Working Hard? Advance your Business Process to Work Smart Instead
Business leaders, often focusing on the immediate and the more pressing, relegate internal processes to the secondary. As a result, inefficiencies of various hues creep in, over time.
Inefficiencies manifest in many ways. Business processes and systems may be aligned to suit the technology rather than technology being applied to conduct business in the most seamless way. Additional processes may have come up to complete a part of the original process. Often, critical gaps in business processes and data silos make employees struggle to find the right information, or the right tools. The Boston Consulting Group estimates the amount of “procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, and decision approvals” having increased by anywhere from 50 percent to 350 percent over the last fifteen years, in US and European companies, with managers spending as much as 40% of their time writing reports, and 30% to 60% of their time coordination meetings! The net result is invariably business executives having to work harder than necessary.
One knee-jerk reaction when such inefficiencies become too disruptive to be ignored is automation. However, mere automation of inefficient processes only accentuates waste. While automation is indeed a step in the right direction, businesses need to also make their processes smarter.
Here are a few ways in which business processes can be tweaked to enable working smart instead of working hard.
- Standardize processes, but one size does not always fit all. What works well in one division may not work well for the company overall. 3M found this out the hard way when they applied Six Sigma not just in accounting, but across-the-board, resulting in stifled innovation in a company where innovation is the key USP.
- Innovate. A 2011 PwC study reports 80% of CEOs believing innovation to drive efficiencies and providing a competitive advantage.
- Leverage on-demand and scalable cloud solutions such as PaaS and IaaS to optimize resources, reduce costs, create innovative products and services, and add value to existing business systems.
- Apply technology to tighten collaboration between stakeholders, including customers. Celina Insurance Group implemented a highly collaborative extranet to bring the company employees, 500+ independent agents and customers closer, and offer easy access to all relevant information, resulted in massive gains.
- Integrate the supply chain with business processes, across the value-chain, in real time, to connect people with the information they require. Diary major Danone reduced the timeline of its production optimization plans from two days to a mere 15 minutes now, by updating and integrating its production planning and scheduling technology.
- Leverage analytics to get a 360-degree view, and derive value, from available data. Apply emerging technologies to unlock data and information resident in physical and digital systems, and subject such data to analytics. Ensure such new intelligence is readily available to those in a position to use it, and actionable to make better decisions.
- Enable a mobile workforce capable of collaborating anytime from anywhere. Today’s executives and customers are always on the move. Mobile apps and workflows save time, improve efficiency, and also unlock new possibilities.
About 70% of CEOs invest in IT to reduce costs and to become more efficient, and 54% of them focus on growth initiatives powered by emerging technologies such as mobility. About 80% of manufacturing businesses expect mobile apps to increase their productivity by at least six percent. Mobile phones powered by cloud-based storage and apps allow employees to save a whopping 57 minutes a day, on average.
Smart employees are already up to the task. They often cobble up their own solutions, taking advantage of the tons of resources available online, when existing business resources do not meet their requirements. About 90% of all employees use cloud-based services, such as Skype and LinkedIn, for their work, and 79% of employees use cloud-based file sharing and collaboration tools, such as Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive. Needless to say, such improvisations do not do away with all inefficiencies and come with grave security and data privacy risks.
Businesses need to facilitate smart employees by developing custom apps that automate workflows, provide digital forms, and sync offline data. A major stumbling block is the extensive time and resources that development of new custom apps requires. IT departments, already hard-pressed to keep existing systems running, often find the task of designing and updating apps that need to work with multiple platforms and disparate devices, too onerous. The solution is to partner with experienced providers, who not only make available complete and customized solutions, but also chips in with their specialized expertise and experience, to realise smart business processes.
Partnering with us allows you to have the best of both worlds – ability to roll out apps that leverage the latest cutting edge technology to enable smart business processes, without straddling your already overburdened and resource-crunched IT team with more responsibilities.