Workflow Optimization: How to Start Efficient Digital Business Process Transformation
Whether you’re looking for ways to deal with siloed inefficiencies, boost employee productivity, or just improve how your business operates, every team can benefit from organizational workflow optimization, transformation, and automation. As studies show, most IT leaders say that transforming inefficient workflows helped them save at least 11-30% of the time previously spent on manual processes, reduce costs by 11-30%, and increase productivity by 25-30%.
Here we want to cover the most important aspects of business processes transformation, challenges it helps solve, workflow optimization examples, and recommendations that may help you achieve organizational agility and growth.
Why take on workflow optimization?
While the pandemic only intensified the need for the optimization of processes, the companies have always understood that to thrive they need to deliver better customer experiences and be more agile in the case of disruptions.
The problem is that lots of organizations still use time-consuming, inefficient and manual workflows for managing customer engagement, finance, and other high-value operations. Automating and optimizing these workflows should be a priority if you want to build connections between systems and create an intelligent enterprise.
Some common reasons to start optimizing workflows include:
- Siloed teams and processes are not efficient enough to align with a customer-first approach
- Incomplete or fragmented data provides poor visibility and hinders accountability
- Rigid processes and IT systems can’t handle intricate and variable activities necessary for driving value
Changing how enterprises function with digital transformation
Through digital workflows, digital transformation has empowered businesses to create seamless user experiences, reduce repetitive tasks, and take advantage of extremely valuable insights. Its benefits stretch even further and affect the entire enterprise driving its growth, innovation, and agility.
Reenvisioning and rearchitecting existing workflows helps achieve considerable improvements in the main areas of your business:
- Business process optimization. With data silos that are difficult to access and use, too many process exceptions, outdated technologies, and lack of insight into current processes, business process transformation can be challenging, But investing the time and effort into automating and optimizing processes will lead to cost savings, fewer errors, and better performance. Companies with optimized workflows have much better chances of competing with organizations that still use rigid and outdated patterns of cooperation. For a successful digital transformation strategy, integrating processes across the organization and its systems is the key.
- Improved customer experience. Business process transformation not only increases productivity but, as stated by 88% of decision-makers, the speed and agility it offers have a great impact on improving customer experience and ensuring customer satisfaction. With optimized workflows, companies can more quickly adapt to evolving customer expectations, meet their needs, and support them, providing better service at a lower cost. Internal processes transformation are directly linked to external-facing activities, and, therefore, can either hinder or drive growth.
- Better employee experience. Without a doubt, business process transformation cannot be discussed apart from employees’ experience. Automation and optimization, first of all, affect their efficiency in performing daily, routine tasks. A large share of decision-makers (77%) agrees that workflow modernization empowers employees to deliver results that matter more efficiently.
Workflow optimization examples: How you can digitize and transform essential business processes
Modernizing workflows has an effect not only on separate departments but also on a greater scale, as it opens opportunities for digital transformation across the entire organization. Some examples of workflow digital transformation include:
Digitally transforming sales processes enables teams to spend more time on high-value, relationship-building activities. Leveraging technology for sales business process transformation brings in the following improvements:
- better visibility over the sales pipeline
- consistent reports
- more efficient communication between sales managers
- a centralized database, and more.
Through automated practices, better insights, and increased personalization, businesses can not only react to their customers' needs but rather anticipate them. One of the ways to do it is by embracing customized software. Our client built B2B sales management software to streamline operations such as managing mobile phone contracts, hardware sales, commission control, marketing automation and more, needed for successful sales management across telecom shops.
According to the Forrester report 2020, almost none of the recruiters say the hiring process is mostly or fully automated except 3% and most acknowledge that it’s greatly subject to variability. Almost 30% of HR decision-makers say they can only use a small amount of data available.
While the competition for top talent is strong, companies with an inefficient recruitment workflow have little chance of competing against digital-first enterprises for skilled workers who are already scarce. Thus, having a robus recruitment process in place, supported by technology and automation, is crucial for attracting and securing top talent in today's competitive job market. Digitizing your HR processes eliminates the risk of losing out on valuable talent.
You can discover more about digital transformation in the recruitment workflow in our recent case study of custom hiring software development - HireAction.
A tool for KPI management can automate the processes related to key performance indicators management, development, and evaluation. KPI management software helps businesses create, manage, visualize and analyze these metrics and acknowledge how they’re performing against targets, strategic goals, or objectives.
As a part of the Poly project - a custom B2B facility management app, we’ve been working on KPI dashboard development. As a result, it became a one-stop solution for insights necessary to make data-driven decisions, tackle inefficiencies, and move the business forward more effectively.
Adopting a customer relationships management (CRM) system helps to administer and analyze all your interactions with clients, keep all your prospects' and customers' data in one place, and bring clarity and structure to sales and marketing workflows. This information can help you when crafting engaging content to get more Story views or when designing personalized marketing campaigns.
The functionality includes storing leads’ and clients’ contact information, setting labels and priorities, automating correspondence and marketing activities, etc. It provides your internal teams with tools to cooperate and remove friction in the buyer’s journey.
As a growing outsourcing software development company, Apiko needed a comprehensive system that would streamline our sales processes, satisfy the needs of every person engaged in customer services, and include:
- A database with the contact information of all the current and potential clients, and companies that we work with.
- A storage of all interaction history and relevant documents.
Though there are many ready-to-use CRM platforms available on the market, none of them were a perfect fit for Apiko’s business processes. So, we decided to build custom CRM software with basic functionality and add new features as our needs grew. It resulted in a tailored system that perfectly automates, optimizes and streamlines sales management processes at Apiko.
Automating work orders.
One of the common challenges for companies is scheduling work orders. Some still use Excel sheets to manage them, however it’s a manual, error-prone, and time-consuming process that slows things down and prevents real-time reporting.
A work order system helps keep all the tasks in one place, add necessary requirements, assign people responsible, and track their progress. One more way to optimize operations is to design a calendar for smooth task scheduling or integrate a third-party tool into your enterprise system.
A calendar can help you create tasks, assign them to employees, monitor the activity of workers and see how much work has been done. The software for work order management can also include status updates, accurate reporting, and even grant easy access to the system through mobile devices.
Discover our case study of the construction digitalization project to learn more about workflow automation.
What to consider during optimization and business process transformation
If you want to get further in your digital transformation journey and successfully deliver modernization objectives, a well-thought-out strategy is the key. While the stakes are high, below we’ve compiled a few recommendations worth considering to navigate the complexities of workflow optimization.
Rethink your processes. Implementing changes always starts with a vision of where you are now, what you want to achieve in the end, and an understanding of what you need to do to bridge this gap. To get a better idea of the current state of your business, map out all the processes, people, and systems. Use it to analyze existing workflows and identify your vision for business process transformation.
Create a roadmap. A roadmap to digital transformation outlines the changes that need to be made and all the subprojects that together constitute your business modernization journey. Each subproject should be broken down into goals, milestones, timeframes, and budget. Also, it is important to take into consideration all the people, processes, and systems that will be affected by the business process transformation.
Adopt an integrated approach. Digital transformation affects many different aspects. It doesn’t end with the creation of new tools or systems. If one process is changed, it may have an impact on other areas of your business. To succeed in business process modernization, you need to look at all parts of your business as a whole. Creating an intelligent enterprise starts with integrating new digital solutions with other existing systems in your organization to streamline the overall business performance.
Automate. Reenvisioning how things are done and creating intelligent, optimized workflows equip employees with insights and technology for better results. Digital transformation drives continuous improvements when the right tools are in place. Organizations still struggle to move away from legacy systems as well as manual processes and adopt intelligent solutions that will help them build an integrated and automated enterprise.
You can use ready-made solutions, third-party tools already available on the market to help you automate manual or inefficient processes (e.g. accounting software - Xero, contact relationship management platform - Hubspot, etc.). Or, you can create custom software perfectly suited to your business particular needs and goals and extend its functionality by embedding third-party tools.
Re-evaluate. In the dynamic market environment where customers' needs keep changing, sustaining digital transformation relevance can be a challenge if you don’t reassess and re-evaluate. While things don’t remain the same, every business owner should keep an eye on whether the business process transformation roadmap remains appropriate to his needs and implement changes where needed.
Every organization's digital transformation journey is different. Deep analysis of your current operations lets you start your workflow optimization road at the appropriate level, based on your current status and business goals.
What processes and operations do you need to transform? What digital solutions will help deliver the fastest ROI? As you’re ready to engage in organizational workflow transformation, look for solutions that can grow with your business. And if you need any help with building custom digital tools to meet your specific requirements and goals, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!