Business process optimization as a precondition for digital business
Companies which simply digitized their processes and procedures as they were cannot be satisfied with their digital transformation since it has brought nothing but extra costs and trouble.
Digitalization of operations is the cornerstone for new business models and digital transformation. It is crucial, however, that enterprises adjust their business processes to the new digital reality first. Once optimized, the processes can be digitized and properly managed. By transforming processes to a digital base and implementing process management, we can make processes more transparent, visible and efficient, reduce exposure to business risks, and ensure compliance.
- 4/5 of companies assess the digital transformation as necessary for their survival.
Source: AIIM, 2019
Process management as an added value of business operations
It sounds great but the only way to actually make it happen is if we are willing to change. Very often the problem is trivial: old habits. Why change something that works, is already harmonized with the regulations, and enables our staff to do their work efficiently? When we start thinking like that, we have little motivation to invest in improvements. But actions which may have been reasonable or only viable in the paper-based environment can be done differently in the digital setting, which makes them more user friendly and more efficient also in terms of business performance.
Such optimization can be illustrated on a case of contract management. Many companies still use e-mail communication to coordinate contract contents with their internal stakeholders and business partners, and the parties involved are often confused as to which version is the latest. Authorship is unclear without the track changes option, the final version needs to be printed out, signed and mailed to other parties and the contract has to be made accessible to the parties for the duration of its term (e.g. during invoice validation stage). Finally, there is the issue of archiving.
Companies often complain about limited traceability and the risk of disclosure of confidential information. Process optimization offers multiple capabilities such as complete and traceable contract histories, stakeholder engagement in finalizing the content in the safe environment of a document management system (DMS), contract version management, e-signing and safe sharing with other partners, connectivity with other processes and documents, as well as safe and compliant e-archiving upon the expiry of the contract term.
Digital maturity for more effective improvements
Before deciding to digitize a process and selecting the provider who can help us, it is advisable to brainstorm all the needs and expectations, analyze them together with the key stakeholders, and draft a preliminary design for process improvements. These improvements should be implemented in the process before starting the digitization. If not, we risk doubling much of the work and potentially even threaten the feasibility of the digitization within the preset framework. Whenever possible, the selected provider should already be included in this phase.
Digitalization in business places a strong emphasis on connectivity with other IT systems and services, thereby facilitating process automation and reducing the number of errors in process execution.
Before moving on to implementation and management of the newly digitized process, it is essential that you carry out training for key users. Experience shows that timely communication, engagement and training of users is the most important step towards effective implementation of change in any organization.
There is another step we tend to skip: monitoring of the digitized process. Monitoring helps us detect any deviations from the set goals in due time and implement further optimizations before the matter gets out of hand.
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