Document Management & Workflow Blog

06 May 2021 Colin Graf

How Workflow Automation Supports Business Process Improvement

Workflow automation software reduces time spent and errors caused by standard business operations

According to a recent McKinsey report, 45% of business tasks can be automated by today’s technology. Business process automation (BPA) is a simple strategy that helps your business cut costs and become significantly more productive by automating some of your company’s key processes.

The first step in the automation process is understanding your current business processes and where they can be improved. Many different methodologies can be used to improve business processes. No matter which methodology you choose, documenting your business process improvement is key to carrying out an effective change. This allows you to determine the inefficiencies and bottlenecks, and then re-design the process to focus on the desired result with the business software that fits best. For example, you may ask your accounting department, “How can we take advantage of more early payment discounts?” And your HR team: “How can we ensure that we have all of the necessary HR documentation for every employee in case we’re audited?”

Once you have found the sources of counterproductivity, workflow automation software can be an effective tool to improve process efficiency and effectiveness for virtually any business function. This technology can provide significant benefits including faster transaction speed, improved process insight, lower transactional costs, and increased customer satisfaction—all of which can lead to a competitive advantage.

What Are Some Common Business Process Improvement Solutions?

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world without warning and quickly standardized remote work. Now, with offices reopening, businesses are scrambling to figure out the most productive strategies to improve their business processes and ensure business continuity whether your employees are at the office or at home. Here are two methodologies commonly used for business process management:

  1. Kaizen Methodology: Originating from the Japanese term meaning “continuous improvement,” the Kaizen method focuses on making small steady process improvements so that in time they will have a large-scale impact.
  2. Benchmarking Methodology: In this approach, your organization compares and adapts ideas, strategies, and processes from successful organizations in your industry.

Once you have a clear methodology as to how you plan on tackling your business process, it’s time to look into specific ways to improve all the steps along the way.

How to Start Implementing Strategies for Business Process Improvement

The first step in any process improvement project is to analyze what your goals are for your project and the end result you want to achieve. The key to properly carrying out this step is to know your company’s limitations and capabilities. Next, figure out what business practices will drive your actions and what tools to implement. Additionally, you must consider what outside rules and regulations govern your actions (i.e., legal auditability). Regardless of where the rules come from, it is important to know that they exist, and how they affect how your business operations such as document processing.

Why Leveraging Automation Technology is Key

Before documenting your current processes and the rules governing them, determine the key objectives of your process improvement activities and how automation software could help. For example, you may want to determine how to process invoices faster to take advantage of early payment discounts. In this case, the key objective is reducing the time to process the invoice. Other key objectives may be to increase order accuracy or to increase visibility into the process for executive management.

After documenting the process, you can determine where to insert technology to satisfy these key objectives. For instance, if a considerable amount of your invoices require approvals, you can streamline this process and get more early payment discounts with the help of workflow automation. Invoices will be electronically routed automatically for review and approval, cutting down invoice processing costs from $15 per invoice to just $2.36. This adds accountability to your process and reduces your operating costs significantly.

Test How to Best Tailor Automation Technology to Your Needs

Once you have determined how to use the appropriate technology, you will want to test the new process to determine how well it works and where there may be hiccups. In some cases, you may have thought daily notifications were a good idea, only to find out that they quickly fill up your inbox, becoming a nuisance.

Testing your new software solution allows for these adjustments to be made prior to the official launch of the new process, which increases user adoption, decreases resistance to change, and reduces the amount of time you will spend troubleshooting as you roll out your new strategy. Documenting the final version of the process will help capture all of this hard work, thinking and experience, and can be used to train and onboard new employees.

How Workflow Automation Benefits Your Business

The last thing you want is scope creep, where a project that was supposed to take two to three months drags on for years. To avoid this, make sure you can have some “quick wins” to help teams across your corporation align and stay motivated to improve your business processes, despite any unexpected challenges or delays. Quick wins help to build confidence, erode resistance, and limit your team’s frustrations as you move into the project’s later phases. This is why it’s important to set objectives early on as well as align internally across different teams on the timeline for your business process improvement’s implementation.

A recent report conducted by CMO Council found that businesses lose up to $1 trillion annually as a result of mismanaged tasks. Workflow automation software can solve this problem by helping businesses save time, eliminate redundant tasks, reduce manual errors, and run a much more cost-effective operation.

These days, workflow automation software is also surprisingly affordable. It’s even more powerful for your business when you add document scanning services and cloud document management software into the mix.

How to Ensure Business Continuity

Increasing efficiency, gaining visibility into your processes, and cutting costs starts with documenting your business processes and ends with a successful implementation of workflow automation—just make sure to also test, re-test, and stay on schedule. Additionally, improving your business processes helps strengthen your business continuity plan and will help your company stay competitive into the future. This is most easily achieved when working with a company experienced in implementing workflow automation software that meets your business needs. With over 30 years of experience, MetaSource is a global leader in digital transformation. As a SOC 2 Type 2 certified and HIPAA compliant company, a third party has audited the processes used to ensure document security.

Contact MetaSource to find out how to easily implement business process improvement strategies or download Finding the Right Path for Your Content Management Digital Transformation to learn more about how workflow automation and digital transformation benefit your organization in the long term.

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