There’s two ways of looking at workflow. You either look at it as a high up birds-of-view of the process and what the process automation will achieve…. or….. you look at it from within the thick of it – as a user interaction experience.
Neither is right and neither is wrong. You either can’t see the forest for the trees, or can’t see the trees but the forest. If you don’t cover both, you lose, because the best designed processes will fail if the users don’t understand what they’re meant to be doing at their particular branch (groan) of the process. And the best designed user-interaction will fail if the the process doesn’t lead anywhere or do anything useful.
Duet, when it comes to workflow, is about getting in as close to the process as you can. It’s about looking at the user interaction in detail. It’s about making that branch of the process so easy to use, so intuitive, so attractive to deal with right away, that that part of the process is executed in record time and record dilligence.
The consequence: Approvals are performed on time. And rejections, which are what prevent a company making mistakes and losing money, can be made because the complete context information is available and instantly interpretable.
So Duet offers the following in MS Outlook:
Offline and secure approvals (no crossing your fingers and hoping that an smtp mail isn’t spoofed).
Approvals can be done directly from your e-mail as you receive it.
User interface hides the technology used below the surface (that might change with time and release).
You control the configuration of the context information displayed with approval
Above all – you can do the approval and handle the sporadic ad hoc requirements such as adding attachments as intuitively as you handle your e-mail.
And it offers this without disrupting the process in any way. The forest doesn’t change. In other words you don’t have to call the workflow consultants back in. It’s purely a matter of getting the trees to sprout new leaves.
This is one of the scenarios that SAP and Microsoft are offering in their next release of Duet. And to prepare you for what is coming there is a workflow education session at Teched (UP202) . In addition I’ll be leading a birds-of-a-feather discussion session at the community day, Tuesday, the day before the official teched program begins in Munich. It’s a chance to discuss face-to-face the possibilities that Duet offers to workflow, consequences and how to prepare for it.
If you plan to attend this BOF session, please add your name to the Wiki (linked above) and drop me a line so that I know what expectations I can address.
And don’t forget the Teched education session UP202 on Friday.