How to cement your business process competitive edge

Posted by Kevin Hall

Every business has certain processes and procedures which they rely on to service their clients quickly and efficiently. Any breakdown or delay of these processes can cause frustration and ultimately lost revenue.

So how do I automate the areas we are doing manually and fix my business processes?

One first needs to understand the process of automation, and the steps that need to be understood before creating a business case for change.

The major steps are:

· Business process modeling

· Business process analysis

· Business process optimisation

· Business process automation

Firstly, process modeling refers to a simple model which is being applied within your business and what needs to happen to complete it.

Let’s follow your product or service from marketing to sale and order process, and then the delivery of the service or the product. We need to model all the life cycles, and understand what you actually do.

One then needs to start the analysis of the process, which means sourcing all the facts and the figures relating to all the processes in the company, understanding the volumes of interactions, and the impact these volumes have. For example, how many people are ordering this product on a monthly basis, and what is the life cycle of the product.

Next we look at all the bottlenecks in the process - yes you might have somebody in-house as the process custodian, however many times these internal resources have developed and continue to use habits around the business. Data analytics will determine if some of the process needs to change, and what the impact would be on other processes in the company. Sometimes process custodians start losing perspective on outcomes or impact on the larger ecosystem of the company.

Lastly automation … automating processes without optimising them, will only lead to automated problems, and more stress on the whole system. We need to make sure when we automate certain key processes that there is enough capacity in the company to deal with the impact of this. Some manual interventions need to take place, and enough skilled resources need to understand their role in the process to make automation effective.

The goal of automation is often not productivity but the allocation of the right manual processes in the company to make sure people deal with people, and machines help the people work less, and interact more with the end user.

High touch points and the ability to manage the customer journey will enable the skilled human resources to build relationships with your customers and clients, and retain their business instead of just doing menial labor that could have been automated.

Customers and clients buy from people… they want to know the person they are dealing with. If we empower the business user with quality effective processes they will be less likely to focus on getting the product to the client, actually start anticipating the needs of the clients, and upselling other solutions which could be of even greater value.

Efficiency becomes a bigger issue than mere metrics and productivity. Management by measurement is the building blocks of leadership, but leading a company beyond facts and figures and understanding the strategic needs of the market will become more important in future.