FlowForma Process Automation® has made itself indispensable to Aberdeen Radiation Protection Services (ARPS), a company on a fast growth trajectory by replacing paper-based processes in a highly regulated industry
The Pain Points:
The Next Steps:Many more processes are planned for migration to FlowForma Process Automation, cementing the software’s role as a business critical application.
Based in Scotland, Aberdeen Radiation Protection Services (ARPS) is a business that has benefited from the North Sea oil and gas industry. The company provides radiation protection services including contamination meters and leak test equipment to measure radioactive by-products on rigs. Other customers include waste management and healthcare sectors, but the company has gone global through its work with energy companies as far afield as the Middle East and West Africa.
Fast-growth encouraged ARPS to revisit existing processes and look for greater efficiencies. Crucially, the company’s 70 meters have to be recalibrated annually by a third-party to make sure they are compliant and fit for purpose. The process of tracking and bringing devices in for their yearly test was largely paper-based with a ring binder used for detailing what meter was on which rig. Scribbled notes were often added if a project was extended and it was easy to make mistakes. Worse still, meters that cost between £2 to £5,000 occasionally got lost.
Excel® spreadsheets were shared by email with clients, but there was no central repository so up-to-date information was hard to find and access. Penny Wade, Director at ARPS was aware that it was becoming an issue and impacting on revenue. “Clients pay us a daily rental so we have to work out accurately the number of chargeable days, so we can invoice companies properly and quickly,” she said.
ARPS knew it needed to improve its processes and initially went looking for a document management system. It selected Office 365 and SharePoint, realizing that cloud-based software was a perfect fit for globetrotting employees that needed access to documents from anywhere.
FlowForma came into the frame when Appetite for Business, FlowForma’s Scottish Specialist Partner recommended deploying FlowForma® Process Automation to sit on top of SharePoint, to turn inefficient paper trails into seamless workflow. Within a year FlowForma Process Automation would become a core application for the business.
Having implemented FlowForma Process Automation, Graham Macpherson, Operations Manager at Appetite for Business, set about training five employees in two groups over two days. Highlighting how intuitive the software is to use, the flow for the re-calibration process was devised on the course. “The basic structure was 95 per cent there by the end of the training,” said Macpherson. “All ARPS had to do was make some final tweaks and it was effectively live.”
Every part of the re-calibration process was set up within FlowForma Process Automation, enabling the business to have complete visibility of each meter’s lifecycle through a single window. Transport documentation with the right customs codes for shipping offshore is generated in the process, along with the printed labels for dispatching units to the rig or re-calibration company.
The company also conducts wipe test for clients, where special wipes are brought back from sites around the world and analyzed for radioactivity. If they’re clean the site is passed and issued with a certificate. Heavily dependent on Microsoft Word® documents and Excel spreadsheets, it’s another process that was migrated. A signed PDF certificate is emailed straight back to the client when a site has been cleared, all generated from FlowForma Process Automation.
"A lot of our work is spent providing a service to clients, to enable them demonstrate compliance with environmental and health and safety legislation,” explained Penny Wade.‘‘We used to use spreadsheets to calculate whether radioactive materials met legislative requirements. That’s now worked out automatically using FlowForma Process Automation as we go along.”
In the first year after implementation and training, ARPS has self-built a further four flows. “It’s very quickly becoming a business critical application for us,” said Wade. “I wouldn’t like to go back to how it was. We only started this a year ago, and it’s already made a big difference to the business.” The firm has been particularly impressed at the way it speeds up processes, with automatic fields prompting the user in the right direction while carrying out calculations in the background. “With spreadsheets someone could save something with a mistake and the next person wouldn’t necessarily see it. FlowForma Process Automation gives us more control, forcing users to answer certain questions. We now have much more confidence in the results,” she said.
ARPS also provides clients with guidance around meter usage. Running over 20 training courses a year, was a logistical challenge with the old paper-based way of doing things. Now the process is all managed using FlowForma Process Automation. When someone calls up to book a place on a course, any one of the employees can open up the flow, see when places are free, book them in and send out a confirmation. When participants complete the course, a certificate is generated within FlowForma Process Automation and sent out to them.
Another new flow was created for leave requests, where employees start by filling in a field on the type of leave they want. The dates are automatically put on a shared calendar, eliminating the risk of people double-booking the same days.
All this activity demonstrates how effectively Appetite for Business delivered the project and guided ARPS on the best way to combine Office 365 and FlowForma Process Automation for significant business process change. “They did a lot of work, not just around the training, but in setting up FlowForma in Office 365 in such a way that any of our team can go in and use it,” said Wade.
FlowForma Process Automation is now helping ARPS with financials. Filing cabinets full of contracts and purchase orders were inefficient and impacting on cash flow. A database was built in FlowForma Process Automation that keeps all customer information in one place – point of contact, the status of the contract and related purchase orders – making it much easier to raise invoices and keep tabs on outstanding monies.
The benefits have been many, according to Penny Wade, from saving time and money to making it much easier for clients to demonstrate compliance with environmental and health and safety legislation. The outcomes have been important because there had been some scepticism about investing in business process automation. “It had been hard persuading some of the other directors that FlowForma BPM was a good route to go down,” said Wade. “Now they’ve seen the results they are 100 per cent behind it.”
"FlowForma Process Automation is very quickly becoming a business critical application for us. I wouldn’t like to go back to how it was. We only started this a year ago, and it’s already made a big difference to the business.
With spreadsheets someone could save something with a mistake and the next person wouldn’t necessarily see it. FlowForma Process Automation gives us more control, forcing users to answer certain questions. We now have much more confidence in the results."