The Business Opportunity
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (formerly American Home Products) saw a variety of opportunities to improve its processes by automating. The objective was to find and improve areas where a process was detrimentally slow, required lots of paperwork, and was difficult to track status. Wyeth identified the Employee Action Notice (EAN) process, which met the criteria fully, to prove the concept of streamlining by automating workflow.
At Wyeth, the EAN process was used for all Human Resource ıtransactionsı, such as hiring an employee, hiring a temp, transferring an employee, and about a dozen other discrete actions. Any request for action needed to be composed manually by completing a paper form and routing it through company mail to an undefined (and variable) number of approvers. The process required was loosely supervised because of the difficulty of tracking where the request was. Prior approvers could never review the comments of later approvers. Business areas suffered the consequences of slow actions on their urgent requests.
AcroVision designed and developed a workflow application that would automate and streamline the process. Working closely with an internal Wyeth Analyst and Project Manager, AcroVision participated in JAD sessions and requirements gathering meetings, preparing a detailed requirements document. The document pinpointed the key areas of the process that needed to be addressed, and spelled out exactly the features that were desired. In addition Rapid Application Development (RAD) prototyping was employed to give the future users and application owners a clear picture of the possibilities for the application.
The new application provided a number of key features:
- The application provided an electronic form for entering the request, eliminating the need for much of the paperwork. The form was also easier to complete, since the user could make choices along the way and complete required fields only relating to the particular action.
- The application provided automated routing. Approvers received the action request immediately in their email. They were able to click on the link, immediately see the request, and then immediately decide to approve or reject. Based on the decision, the request was routed to the next approver or back to the requester immediately.
- Administrators could easily track status and follow up, since all actions were stored electronically in a database. In addition, the requester and prior approvers could follow the status themselves; they did not need to follow up through HR.
The workflow application was delivered on time and within budget. Key design parameters were developed 'on-the-fly' to keep the project moving forward. Loan applications have been generated since the first day of release and volume has grown steadily. The application helps PruBank to shorten the approval cycle, to closely manage all aspects of its loan approval process, and to tie together the people from both companies who are making it happen. The joint venture operates seamlessly and securely, as if there was one company handling everything.
The users have been very happy with the systems overall, and the workflow portion of the setup in particular. There have been only relatively minor modifications and improvements to the system over the first few months. PruBank looks forward to the possibility of other profitable joint ventures with the confidence that seamless, secure, and reliable supporting systems can be quickly developed and deployed.