Is your business making the most of digital processes to improve efficiency and win over customers from your competitors?
Creative integration of digital technologies is expected to be the greatest source of competitive advantage for 30 percent of organizations in 2020, according to Gartner. These systems need to be chosen with care to make sure you're investing in areas that will reap the biggest benefits.
Upgrading your digital workplace can be a big investment, but by empowering yourself and your employees with the tools to do your jobs faster, easier and better, you can better serve your customers' needs and drive business growth.
What are business processes?
Business processes are the basic steps that need to be accomplished on the way to achieving specific business objectives. In a factory, this can be assembling a product or quality control. In an office, it can be sending out emails, helping customers with a query, generating new leads, getting approvals and other mundane tasks.
When these processes are predictable and repeatable, they're prime candidates for automation. The aim of implementing digital processes isn't to make human workers redundant, but to free you and your team from the most tedious and time-consuming parts of the job so you can spend those hours or days more productively.
The main benefits of setting up digital processes are:
- Higher productivity – with less time wasted on admin, more time can be spent on valuable activities to grow your business.
- Lower costs – business processes will pay for themselves over time in efficiency and labor savings.
- Improved communication – using collaboration apps and workflows, everyone on your team will know who's supposed to be doing what, and when. This also helps to reduce costly errors.
How to integrate business processes
Before you overhaul your business processes, you need to be sure you're investing in the right areas. This means going back to your business goals and choosing systems that will help you achieve these more efficiently.
If you're not tech savvy, talk to people who are to find out what fundamental changes you might need to make to stay compete and future-proof your organization against likely developments in your industry. Talk to the people on your team to find out which activities are the most time-consuming and how they feel they could do their jobs better.
When you've decided on the systems you want to implement, create a roadmap to share with your team and appoint someone to supervise the transition if you won't be doing it yourself. There's always a learning curve involved when introducing new technologies, so you need to allow enough time for training to upskill your team or fill newly created roles. Before long, you'll all be up to speed and more productive than before.
What processes do you need?
Business processes can be introduced at all levels of an organization. They may be external (client or customer-focused) or internal (improving productivity, decision making and other areas of your business).
There's no one-size-fits-all solution for a digital transformation. The ever-expanding range of digital technologies for workplaces means there are specialized processes to suit any business that will adapt to your changing needs as you grow, so it pays to research what's available and to compare service providers to make sure you're getting the best deal and working with a company you trust.
If you or your team spend time every day on repetitive processes, automating these will give you all that time back. This will also prevent human error, so you won't have to spend even more time fixing avoidable problems.
Process automation in forms such as artificial intelligence, automated workflows and management software is getting more affordable all the time, so small businesses can now benefit from solutions that weren't accessible just a few years ago. This can streamline everything from accounting to marketing, sales and procurement.
Read more: The 10 best time management apps to boost your productivity
The faster you, your team and your customers can find the information you need, the faster you can complete projects and the happier your customers will be.
Smart library and catalogue processes can deliver accurate, contextual results, so there's less time wasted playing detective or having to settle for inferior data. Virtual assistants can guide customers or clients to the information they need.
If you run a customer-facing business or deal with clients, you need to be more impressive than your competitors. Digital processes can help you deliver an improved and consistent customer experience.
Automated customer relationship management (CRM) software processes customer information faster to help you make leads and sales. Having more customer data means you can offer more personalized recommendations and proactively respond to customers' needs before they know they have them. With virtual assistants and chatbots, you can provide customer service 24 hours a day.
Read more: 7 useful tips for effective CRM
Process automation doesn't just boost employee productivity; it also improves satisfaction. Let software take care of employee onboarding and the boring parts of the job so your team members can spend more time using their talents.
With cloud-based and mobile technologies, team members aren't confined to the office and can work from anywhere at any time. Involve team members in the decision making process to make sure you're investing in technologies that will really make a difference.
Business process management can strengthen security for your valuable business data and customer data. On the flip side, poor-quality or poorly-implemented processes could actually put you at greater risk if they leave you vulnerable to attacks.
High-profile cases of malware, ransomware and other cyberattacks in recent years have emphasized the need for strong security for businesses of all sizes and have understandably made some business owners wary of hosting their data and services in the cloud. That's why it's essential to check the reputability of service providers and choose a firm that prioritizes security, so you know you're in safe hands.
Security processes to implement include regular automatic backups and audits, controlling website access for contributors and revoking access if someone leaves your organization. Security processes should be thoroughly tested in worst case scenarios to give you peace of mind.
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