Most active business leaders take an approach to improving business process flows through a structured strategy of continuous process improvement.
Historically, business process flows have been documented in written procedures using business process modelling notation, process flowcharts, and related methodologies.
The software tools available now may have been refined at corporate and enterprise levels. However, they have evolved into a new generation of products that are accessible enough to be managed in-house and scalable to any sized organisation, regardless of the types of business environments in which you operate.
Stop being a slave to inefficient, poorly defined workflows and practices. Allow your staff to focus on relationships, core competencies, and results, by leveraging the latest generation of software tools that are available today.
Staff should not be impeded by poor internal communications, poor customer communications, unclear processes, a lack of responsibility, or lack of accountability. If your business is not taking advantage of the time-saving productivity tools that are readily available today, then you can be sure that your business is slipping behind your competitors!
The days of managing business processes by training staff to complete repetitive tasks on assembly lines, has only limited application in today's service-oriented business environment. Organisations are leveraging the technology that is now available to assist in providing improved services to customers, while ensuring efficiency improvements within their operations.
Cloud-based, no-code applications and low-code applications have matured to a point where they are scalable, customisable, and intuitive; readily capable of managing and automating your business processes.
It is no longer just the "top end of town" who are using technology to improve the effectiveness of their businesses. A recent study by Deloitte found that 77% of business leaders believe that the digitisation of business processes would have the biggest impact on their organisations in the next 3 years.
Technology and software have now reached a level of maturity that ensures that it is cost effective for managing:
For businesses to be successful, they need to have clearly defined business goals that are regularly reviewed and managed in the constantly shifting economic and social landscape of today. A fundamental input to planning is having reliable data available that can be used on for analysis and decision making.
Every business relies on a variety of resources - from staff to time, from monetary investment to physical workspaces. Being able to identify at any point in time, what resources are available, and aligning them with activities to be undertaken, is an essential part of every business.
Identifying regulatory compliance and other industry obligations is crucial for all businesses. Historically it is an area that has often received much less focus, to the point of turning a blind eye. Responsible business leaders take compliance management seriously, ensuring that requirements are understood and effective controls are established. Fortunately, technology is also helping facilitate the management of compliance obligations.
All businesses know that there are constant challenges to reduce costs, increase revenue, and improve customer service. Meeting these challenges requires a structured approach that is implemented throughout the business. Software systems and associated technology has reached a point now where this is very manageable and cost effective.
All of the above are necessary for better management of business processes, communications, and workflow.
In fact, 78% of business leaders believe that employees would save 60 hours every month with process automation in place. (Ref 2020 In(Sight) Report)
The good news is that today, business process automation (BPA) and robotic process automation (RPA) have reached a point where it is not just viable for businesses to adopt, but these technologies are accessible, cost effective, and no longer require in-house programmers or contract programmers to manage and maintain.
Improving business process flow no longer means putting change requests to a software development team just to set up new form for your users, or a new report for your managers. Gone are the days of waiting days or weeks for those requests to be acknowledged or actioned by faceless programmers, who did not understand your business or operational imperatives.
All of this can now be managed by your own staff, as easily as they may, for example, add data to a spreadsheet. The added benefits are that these workflow software solutions allow your your employees to be empowered to manage their own workflows, while allowing transparency to those who need it, and ensuring that accountability is also readily assigned, communicated, and managed.
All specialty disciplines have their own lingo. Within every discipline there also exists experts with their own opinions, theories, and practices. It is interesting to note that many terms within specialties are often reduced to three-letter acronyms — otherwise known as TLAs (!).
Depending on who you ask, digital process automation (DPA) and robotic process automation (RPA) are considered the same. In other circles, DPA is considered to be more aligned with business process automation (BPA) and the approach taken to an overall digital transformation project.
We take the view that any process automation needs to be considered within the overall, end-to-end, business process management (BPM) and process workflow. Anything else is not best business practice or effective change management.
Ultimately, these acronyms and definitions are much less important than the outcomes and benefits that business process technologies of today can bring to your organisation and to your customers.
Learning how to automate your business processes should not be so onerous as to impede its implementation. In particular, automating those "low hanging fruit" activities and steps in your business process flow, should be simple enough to be established by your staff, with very little training, very quickly — it must be intuitive. Today's no-code and low-code technology makes this possible, bringing immediate benefits to any business.
When implementing any change management program, there are significant benefits to be realised through "quick wins", while still maintaining a vision on the big picture and ultimate goal(s). But that does necessitate mapping out the big picture in the first place.
Often the simplest automations come through identifying and replacing the internal paper forms or email requests that are actively in use to manage repetitive tasks. They are typically used by multiple staff, very frequently, and can often be onerous for one or more staff members to manage and/or oversee.
External customer requests may present a similar challenge that can be readily improved through simple automation. Customer satisfaction is key to ensuring that your business remains competitive. When implemented well, the automation of customer requests should add value to the customer experience while also improving the effectiveness of your customer process(es).
It is important to recognise that both customisation and automation are readily available, and easily implemented, within using today's process automation tools and software solutions.
If you undertake any of these activities, there are aspects that can readily be automated.
Doing so will dramatically improve communication, transparency, and accountability between staff involved in these activities.
However, two key elements are required for any business process management implementation project:
Leadership should be a given. Clear communication from top management, about any business process change, is essential for change to be effective.
A lack of effective leadership communication often results in employee experience being poor, which in turn presents further challenges to the effectiveness of any changes.
Involving key employees, making them part of the changes, provides the opportunity for ownership and effective implementation. For example, involving them in the exercise of business process mapping, identifying business rules, and overall business process flow, dramatically impacts on employee engagement. Again, this is an essential element for change to be effective.
The degree to which automation is implemented in your organisation, is predominantly limited by your imagination. This is great news given that you and your staff can readily implement processes improvements, without significant training. At the same time, any software automation solution must be able to easily be adaptable and change with the changing needs of your business — it must be scalable.
Most medium sized businesses do not have the luxury of employing full time Chief Information Officers (CIOs); small businesses cannot typically even consider such a resource.
When it comes to automation, it should be able to be implemented seamlessly using your existing human resources and skills, to the point of improving process effectiveness and consistency, without adding a huge overhead, but while still keeping control in-house. This also ensures that the systems implemented are appropriate and match the business needs, business activities, business process flow, and resources of your organisation.
Of course, there is always the option of utilising consultants to facilitate the planning and implementation of any automation project. In fact, the impartial nature of consultants brings many significant benefits, particularly to planning the big picture while also leveraging experience and knowledge at the detail-level.
Read more about our preferred software platform for business process automation here.