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Process Makes Perfect

Tom Allanson

Today's Lesson, "Doing More With Less," Taught By Visalia School District

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At home and at work, people are being asked to do more with less these days, a trend that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The nation is slowly climbing out of a recession which means that business is picking-up for most companies, but not enough to instill the confidence it takes to hire more workers and invest in other resources.

With business slowly, but steadily increasing, and resources staying the same, you can either work longer and harder, or find ways to be more efficient. Given those two choices, efficiency will always be the best option, but where do you look first? Business processes.

Our friends at Visalia Unified School District in California are a great example, as reported earlier this year in THE Journal. They've implemented processes improvements that any business can learn from, and with a population of 27,000 (K-12) students and 25,000 employees at 44 educational sites, their challenges are just as great, perhaps greater than most businesses.

At Visalia, mounting budget cuts put pressure on Director of IT, Al Foytek, to improve processes and save money, without making any large IT investments. He identified inefficiencies in the district's administrative processes and built simple online forms and automated workflows for each process. One form alone, which routes orders to the district's print shop, is expected to save $10,000/year.

In total, Al and his team have identified 100 different processes that could be replaced with online, form-based processes. These automated processes save money on paper and supplies, but what's much more significant is the related labor savings.

Businesses trying to do the same thing should look for a tool with the following attributes:
1. A low price point.
2. Ability to be used for a wide range of applications (i.e HR functions, CRM, Finance tasks, etc..)
3. A visual editor that helps business users help themselves. As a result, it frees IT's time to focus on more critical tasks instead of building apps or responding to requests for changes.
4. Oversight of the entire environment so IT can let business users help themselves while maintaining control and the power to easily achieve more technical tasks (such as integration with other technical systems).

Doing more with less is the new normal. Organizations of all sizes, public or private, are under increasing pressure to be more efficient. If they don't, they'll simply burn-out their workforce, create an unhappy working environment, and doom themselves to failure.

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Tom Allanson of PerfectForms shares his ideas on managing business processes, automating workflows and designing for business users - both in the cloud and on the ground.

Tom Allanson

Tom Allanson, CEO of Perfect Forms, Inc., has over 19 years of experience leading teams and growing businesses and has held key executive roles at Intuit, General Electric, and H&R Block. Most recently the President of H&R Block Digital Tax Division, he had previously been Senior Vice President at Intuit in charge of the Tax Division, including TurboTax. He started his career as a design engineer.

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