I have blogged previously on the difference between workflow and BPM (flow and event). I’ve also commented on the challenges and criticality of getting smooth and predictable new account opening processes. Now, I’m going to put them together.

The new account to be opened today is an employee. Actually I have two new people today. John is joining our operations team as an engineer in a regional office.  Mary is joining as the new President of Global Sales at the head office. Things are getting interesting now. Are these two people onboarded into the company exactly the same way? I don’t think so.

John, being an operational employee, has a very predictable path into the business. There is a standard terms of employment to be signed, no negotiation required or considered, take it or leave it. We need to issue him the usual new employee welcome pack. There are the necessary tax forms to be completed. Then there are the various admin and IT activities: he needs a laptop with the approved standard operating environment and security for his nominated role; he gets a company smart phone; he’ll need a desk and phone; proximity card; photo taken for company directory; allocated a buddy for assimilation; a MySite in SharePoint; setup in the finance, HR, payroll, timesheet, expenses, training & certification systems; a box of business cards; high vis jacket and a hard hat maybe? The list goes on, you get the drift, plenty of activities to be completed prior to and after his arrival, all to make him feel welcome and embrace him in the operations of the business as soon as possible. After all, the key goal for onboarding a new employee is time-to-revenue.

All of that activity to get John set up in the business is flow-based. It’s easy to draw up a swim lane flowchart with plenty of arrows to follow, no surprises. The nice thing about automating through a workflow system is that you can easily run any number of those activities in parallel. Very few are dependent on another and those that are tend to be within an area (can’t install the PC SOE until the laptop has been sourced). Concurrent processing gets things done quicker and everything gets tracked for reporting and audit purposes.

Onboarding Mary as the Global President for Sales has a whole raft of extra complexities. Prior to all of the onboarding mechanics above, there will be all sorts of contractual negotiations. The structure and definition of her employment contract will be complex for a start and involve some pretty key people. Extensive due diligence; signing-on and early exit bonuses; allocation of performance bonuses; overall compensation package structure; statutory compliance; company reporting; press releases; the list goes on.

This is event-based process management, a much more complicated case-style experience where iterations of documents and negotiations with multiple layers of compliance and senior stakeholder approval are involved. It is not flowchart driven, there are no arrows to follow, it happens in a free flowing and unstructured way.

Onboarding ain’t onboarding. This is part of the XMPro difference that helped attract the Gartner 2012 Cool Vendor Award.

You can read more about Professional Advantage and XMPro here.

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