It would be awesome if you could just press a button and optimize your business processes and your workforce. Sadly, it is not that easy. However, optimization is both possible and advisable because the benefits outweigh the time and effort required to optimize your business fully.
But technology is not the panacea for everything. Human intervention and critical decision-making play an essential role in optimizing any and every aspect of your business. This article will therefore focus on two areas of business that can yield tangible results when optimized: Workforce Optimization (WFO) and Business Process Optimization.
In our most recent blog on this topic, we noted that the first thought that comes to mind when discussing workforce optimization is empowering employees to do their best work. We also pointed out that this can be achieved in several ways.
While this may seem to be nothing more than common sense, the reality is often different. For example, ensuring that every employee is in a role that best uses their skillset. Unfortunately, people are often pushed into positions that do not actually suit them. The result is not just mediocre performance, but also unhappy, even disgruntled employees.
Empowering and optimizing your workforce also requires providing every employee with the tools and resources they need to do an excellent job. Ask yourself these kinds of questions:
Do your employees need better hardware and/or updated software?
Might they perform better if they had the option to work from home?
Would flexible hours better suit any members of your staff?
When was the last they received a raise or a bonus?
Is your workplace attractive, inviting, warm enough in winter, cool enough in summer?
If you currently have a cubicle format, would an open floor plan encourage more collaboration?
If you currently have an open floor plan, might your employees prefer the relative privacy of a cubicle format?
Are your executives setting the right example for a balanced work/home lifestyle?
Is praise delivered when praise is due?
Are men and women compensated equally for the same jobs?
I could go on and on. But it boils down to this: To achieve workforce optimization, you should be open to new and different options for a harmonious and productive workforce.
Business Process Optimization
Business Process Optimization is a practice that falls under the umbrella of business process management(BPM). Organizations use it to achieve better business outcomes by analyzing the way their current processes are set up. The ultimate goal is to derive both monetary and non-monetary benefits for your company.
In these challenging times, with rising inflation, soaring freight costs, scarcity of materials, and unreliable delivery dates, business owners everywhere are looking for ways to improve processes, increase productivity, and cut costs. These are the outcomes that Business Process Optimization delivers.
What factors might be holding you back from process optimization? Off the top of my head, there are three possibilities:
You do not know where to start.
Your current processes have been in place and working okay for years, so you do not want to upset the apple cart.
You do not know what the optimization might cost at a time when funds are tight.
These are all valid concerns.
Your current business processes were likely established and set up at around the time of your existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system implementation. Just think: How long ago was that? In all likelihood, that timeframe can be measured in years, not months. So, the hard truth is: Now is the time to take another look at your processes to see precisely how and where they could be improved.
Software options and technologies are constantly evolving, with more significant opportunities for automation and smarter workflows fueled by business intelligence (BI), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). When you build BI, AI, and ML capabilities into your business processes, these processes will become more streamlined and more intuitive.
Where would you start? It would start with identifying the processes you want to optimize as well as those that you should optimize! It also begins with defining the purpose of each process and establishing goals for improvement. This is the analytical approach that the team at Strategic Systems Group (SSG) would take. It is what we have been doing successfully for our clients for the last 31 years!
What does business process optimization look like in the real world?
Maybe this is a problem that you have encountered. It is indeed quite common. Here is just one real-life example in the area of purchase orders.
You have multiple purchase orders that are clogging the work queue of the purchasing department. The department head senses that this problem is due to the way email approvals are currently being handled. To streamline requests, the department deploys a dedicated workflow management system. The workflow system allows employees to choose items that would be good candidates for automatic approval.
Once this is set up, the queue of purchase orders awaiting approval is significantly shortened. The time it takes for purchase order approval is also shortened considerably. And everybody is happy.
Before the pandemic, the timely processing of travel reimbursements was another problematic area that could have been improved with Business Process Optimization.
I am sure that you can identify problematic areas at your company. I am also sure you could tell me what you think is causing the issue. I am also relatively certain that realizing the issue costs you money and impacts productivity. You just do not know how to fix it. But we do!