Cherie Pardue: Paper ShredderBy Baselinemag | Posted 2004-11-01 Email Print
Re-Thinking HR: What Every CIO Needs to Know About Tomorrow's Workforce
Director of Children's National Medical Center, on the challenges of switching from paper to software to automate employee purchase requests and other processes.
Children's National Medical Center
Dir., Application Development and Support
Manager's Profile: In charge of enterprise software projects for the 279-bed pediatric hospital, which has 3,320 full-time employees.
Form Flood: In 2001, Children's National examined ways to automate administrative processes. The first one Pardue's group tackled was employee purchase requests, about 350 of which are submitted weekly. "There were a lot of forms floating around and getting lost in the approval process," she says.
Her Project: The hospital deployed Metastorm's e-Work for $70,000, which included software licenses, annual maintenance and consulting fees. Employees now enter purchase requests into a Web form; e-Work then routes the form via e-mail folders to individuals who must approve the purchase (based on preset rules, such as amount of the purchase) and eventually to the purchasing department.
Speeding Up the Flow: Pardue estimates total annual savings just from automating purchase requests were $28,000, related to the elimination of printing costs and faster approval cycles that can now take just minutes instead of days. Paper purchase requests used to cost $2.32 each to process, whereas the automated electronic versions run 80 cents apiece. "We saved hard green dollars as well as soft productivity dollars," Pardue says. Today, Children's National uses e-Work to handle about a dozen processes, ranging from business card orders to employee termination.
Not Fully Automatic: The rollout had a few hiccups. Initially, the hospital based its approval process on job titles. Pardue discovered that was problematic because titles didn't correspond uniformly to approval responsibilities across the organization. Her team changed to a standardized, four-level hierarchical approval process in which purchase requests are routed based on the employee's department and dollar amount of the request. "Once you create these processes, you have issues of 'Who reports to who?'" she says. "It gets messy."