What's your business process? I bet that a significant portion of both your day and your company's is taken up with fulfilling business processes. A good business has solid processes, however a great business ensures that they don't detract, but enhance the value their organisation offers. This article explores how business processes can be digitised into workflows. This ensures consistency, reduces business risk and enables you to scale.
Your business process IP
Your business processes are everywhere, let's define and agree upon how to identify a business process. For this article we'll use Techopedia's definition "A business process refers to a wide range of structured, often chained, activities or tasks conducted by people or equipment to produce a specific service or product for a particular user or consumer."
As you can tell, this is very broad. The key however is that the activities or tasks are chained. This means that for something to happen, one or multiple steps need to take place. This usually leaves you checking your inbox for someone to sign off or send something through!
The actual business process can look very different across industries and domains. Infact, you’ve likely developed specific intellectual property through your own business processes. If you trade on this then it’s of specific value to be documented and repeatable. Look at the list below and think if you’ve developed any specific IP for part of your business to solve these common examples?
- Manufacturing: order processing, engineering change control, product assembly, product line process, quality assurance, maintenance
- Finance: invoicing process, risk management process, the billing process.
- Health: medical assessment process, drug approval process, financial process.
- Banking: customer onboarding process, credit check process, the risk assessment process
- Travel: agent billing, trip booking, leave management process, business travel management process.
- Procurement: Purchasing, invoice reconciliation, accounts receivable.
- Advertising: Cost estimating, cost approval, cost reviewing.
- Sales and Marketing: Product delivery process, product development process, the marketing research process.
What is a workflow
Ideas are great, but now what? How do you actually digitise your business process? Excellent question! The answer in short is workflows.
When developing software applications, we leverage the Codebots Technology set. This enables us to quickly implement and customise a software behaviour into an application. As a software owner you can (in a much easier way) digitise your process into a workflow. You control the workflow within the admin section of the application and we customise it to fit your business process.
"In its most basic form, the Workflow behaviour does what it says on the box. It enables an administrator to create a series of states which can be applied against an entity (Database table), along with a series of transitions which can be used to move between them. Essentially, is it used to track the status of something." - Codebots Workflows Blog
To illustrate, we've created the following video to explain how you can setup and control your business process via workflows.
What's the business value in digitisation?
Now that you've thought about your business process and identified some areas where you have likely created some unique IP, why should you digitise them? As with all good things in business this comes down to increasing revenue and reducing costs to boost margins. There are many reasons to do this but here are our top three.
- Save costs and increase efficiency through personnel hours
Let's be honest, humans are pretty demanding. All these requirements; feed me! Pay me! I need sleep! Or the classic, I just didn't feel like doing it! All in all we're not the most suited to following business processes in a timely and cost efficient manner. Amazon are fanatical about this, so much so that they're now using robots to fulfil their requirements.
Your people should be doing what they do best, creating and working with other people. If you can increase efficiency to save costs, scale and increase your margins, this is the perfect business case to digitise your processes.
- New Revenue - Licensing
The second reason eluded to earlier is Intellectual Property (IP). Have you created a unique process for dealing with a problem in your domain? If you've solved the problem for yourself, it's highly likely that other people are still dealing with the same problem. Tanda are a great example of solving a problem and licensing the software solution. WorkingMouse specialises in creating SaaS (software as a service) solutions from your IP.
- Redundancy - Key Person Risk
Lastly, there are risks associated with not digitising your business process. If particular people are indispensable to you it likely means that they are holding knowledge that is critical to your IP. The best way to look at this is through the 'bus test.' Which personnel would your business not be able to function without and why? Naturally, we never want to think about this question. And in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to. But to mitigate the risk of key staff turnover, ask yourself whether you can digitise and document their process. If the answer is yes (or maybe) then mitigating redundancy is a good business case for digitising a workflow.
We recently had a customer come to us that had identified an opportunity that closely matches all three priorities. Aptus have developed a unique business process for designing and quoting the specifications for new buildings. The issue was that their IP was trapped in an Excel spreadsheet. Second to that, only 1-2 people knew how to use it. We migrated and digitised the business process into a web application so that the company's partners and employees could self serve using the system. This reduces costs and allows the company to scale up.
How to get workflows customised to your process
Excited to get your processes digitised into your own workflow? To do this, we start by defining your business problems and scoping a solution. No matter what tool you use, if it's not wielded properly the output will be off. Therefore, we have an in-depth scoping process that is solution focused. This enables us to solve the problem of digitising your business processes in the most valuable way.
To begin the journey we recommend you head over to download our Way of Working to learn more about the scope and development process.