How to Build a Pandemic Proof Business With Business Process Automation
Almost every small or large business in Australia has undergone a significant amount of transformation since COVID-19. The rapid move to long-term remote working solutions has left some business leaders tearing their hair out from redundant processes, manual handling and data error. The importance of business process automation has risen dramatically. But there is a catch – automating processes often requires time, attention and resources to implement.
Firstly, what is business process automation (BPA)?
Business process automation refers to the use of interconnected and integrated technology to execute recurring tasks or processes in an organisation to replace the manual or offline effort. If applied correctly, it will minimise costs, increase efficiency, increase digitisation and streamline processes.
Business process automation can be applied to any organisation, regardless of size, and should be at the core of any new processes, products or service line rolling out.
Throughout the pandemic, Cloud Solutions Group delivered multiple low-cost and low code business process automation solutions that were designed to be deployed quickly in the face of a dynamic pandemic environment. Some examples include:
Automation of COVID compliance and Return to Work App - (read the case study here) - in this scenario the customer wanted to automate and digitise their office sign-in and COVID compliance requirements for staff returning to work. Instead of managing multiple manual forms, sign-in sheets and office day pass applications, this simple system has now allowed for this new process to be conducted seamlessly and without additional workload.Another customer required a Return to Work app so employees could request the days that they work in the office, and the days that they work from home using an app on their phone. Employees were also required to complete an ergonomic questionnaire regarding their home office set up and take photos using the app. View the video here.
Automation of Web order Picking and Shipping
Covid 19 resulted in significant increase in retail web sales, and Munro Footwear Group needed to improve web order turnaround quickly. Working with Cloud Solutions Group, Munro introduced a Pick and Ship App that enabled their stores to more easily complete their web orders. The App enables the retail stores to action orders in real time, rather than work off a list provided to stores each morning and afternoon. Using an iPad, the retail employees can take the order info with them into the storeroom - they don’t have to write the details down from the front computer to pick! The shipping label is also now printed straight from the app! Listen to the case study podcast here.Automation of Purchase Orders and Expense Management
Purchase order (PO) requests and expenses are recurring processes in most organisations. The requesting team fills out a form and sends it to the purchasing or payroll team. The approving authority then examines the request and approves or rejects the request if the information is inadequate or if there are budgetary constraints. If not approved, the PO or expense is sent back and forth in a confusing array of emails, file notifications and incomplete system updates. A number of errors and under or overpayment can occur from this process which is why it is useful to automate.
Cloud Solutions Group worked with Madgwicks Lawyers to automate their expense management process, digitising and ensuring accuracy across the entire process. Read the case study here.
“Cloud Solutions Group’s expense app provided us with a consistent, auditable and streamlined process for dealing with expense claims. Far removed from the paper-based system where time was spent chasing up extra information and receipts.”
- Scott Butler, IT and Project Delivery Manager
So, when considering business processes - which ones should you automate?
Business process automation can range far and wide across your organisation, and interact with internal and external stakeholders. When analysing a workplace for their automation requirements, we will often focus on processes that:
- Have a high volume of tasks or steps to complete;
- Require multiple people communicating via phone or email to execute;
- Are of time-sensitive nature or run on a 24 hour schedule;
- Are impacted by other processes and systems, and often result in backlog;
- Require compliance or are part of audit trails; and
- Have multiple online and offline components; i.e. filling out hand-written sheets.
Where to start?
When considering best practices for business process automation, it is important for project teams to have a pragmatic and thorough approach to the automation process. Applying a business process specialist, or someone who can deep-dive and challenge “why” processes are being done a certain way is the key to success.
Finally, it is important to consider ready made solutions such as Microsoft PowerApps or the Cloud Solutions Group Application Portfolio to design and deploy your business process automation without having to go through costly and lengthy change management cycles.