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Improving Business Workflow With System Automation

Published: 11/2/2017 Author: Ben Cox

Let’s start here… Imagine a large array of gears. Each gear is representative of a process that is critical to your business. If one of those gears moves a little slower than the others, your entire system may be affected. So what is a business/business unit to do if there are processes that are negatively impacting the business? What is one to do if one of the gears in the array is moving slowly? How can a leader of a business unit identify the most inefficient processes and improve business operations?


When we work with clients, we often discover processes that are inefficient and time-consuming.  Our deep experience in process automation and workflow automation helps us evaluate business processes and find the gears that are slowing down your business operations. We can help your organization assess your current processes and help you set realistic improvement goals.


Some of your processes are repeatable and can truly take place with less direct action. These processes can be streamlined using system automation.


What is System Automation?

System automation is typically a solution that is put in place to help an organization perform tasks that need to be done the same way, over and over. A quality automated system helps organizations achieve a greater level of efficiency. An example might be a new employee on-boarding process. By applying automation to how you on-board employees, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to check all the required boxes when you hire a new employee. An automated system ensures that all paperwork is accounted for and that each department in the organization that has responsibility in the process has accomplished their assigned tasks. We have seen processes that typically take weeks reduced to just a few days using automation.


Kiefer has been designing automation solutions to improve business workflow for 29 years. These systems typically include the automatic routing of information, approval workflows, electronic forms to collect information, electronic signature collection to facilitate approvals, and dashboards to monitor and evaluate the efficiency of the business process.



Implementing System Automation

You might be thinking, “Where do I begin?” We suggest that you identify processes in your organization that lack automation, are based on the manual routing of information, involve paper-based forms, or offer poor visibility to where you are in a particular process.


Once you recognize that there are specific areas that could benefit from automation, let’s prioritize.


Step 1: 

Make a list of 5 processes in your business that the organization struggles with. Focus on the processes that are inefficient. Identify these processes by the overall impact to the business, effect on internal and external customers, and demand on resources.


Step 2: 

Rank the business processes on a scale from 1-5 according to how much time each process takes. The process that takes the longest gets a 5; the processes that takes the least amount of time gets a 1.

Step 3: 

Rank the same processes again, but this time according to which tasks have the greatest impact on internal and external customers. What processes affect your customers the most? What processes are the ones that your employees complain about most? The greater the impact, the higher the score. A process that results in frequent customer complaints should score a 5.


Step 4: 

Now, add the two scores. The processes with the highest scores are the ones you should look to improve first. Putting an automated system in place can have significant impact on your processes and can help you get all the gears moving in the right direction with better efficiency.


Once you apply automation to one process, you’ll gain the skills to tackle other inefficient business processes. You’ll understand how to assess your current state and architect a future state that addresses inefficiencies. It’s important to note that process transformation can address the process from end-to-end, or it can be iterative in nature. Kiefer has worked with clients to improve just one or two pieces of their process based on the customer’s appetite for change and the complexity of process re-engineering. We have examples where a client automated just one step in a process and it resulted in a significant positive impact on the entire process. This approach allows you to improve the process over time without introducing a completely new way of doing things.


Choosing the Right Tools for the System Automation

Before we prescribe the tools, we assess the current process and gather requirements.  We use a sophisticated toolkit and customize the system to make the existing process more efficient and predictable. Our relationship with Microsoft, expertise in Office 365, experience with workflow solutions (like Nintex and DocuSign), and executive dashboards helps us build and implement an automated system that addresses the business process challenges that many organizations face.

We have a portfolio of solutions that built to improve legacy processes that were slow, manual, and inefficient. You can check out our case studies to learn more about how Kiefer has helped clients implement automated systems.

If you are interested in performing a workflow assessment, analyzing time and motion, and ultimately implementing an automated system to optimize critical business processes, let’s talk! Contact Kiefer at info@kieferconsulting.com or call us at (916) 932-7220.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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