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27

Apr

Forget the tools... How old are your business processes?

It’s been 34 years since the term ‘the paperless office’ was coined – and yet, all these years later, we still haven’t quite made it! 

Digital Transformation - Less Busyness, More Business

Despite many organisations embracing new tools and the concept of digital transformation (and seeing noticeable productivity gains as a result), it’s often the underlying processes that need looking closely at (along with our constant reliance on paper, of course) in order to bring about real and lasting change.

Business Process Automation (BPA) as a focus area is expected to grow from $3.4b to $10b this year alone. As companies look at how they maintain (or gain) a competitive advantage under this scenario, this change represents a significant opportunity for organisations to look at not just the systems – but equally as importantly, the processes – underpinning their operations. 

More than just “techies”

And, just as businesses are finding themselves re-evaluating, so, too are the technology implementers, like Intergen.

In recent years, technology transformation has increasingly become a conversation for business leadership rather than being solely the domain of the IT department.   

Our proposition has increasingly become one where technology is simply the enabler, and the real topics for debate is where can the greatest business value be achieved and how do we go about achieving this?

Put simply, technology enablers, like Intergen have had to shake off the label as just being great “techies” – We now have to understand the bigger picture to make sure that we’re offering the right advice.  

When we speak to New Zealand businesses today, we’re finding that most business processes were written 10-15 years ago when the world was a very different place. Those business processes would probably look very different if written now. For example, an early CRM system used to still require feedback via Post-It notes and paper, but now we take it for granted that we can use social tools such as Yammer to gather feedback in a paperless way.

However, with these new tools, comes the need to concentrate our efforts in change management as well as technology,

Now is a great time to re-evaluate these business processes and change how organisations are operating as well as the technology underlying the workflows.

It never ceases to amaze me when we see organisation using file shares to save 15-16 versions of a document – (in fact, the average number is 17 across any one business!). Not to mention the fact that some of New Zealand’s largest businesses run some of their most critical business processes using Excel spreadsheets…

We are ‘Digital’ already…. Aren’t we?

Another thing we’re seeing is that companies believe that they have ‘gone digital’ as they now have forms stored on a document management tool like SharePoint. However, to complete the form (take a leave request for example), users still have to print, complete, scan and then email to get approval.

Tools like Nintex are starting to make it easy for a power user to create online forms. In most cases, you don’t need to have any coding skills or perform heavy configurations; you simply create a form and some simple logic. And that’s only going to improve with new tools such as PowerApps, a Microsoft platform that lets you create automated business apps.

Another thing about Business Process Automation is that many businesses have invested in the tools but are not leveraging those platforms to the best use and ability. There is an abundance of paper still but no one wants to admit it. Leave forms, training applications… to name just a few of the areas where paper still dominates. There is a huge opportunity for organisations to improve employment engagement and make productivity gains by automating some of the high volume business processes. 

My predictions:

  • Code free applications: in the next 18 months creating simple forms and workflows using no code will become the norm.  
  • Mobile clients: forms on tablets and devices are already commonplace, and this will only become more prevalent. 
  • Document generation: The creation of automated official documents will greatly increase.
  • Electronic signatures: there is untapped potential here that organisations will soon begin to realise. For example DocuSign plays nicely with business integration tools and will help speed things up hugely as ‘sign off’ on paper is so often still required.
  • Paperless organisations: Businesses that look to eradicate paper throughout their business from end to end will start emerging.

 

This blog entry is part of the series Less Busyness, More Business, featuring blog posts from leaders across Intergen. Each blog will focus on the digital transformation themes raised in our digital transformation guide and delve deeper into what digital transformation means for New Zealand organisations in specific technology areas.

Digital Transformation - Less Busyness, More Business

Posted by: Lee Stevens, Solutions Specialist, Product Management & Marketing | 27 April 2016

Tags: Digital Transformation, Less Busyness More Business


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