The missing link in automation: let’s dive in with a business process mindset

16. April 2020

5 steps to optimise your processes and create real value.

Value creation is the foundation of every business. Entrepreneurship is about transforming resources into added value for your customers. And in today’s hyper-competitive market, you need to use your resources with razor-sharp precision to stay ahead of your challengers. Getting the maximum out of your people and processes, and optimising your profit & loss is essential to your survival in a dynamic market.

Business processes are at the heart of this quest for efficiency. They determine how your people, commodities and data are transformed into value. And often, these processes don’t get enough attention. How can you optimise workflows to cut overhead and maximise your output? This is how to start with automation with a business improvement mindset.

automate the boring stuff.

The ongoing digitalisation has pressed organisations to pay more and more attention to processes. Companies have moved from analogue, manual workplaces to increasingly computer-based operations. Automation is on everyone’s mind, but it’s a long process and it doesn’t go smoothly every time. In many cases, companies get stuck between a paper-based way of working and a fully automated process. The easiest part of a process gets automated fast, and for the difficult part … well, there’s temporary workarounds. This can lead to great frustrations, no-one sets out on an automation journey to end up with a semi-automated workflow with tons of messy workarounds.

These semi-digitalised, time-consuming processes cost your organisation a lot of time and money. Data is decentralised and process flows are complicated and inefficient. Information silos inhibit data to flow freely between departments. Consequently, your employees spend too much time doing repetitive chores like scanning documents, looking for information or capturing and injecting data into silo-based toolsets or excel sheets. They struggle to get their work done because they are busy with tasks far beneath their capabilities. IDC reported that knowledge workers spend about 150 minutes per day searching for information.

By analysing, streamlining and automating your processes, you can efficiently utilise your people and data to spark growth. Optimising your business processes is all about eliminating superfluous overhead costs and turning your resources into value.

from roadmap to reality, in 5 steps.

Automating your business processes is an excellent way to increase workflow efficiency. It can help your company streamline its communication, enforce accountability, and reduce overall costs. But to get the most out of your efforts, you need a sound strategy to tackle inefficiencies. A lot of companies that invest in business process excellence, end up with a bunch of fancy diagrams that don’t get translated into reality. At Devoteam, we like to do things differently. These are the 5 steps we use to boost efficiency and go from roadmap to reality.

1. DISCOVERY PHASE

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing”. This famous quote by the American statistician and mathematician William Edwards Deming sums up the first step of business process excellence. Before you can start drawing new processes and automating your current ones, you need to get a firm grip on your operations. At this point, it’s crucial to distinguish between the steps that are necessary to each process, those that are helpful to have, and those that are completely unnecessary. What that really means is that you need to trim the fat and boil your processes down to the bare essentials. Start from there. What steps are absolutely crucial? What domain experts need to be involved? And what takes up too much time right now?

2. ROADMAP PHASE

Once you’ve devised a clear image of your current processes, you can start thinking about automation. At Devoteam, we like to use the crawl-walk-run method. First, you need to choose a well-defined process you want to improve and set up a test case. Here, it’s important to identify quick-win projects that have a big impact on your company and that are relatively easy to change. Next, you can move on and add other cases as you go.

3. MODELLING AND ANALYSIS PHASE

In this stage, you need to translate your business goals into clear-cut diagrams. Business process modeling is the visual representation of a company’s business processes or workflows as a means of identifying potential improvements. This is usually done through different methods, like the flowchart, the data-flow diagram, and heat maps.

 

Business process management 2.0: automation & optimisation. This is where the magic happens.

A lot of companies that want to streamline their operations make the mistake to stop at the modeling and analysis stage. But there is a next step. The discovery, roadmap and modeling phases are mere means to an end: you need to go the next mile to reap the benefits of process optimisation. Business process management 2.0 focusses on how to draw actionable insight from the first phases.

4. AUTOMATION PHASE

The next step is to decide on the means to the end. At this point, you know where you are and you know where you want to go. Now, you need to figure out how to get there. To arrive at a solution your next priority step will be to select the right workflow automation solution.

Automation platforms contain a workflow engine or state engine that processes and interprets flowchart models. By using this technology, you can start automating repetitive chores that take your employees a lot of time and slow down the process. This is a key element in any business process excellence strategy.

5. OPTIMISATION PHASE

In this final step, you can focus on eliminating problems. By visually representing your workflows and processes and automating them, you can start identifying problems. Process automation can pin-point certain steps in the process that take too long or identify points of congestion. Consider a hiring process, for example. Candidates that have to wait too long to get a reply, may get an offer from another company before you have even had a chance to talk to them. BPM 2.0 can help you define and solve these issues.

getting started with business process automation.

Business processes are hot again. In this lean, agile world, companies are looking at Business Process Engine to give them a critical edge over the competition. With automation, they can go beyond the traditional approach and start optimising their business.

Want to get started with business process automation, but not quite sure how to get going? Give me a call or send me an email, I’d love to help.

You can read Stefan’s previous blog post here. Discover more about our business process excellence offer.

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Contact

Stefan Lodewijckx

Expert Director & Business Line Manager

Business Process Excellence

Devoteam Belgium