning preventive controls to individual tasks, making QA a business initiative, rather than a compliance issue for the inspectors. QA groups are often disconnected from business operations, causing excessive dependence on reactive testing and detective controls. By implementing controls directly on the process, the EPC facilitates a proactive stance to compliance with quality standards such as ISO 9000, and integrates your QA activities within day-to-day activities. Furthermore, the EPC takes BPM all the way to execution, so you can enforce compliance by automating processes with EPC Workflow; processes cannot be completed if standards are not met.

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Promote Organizational Flexibility

EPC Assign RoleThe EPC promotes organizational flexibility through its distinctive “object-oriented” repository. In the EPC, processes and all process-related information are centrally-managed as “objects.” Other BPM platforms manage process-related information as attributes (i.e. text fields) within individual processes; for instance, a process performer might be identified in a task description. In the EPC, objects are stored in separate libraries and can be linked by assigning one to another. For instance, Roles (“HR Manager” or “Accountant”) and Resources (“John Smith” or “Jane Doe”) are stored and managed independently of each other. “Cam Carroll” is defined as a Purchasing Agent in the EPC when she is linked to that Role. Promoting her to Director of Purchasing simply involves assigning her Resource to the new Role. Since EPC objects are managed centrally, you only need to make the change in one place; all affected processes will be updated automatically.

EPC Object RelationshipsThe same concept extends to far more complex management challenges, as well. Organizational Units (departments, divisions, branches) are also EPC objects, and the centralized repository allows for incredible flexibility when a company undergoes restructuring or is involved in a merger or acquisition. Like all EPC objects, Org. Units can be added, consolidated, merged, and otherwise moved around as your organization’s architecture evolves, and all affected processes will be updated automatically. Since the EPC’s cross-functional Swimlane views are also generated automatically, they will instantly reflect any change made to your organizational structure. While the projects themselves can be extremely complicated, in the EPC, the actual changes are made with one or two clicks of your mouse and the software’s intuitive drag-and-drop functionality. The object-oriented repository allows you to leverage existing processes across new or modified Org. Units to promote standardization and facilitate change.

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Promote Communication and Collaboration

EPC Discussion ForumIn many companies, one-way, top-down communication limits the extent to which the organization can foster a culture of continuous improvement. While is it important that an organization’s mission and strategies come from the top, it is equally important to establish two-way communication channels that allow for and encourage feedback from the bottom-up. In many cases, problematic processes are identified by the employees with the most direct experience with the individual tasks.

The EPC promotes a culture of continuous process improvement across the organization by facilitating communication at all levels. Discussion forums in the EPC’s Web Portal allow end-users to address concerns and raise questions about their processes, as well as contribute suggestions for process improvement. The EPC’s versioning capabilities and its check-in/check-out, library-like system allow your process modelers to collaborate within the EPC’s modeling environment, and that only the latest version of your material is published. At the same time, the ability to work in the same environment allows your modelers to reuse information to eliminate duplication. Changes made to processes or other objects in the EPC launch an approval cycle that automatically notifies process owners and approvers before changes can be published. All published EPC content is accessible to users via the Web Portal, and the EPC sends automatic e-mail notifications with direct URLs to the latest information to the appropriate stakeholders when processes, documents, and other objects are updated.

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