Cost savings and efficiency improvements are key drivers for almost any organisation today, regardless of size and sector. In many cases, there are opportunities to transform everyday tasks with technology in order to make those gains.
Consider, for example, the time and effort it takes to process incoming paper-based mail (like invoices) manually; or to maintain corporate inventory or customer contact information using spreadsheets. If you could manage tasks like these by digitising documents, implementing workflows, or by introducing automation, how much money could you save? And how much more time would employees have to focus on higher-value, strategic activities?
The first step to transforming time-consuming, repetitive processes generally involves converting paper documents to digital; or switching from spreadsheets to more specialised applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Once you get that information under control — stored, managed and accessible digitally — you'll find you can simplify sharing and collaboration, monitor the progress of a task, maintain information security, increase productivity, and enable more in-depth data analytics and reporting.
Other repetitive processes that generally rely on people also lend themselves to automation. For a manufacturing company, quality inspection of parts or products may be critical to revenues — helping you avoid costly rework and disappointed customers. But human inspectors may become tired, get distracted or make mistakes; or you may have a heavy training burden owing to high staff turnover. Automating quality inspection using video analytics can ensure a much higher degree of consistency and accuracy, leading to better quality products, improved customer satisfaction and increased revenues.
Workflow and workflow automation software solutions help you optimise business processes by standardising routine activities into workflows and ensuring everyone involved in the process has access to the information they need.
As well as helping to streamline processes — by assigning tasks or prompting for the next step, these solutions bring automation to a process. For example, once a step is complete, the automated workflow automatically routes the task to the next person who needs to take action. Workflow solutions can pave the way to further automation using robotic process automation (RPA) to take over all or part of a defined process.
You can implement workflow software and automation solutions at your own pace. You could, for instance, start by automating a process like scanning incoming documents and routing them to relevant team members.
As a first step, identify the tasks that are ripe for workflow automation — usually repetitive, predictable activities. Next, define the outcomes of your automation aims by understanding the challenges you want to solve and setting measurable goals so that you can assess performance. In parallel, you'll need to get everyone on board with the proposed automated workflow by communicating the expected benefits. Once you've implemented your workflow management software or workflow automation solution, make sure you keep measuring performance to understand what's improved and what other business processes could be improved through workflow automation.
You can use workflow tools and automation solutions in many business scenarios, such as:
Workflow and automation solutions can help your business by speeding up and taking cost out of routine processes; increasing standardisation and accuracy within a process; and allowing people to spend more time and effort on higher-value, strategic or more complex tasks.
As an example: between 70% and 80% of the tasks involved in processing insurance claims are sufficiently repetitive that they can be performed without human intervention. RPA can take over these tasks — such as downloading data, creating reports and issuing invoices — so that straightforward claims can be processed faster and more consistently. The humans in the team are then free to focus on the 20%–30% of claims that require their expertise.
Research shows that, typically, employees spend only 43% of their working day on primary value-adding duties.* Small wonder that 48% of them complain about inappropriate use of their skills.** Understanding the waste of time, money and expertise that represents, Konica Minolta offers a range of workflow and automation capabilities to help you lighten the admin load and deliver better outcomes for your customers, your business and your employees.
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