Mapping Out Business Processes and Workflows for Mining Companies

What are workflows? Workflows are a sequence of connected steps that, without overlapping, are set up to accomplish an objective. In other words, when a mining company has to do step A (i.e. extract materials from a site), in order to do B (use haul trucks to bring materials to its facilities), in order to do C (process the extracted materials), ABC is a workflow for that company. In reality, each of these steps can involve hundreds of smaller steps within them, performed by a variety of personnel.

A company in the mining industry can have upwards of 40,000 workflows distributed amongst its entire user base. Throughout its operations, it will have defined workflow parameters, reviewed the rules that apply to each one, designed it within the solution, and determined which user each one applies to. A business wide software solution, like Sage ERP X3, provides mining companies with Workflow Management Software designed to automate business processes through the flow of information inside and outside a business, based on the specific work practices and procedures of a company.

How Workflows Work within a Software Solution

Each one of the thousands of business processes in a mining company’s operations will be represented by a workflow within its software solution. These processes, defined by employees (the actual software users), are broken down into individual tasks within the software, grouped together in the order that they are performed, and assigned to the users who actually perform the tasks.

In other words, workflows within an enterprise-wide software solution, like Sage ERP X3, replicate the processes of the business and make it easy for employees to see how their work fits within the overall activities of the company.  In modern solutions, workflows are made easy to manage and visualize by using graphic representation of the processes. The result is a visual understanding of operations – being able to actually see how work moves along from A to B to C within a process.

For a mining company that is just getting off the ground and perhaps preparing to begin operations supported by an ERP solution, the process of designing workflows and implementing the ERP solution would go something like this:

What happens when workflows change or new ones are required?

Our partners, Sage South Africa, have developed a workflow toolkit within Sage ERP X3. They did this to allow the creation and management of workflows by the users of the application, making it easy to use and adjust as the company develops.
Even if you don’t know a thing about programming, knowing the steps within a business process allows you to structure and create a workflow within the system. The workflow, once tested and approved, becomes the standard across the company’s systems and can be assigned to specific users, while automatically gathering data for business intelligence.

Managing Workflows and Business Intelligence

Mapping out business processes within a company is also a way to iron out inefficient processes and identifies those that should be removed all together. The ones that remain are entered as workflows in the software solution, and their actions become traceable when the process takes place. Any time something within the mining company happens, as long as it is done through the system, data will be generated, updated across the system (such as requisitions automatically allocated to appropriate cost centers, shafts, processes, and so on) and organized for analysis. This data can then be analyzed, giving managers visibility into the performance of individual processes within the mining company’s operations.
Workflows, within an ERP solution, are a way to lay out the steps needed to complete an action within a mining company. Sage ERP X3 gives a visual representation of these processes, and makes it easy to add and change existing processes. When the solution is in place it will collect data important to determine the future of the company’s activities and operations.