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FlowStudy Summary

The Processes:

  • Finance and travel approval

The Pain Points:

  • Custom solutions expensive and ineffective
  • Lack of user engagement
  • Disconnect between users and processes
  • Inefficient dependency on paper trails

The Benefits:

  • Turnaround times dramatically reduced
  • Compliance made easy
  • Different departments more engaged
  • Collaborative culture replaces departmental silos
  • Self-service processes create a better fit for academics
  • Better value than customized software
  • Leverages existing IT investments

The Next Steps:

  • Every department is now engaged in replacing
    paper-based processes with best practice processes.

LSTM Replace Paper Trails and Drive Collaboration

The Challenge

LSTM Logo-1.png

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) is the oldest school of tropical medicine in the world, with hundreds of staff working across the globe. When the School was awarded HEI status in 2013, this presented an opportunity to leverage the very latest technologies and design its IT infrastructure from scratch.

The decision was taken to become a cloud-first organization, building an environment on Microsoft cloud services, including Office 365®, SharePoint Online®, Skype for Business® and Azure®. There was also a need to introduce Business Process Management (BPM) solutions, replacing paper based processes that were inefficient and made compliance a challenge.

“There was a big demand for electronic workflows, but progress was slow because we only had limited internal resources able to create them and outsourcing was expensive,” said Martyn Coleman, IT Systems Architect, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. “It was one piece of the jigsaw we were finding difficult to fit."

Several BPM products were trialled before LSTM came across FlowForma BPM. A successful workshop used real examples of existing workflow requirements, and convinced management and IT that they had found the missing piece.

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The Solution

Tightly integrated with the SharePoint platform, the no code FlowForma BPM tool is a perfect fit for LSTM and its cloud-first strategy. Eight people were trained by a local FlowForma partner, the first two workflows went live within a month. Others quickly followed and the solution was soon embedded in the organization.

One particular process around travel typified the paper dependency this registered charity was trying to escape. Sending staff to disease endemic countries all over the world to undertake research and interventions, LSTM requires that employees assess the risks and get the appropriate level of sign off before every trip. Four paper forms had to be filled in, with some duplication across forms.

“On the one hand, we needed the Travel Assist process to provide robust risk assessments,” explained Martyn Coleman. “On the other, we don’t want our talented academics spending hours filling in forms.”

Earlier attempts to introduce electronic systems that ticked both boxes had failed. FlowForma BPM succeeded for many reasons, not least because it leveraged the SharePoint investment, making it easier to create new flows and share them. It addressed the complexities of the travel requirements without being too onerous to complete.

Rather than simply replicate paper-based processes, it introduced new efficiencies and encouraged cross-department engagement. “The best thing about FlowForma BPM for me is that you can come up with a specification to deliver a solution that involves all the stakeholders,” said Coleman. “In the case of Travel Assist, there were a couple of curve balls around the process that we were able to address very quickly because of the flexibility and ease of use of FlowForma BPM.”

Self-service components make it more accessible to users, while links from inside the system to outside sources, like the government travel advice service and travel health advice providers, made risk assessment easier. “We get good quality compliance data out of Travel Assist and a way to nudge travellers along on a process they have to complete,” said Coleman.

The Benefits

LSTM has launched 65 workflows in the 14 months since FlowForma BPM was deployed. An organization that was once “awash with paper form based processes” is seeing huge efficiency gains. Finance flows have been particularly successful, replacing paper trails that depended on people being available for sign off. Requests for a bank transfer or foreign currency are now electronic processes, where authorization is just one in a series of automated steps.

FlowForma’s impact on the way LSTM works has been profound, according to Coleman, democratizing the development of process improvements. Departments are more involved than when they outsourced development to third parties. New processes are turned around more quickly and better aligned to the business need.

The intuitive interface of FlowForma BPM has been central to its success. “I have no development skills at all but I’m a very confident user of FlowForma BPM,” said Coleman.

FlowForma BPM has helped to encourage a culture of collaboration, “As soon as FlowForma BPM delivered a couple of high profile wins, everyone started to think about their own practices and how they could make them cross-departmental and improve them.”

Martyn Coleman has also been impressed by FlowForma as a solutions provider. “We have had a very good support experience and there has been a helpful exchange of information on both sides that has led to product improvements. Their interest doesn’t stop when you sign the invoice,” he said. “I really like the FlowForma team and I’ve only had positive experiences. We’ve been treated very well and have a high level of access to their expertise if we need it.”

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Customer Feedback

FlowForma - Empowering LSTM with no code BPM software

Martyn Coleman

IT Systems Architect,
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

“In the case of Travel Assist, there were a couple of curve balls around the process that we were able to address very quickly because of the flexibility and ease of use of FlowForma BPM.”

As soon as FlowForma BPM delivered a couple of high profile wins, everyone started to think about their own practices and how they could make them cross-departmental and improve them.”

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