When you’re working non-stop in a busy organisation, it can be difficult to take a step back and rethink how things should be done compared to how they’ve always been. However, as the business grows and technology progresses, often manual processes simply aren’t efficient enough to keep up with day-to-day requirements, time is wasted and errors are made – but all of this is avoidable.
We want to help organisations address this problem by building automated processes into the very foundations of a business.
Here, Rob Holmes, Managing Director and Co-Founder at RGS IT explains the value of process automation and reveals some quick wins to help your business take its first steps on your digital transformation.
1) Where do you start when working with a new business to improve their automation processes?
It’s all about understanding the client, their business, and daily processes. Every business is unique to a lesser or greater extent, and this is where bespoke systems can offer so much. However, in order to help a client to optimise their processes through automation, a solid understanding of that unique business is key.
2) How important is it to understand the business’ goals and strategy while looking at their processes?
This is critical.
Processes are rarely unfit for the purpose that they were aimed at handling. However, as a business grows, those processes become less appropriate for the future requirements of the business. So, in order to help a business progress, the direction of growth is key.
3) Name three “quick wins” for business process improvement / automation?
- Reduce data duplication.
- Avoid multiple data handling.
- Avoid leaving data hidden in ‘silos’ where it cannot be used by the wider business.
4) How do you calculate cost and benefits of your proposed improvements?
The costs are generally associated with the development and implementation of new systems. When we are embarking on a bespoke development, these costs can be high, given that new software, dedicated to the specifics of the business concerned requires a lot of time.
However, the invaluable benefits outweigh those costs in the short to medium term by reducing friction in the business, optimising processes, making data more readily available, improving accuracy etc. all of which contribute to a more efficient and profitable business.
The exact financial value of the benefit will depend on each individual business, but typically we would expect a ROI of less than two years.
5) Please provide a good example of a process automation project you have worked on and the results achieved
Within the recruitment and HR industry, we have spent a lot of time developing bespoke timesheet systems. Different industry sectors have different detailed requirements for the implementation of timesheets, and this can make the process of accurately capturing time and expense claims complex.
In a recent timesheet development, we transformed a business that was in a scenario where they were receiving timesheet data in multiple formats (some electronic, some paper-based), causing significant friction and cost in the business. The electronic timesheets rarely mapped seamlessly into their internal billing systems and paper submissions had to be re-typed, introducing errors and further cost and delays.
We built a mobile app-based timesheet system that modeled their own unique business, meaning that data was always entered promptly and accurately by the contractor who did the work, avoiding errors and delays. Because no further data entry was required, approvals were carried out promptly by designated line managers, and payments were instantly automated through the automated billing systems. This removed significant costs and processes were freed up and optimised.
For a population of upwards of 20,000 contractors, a mobile timesheet app like this one will be expected to produce an ROI within 12 months of a full rollout. Beyond that, the business will benefit from reduced costs, reduced timescales, and more accurate service.