23 May 2016

Which Processes to Automate

Success and competitive ability directly depend on what a company does to improve its performance and reduce costs. The modern market dictates terms on cost saving in all business areas. To tighten belts with lowest risks of making strategic mistakes and losing customers, business owners and executives resort to automation of procedures, carried out by their employees. In this case, automation of business processes is not only a great asset for business owners, but also one of the key ways of developing a company on the modern market.

Nevertheless, it is painstaking and expensive to automate business processes immediately. Let us start with considering, which processes need to be automated and which can be improved by personnel development and constant analysis and management of a company’s processes.

The following parameters should mean that automating a business process is potentially beneficial:

  • this is a main, customer-oriented process;
  • the process involves a lot of people;
  • the process takes much time and includes routine tasks;
  • the process requires numerous documents, and the employees spend a lot of time on paperwork;
  • significant amounts of data have to be processed.

Main company processes

These processes are the main sources of company’s profit. They have to run like clockwork, in order for the customer to be satisfied. The primary way to increase customer loyalty is to execute their orders in time, meet their needs and exceed their expectations.

A company rents out living quarters. From time to time, customers send inquiries about maintenance. A manager receives the inquiries, considers them, calls the customers, decides, who is responsible for considering an inquiry, redirects it to that person, adds the information to an excel file… and waits until the person responsible answers.

Usually, a main process is a complex, end-to-end process, which involves many people. Creating process policies allows overlooking a process, while automating it offers much more features.

A big, electric appliances retailing company. The main process of the company is sales. The process starts with receiving an order on the website and ends with estimating financial results. The process involves members of different departments – sales assistants, lawyers, accountants. ELMA analysts offered automation of the entire process, including integration with the website for collecting customer requests, creation of the necessary documentation from templates and document registration in the system. Implementation of an automated business process significantly saved time the company used to spend on the main process.

Automation of the main processes will add clarity and distinguish responsibilities. It will also make the business more flexible, since adjusting processes takes little time and the adjustments are applied immediately.

Process involves many people

When several employees do the same job, some questions arise: What does each employee do? Who works on each particular task? Who can be given a priority task? Some tasks may be left without and executor. Unorganized work may cause dissension: Why Bob is not doing anything, but we receive the same paycheck?

Of course, a skilled and responsible manager can solve these problems, but as the department grows, this task becomes harder. How can a business process management system help in this case? It makes things clear: you can check at which stage is a task at any time.

Business process diagram

You can see which task is currently active on the process map

BPM systems allow evaluating workload of an employee. The simplest way to analyze it is the schedule compliance report. The information you can get from the report will help you optimize your employees’ work. If some resources are overloaded, you should redistribute tasks evenly or depending on the expertise of each employee.

If the company management faces the task to implement an incentive system, automation can help again. Metrics and indicators can be configured for a process. Their values are collected and calculated as part of the process. Later the values can be used to evaluate employees’ performance and their bonuses. In other words, a BPM system with a KPI module allows quickly collecting and processing indicators data and offer them in a clear view to relevant employees.

Process takes much time

Time is money. Long processes make customers wait, which causes discontent and sometimes frozen assets.

The following factors affect duration of a process:

  • uncoordinated work;
  • time-consuming manual operations;
  • bottlenecks (resource load is greater than its capacity).

A BPM system will help you find the bottleneck and reallocate the resources by changing the direction of the business process.

Process requires many documents

Creating a document and document routes (approval/review and so on) are among the most resource-intensive procedures.

Usually, companies have templates for different document types. Memo, for instance. A secretary, who creates a new document, takes another memo and changes some information to speed up the procedure. However, there is a possibility of a mistake: for example, the secretary was distracted and forgot to change a date.

Many companies prefer using electronic documents instead of hard copies. In some companies, this transition stopped at the point of sending documents via email.

Automation allows saving time on drawing up a document and prevent errors. A template can be created even for the most complex documents, so you will only have to select some values in the system.

A company has well-organized contract management. Employees know who is responsible for which contract type. Lawyers, who constitute and approve contracts, are assigned. The management decided to use email instead of paper versions. That is what happens: employees receive many emails every day, and priority emails get lost among regular mail and even spam. The employee, responsible for concluding a contract, has to remind the lawyer to prepare the contract.

As the result, plenty of time is wasted. Electronic document management is a must-have.

On top of that, a document management system is a shared storage for all the company’s documents, therefore nothing will be lost on the employees’ computers. A combination of a BPM and document management systems, as in ELMA, allows exceeding the scope of regular routes (approval, review) and modeling routes of any type.

Significant amounts of data have to be processed

You can hire 10 analysts and they will process data in Excel, or hire one, who will develop a data processing algorithm. Any logic can be applied in BPM systems by using programming languages. In ELMA, you can describe data processing in C#.

A big company has a quarterly review of employees’ sales results. Each sales rep can sell particular products, and each product has its importance and affect the quarterly bonus. Before implementing a BPM system, analysts performed calculations manually in Excel. After implementing ELMA, the system performs the calculations.

It is hard to escape a conclusion that it is too expensive to pay for human labor, while a computer can do the same job faster and better.

Summing it up

It is certainly necessary to improve company’s performance, but you should not take up all the processes. Automate the processes that generate profit, thoroughly plan and analyze each step of the implementation of automated processes. Automation has to save time and money, improve image in the eyes of the customers due to mature and coordinated work of the company. Remember, that if you plan your actions, have a good team of professionals and proper software, automation of business processes will be the key competitive advantage of your company on the market.


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Alexander Khodyrev
Localization Specialist