Your business operates in a highly competitive environment where you are under constant pressure to produce more results with less resources. Customers are becoming more and more demanding, particularly when it comes to price and quality, and yet you face unrelenting cost pressures as your business becomes more complicated and labor rates keep on going up. How do you balance this need to continually increase your efficiency with ever-increasing customer expectations for quality, price and responsiveness?
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Part of the solution is workflow automation software. This type of system allows you to automate all of your business processes in a consistent fashion – while centralizing and organizing your business information so that you have a comprehensive view of your customers, your operations and your finances. As a result, process problems disappear – no more lost documents, duplicated efforts or unsustainable administrative overhead. Employees have instant access to the information they need to do their jobs, and critical tasks are automatically routed from department to department as they progress. Here are just some of the areas where you can apply workflow automation to your business.
How many times have you found yourself waiting for materials, only to find that no one ever issued a purchase order after you received a quote? The impact of this type of error is significant – either your production is impacted or you end up paying more because you have to put out a rush order. With workflow automation, you can avoid this and many other procurement problems. For example, you can integrate workflow automation with your ERP system, so that purchase orders are issued automatically once quotes are received from approved suppliers and accepted. You can also reduce carrying costs – for example, by providing visibility of stock levels to executives so that they can make just-in-time purchasing decisions.
People are the most important resource that any organization has, and yet HR departments are usually chronically understaffed. This slows down critical activities such as hiring employees, and ultimately limits the ability of the organization to grow and adapt. With workforce automation, HR departments can automate repetitive tasks, including processing resumes, sending out offer letters and associated documentation – such as nondisclosure agreements. They are able to control and track the entire recruitment process, starting with gathering initial management requirements and budgets and finishing with managing the logistics of employee onboarding. Workforce automation also makes it much simpler to manage other HR processes – for example, it can automate yearly reviews, including sending reminders to managers, automatically collecting appraisals, gaining approval for salary increases and updating payroll systems.
Accounting departments inevitably face challenges when they deal with invoices – including making sure that they are valid and approved, and that they are not duplicated. A workflow management system can automatically route invoices to appropriate managers for approval, and then pay them when that approval is received. They can also tie invoices back to purchase orders and then reject duplicate invoices. It is also possible to configure them to control when invoices are paid – for instance, invoices that offer a discount for early payment can be paid just before the discount period expires.
Production and Fulfilment
Businesses that manufacture or assemble products can dramatically reduce their costs and improve quality by applying workflow automation to their production and fulfillment processes. For example, key manufacturing personnel can be notified when major orders are received – and then sales can be automatically notified when the order is scheduled for production. The workflow management system can also trigger procurement systems, so that needed materials are ordered and received in time for production to start. The system can also drive all the stages of the end to end manufacturing process – which also allows it to identify key production bottlenecks and monitor the productivity of workers.
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For larger companies, managing facilities is a major cost – and also offers many opportunities for significant savings. For example, a workflow management system can schedule and trigger regular maintenance activities, while making sure that any required parts are shipped to site before the maintenance worker arrives. It can also prioritize activities in real time – for example, if a ticket is raised due to a major problem such as a leak, it is able to prioritize this over scheduled maintenance activities and then ensure that the maintenance activities are rescheduled at a later date. Leading workflow management systems are also able to match employee skills to specific tasks, and can coordinate overall projects involving multiple workers.