When business processes break

Processes that don't work impact on your company's bottom line.

Johannesburg, 19 Feb 2018
Read time 4min 10sec
Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager, Nintex.
Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager, Nintex.

If you consider the processes within your business, they probably appear to work just fine. New employees come on board, sales people sell, orders are delivered and the business chugs along. Occasionally there's a hiccup, such as a new hire not having an e-mail address allocated to them or the occasional document disappearing, but by and large the processes seem to work fairly smoothly.

What's not immediately apparent is that it can take up to a month before a new appointee is properly onboarded and that employees frequently have to recreate documents that are lost en route to their destination. All of which takes time, resources and impacts on productivity - and ultimately your bottom line.

It would probably shock you to know that nearly half of your employees consider your business processes to be ineffective and that this could even result in them looking for alternative employment. This covers both document management and administrative processes within the company. Over and above the fallout from having high staff turnover, there's the impact on customers who receive less than ideal service because your business's processes just aren't up to scratch.

A study of corporate America's most broken processes highlights five areas of concern that impact most businesses, regardless of geographical location. These include technology troubleshooting, access to tools and documents that enable good job performance, annual performance reviews, promotions and employee onboarding. Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager at Nintex, says it's a pretty safe bet that every single business in South Africa is suffering from at least one of these processes being dysfunctional.

While broken processes most certainly impact on the business and its employees, they also affect customers. When companies rely on manual, siloed processes the customer journey can all too often resemble a maze, where they're pushed from pillar to post in their attempts to get assistance or clarity. This can result in them taking their business elsewhere.

Gous continues: "There's the syndrome that we refer to as document mismanagement. This is when employees need certain documents but can't track where they are in the system and this results in slow and manual processes becoming even slower and more labour intensive. It takes longer to sign off on projects or stages in projects. If you're reliant on manual processes, a printer that doesn't work means you can't print out documents to sign. You spend your days moving pieces of paper around the company, all of which takes time and, in the long run, money. It's easy to see how people can become so mired down in manually moving pieces of paper around that they lose sight of the end goal, which is servicing their customer efficiently and effectively."

While today's businesses largely tend to have adopted a measure of digitalisation, the majority of business processes are stuck in limbo between digital and paper, resulting in a hybrid that's neither one nor the other. Some staff members are simply more comfortable with paper - or they find the digitised processes too complicated to adopt, so stick with what they know. The problem with this approach is that it costs the business both time and money, and is open to human error as an expensive mistake could be made based on the wrong version of a document, where various digital and paper versions exist, for example.

Gous says: "Any workflow and document automation initiative needs to be driven from the top down in order to be effective. Today's digitalisation journey goes beyond just storing and tracking documents. It's now about incorporating documents into workflow automation technology that makes documents smarter and data driven. So you get a digital document that is able to auto-complete certain information, and that will automatically include required content from a compliance perspective, for example."

Five reasons to automate document-based processes:

1. Combining workflow and content automation reduces the number of products you need to buy and support - and your employees only have to learn how to use one technology. It removes information silos and allows content and data to move between apps, people and processes.

2. Paper documents are slowing your business down. Create documents more intelligently, with less human input.

3. Automation leads to faster, more satisfactory customer experiences.

4. Grow revenues faster as a result of improved efficiency across the business. When more work is being accomplished, revenues will grow.

5. Use the data that's being generated through automation to improve or even radically change the way you do things.

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