Investing money and time in a workflow solution holds the promise of significant value. However, if you have not utilized a workflow software solution in the past, you may be asking yourself: What benefits should I expect to gain from a workflow solution, and how can I make the right investment and deliver ROI? To help you think about this, in this series of blogs we’ll discuss five things you should consider. Previously, we discussed increasing employee morale and enhancing customer experience. Next, let’s discuss driving competitive advantage.
What you deliver is only half of what your customer receives. The other half is invisibly bundled up in how they receive it. Was your product or service delivered on time? Did the specs match what they ordered? Was it delivered within the prescribed budget? If they called or logged in to inquire about it along the way, were your staff or systems able to find it and provide meaningful information? And finally, were your processes smooth enough to facilitate producing a profit, so that you can afford to provide the excellent customer service to which your organization aspires?
How can your competition sell their products at a price lower than what you can offer, yet appear to also be making a more robust profit? We reviewed process challenges with a company and learned that interdepartmental communication breakdown and a lack of visibility for work-related information resulted in large customer orders having errors and delays that significantly increased internal costs. Those costs exceeded acceptable ranges, leading to further time sinks as somewhat predictable investigations ensued, and the project margins and ship dates were further eroded. Multiple departments pointed fingers at one another with nobody willing to own up to any of the root causes. Executives were not focused on blame; instead, their main concern was to learn what needed to change to prevent the mistake from becoming a negative pattern. However, without empirical data, the effort to make decisions that yield beneficial change was difficult and inherently subjective. This left the company inwardly focused, which is a negative and risky position when contrasted to performant competition.
The antithesis to this is well-orchestrated and well-documented work that shows who ordered, completed, received, approved, or declined what, and when and why they did it. But remember, our people do not want to “feed the machine,” so we have to make recording all of this data easy and keep the records themselves out of their way until that data is needed. Auditing of past work is not focused on blame; it is focused on having the data necessary to make positive forward decisions about streamlining work, reducing errors, eliminating bottlenecks, and accelerating and facilitating success. This will help you deliver competitive advantage the same way Amazon does, by delivering consistent, predictable, and transparent results. This is empowered by having the data necessary to find and iron out issues when they arise.
Your workflow solution should provide competitive advantage by:
- Increasing employee effectiveness, which reduces labor costs.
- Reducing costly mistakes via automated guardrails that keep teams on track.
- Providing real-time visibility, metrics, and enhanced communications that optimize decision support, speed, and effectiveness.
- Delivering the ability to deploy solutions quickly and to easily make changes when they are necessitated by changed business requirements or new opportunities.
- Providing the insights necessary to identify where processes can or need to be enhanced.
- Identifying where resources are best allocated, based on historical evidence.
- Highlighting where training resources should be applied.
In Part 4 of this series we’ll discuss how a workflow solution should reduce operational risk.
This post originally appeared on WorkflowOTG.com. Looking for more information on workflow, business process optimization and digital transformation? Be sure to check out Workflow magazine and subscribe to Workflow eReport.