Today's business enterprise is in a state of continuous change—the pressure to optimize performance while lowering costs is enormous. The real-time expectations of the 'now' economy is no longer limited to manufacturing and shipping but is driven by information services, an increasingly mobile workforce and time-sensitive legislation. This means that quick response, transparency and real-time reporting are essential.
So with all this going on, how do you manage your business processes to make sure you stay ahead of the competition?
When the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
One flipside of a growing business is that processes and technologies tend to evolve on a piecemeal basis. This creates business processes that are designed, structured, supported and run totally independently of one another. It becomes a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
As you would expect—and probably know only too well—this leads to duplication in technology and manpower. Best practices are nigh-on impossible. Enterprise-level integration is expensive, painful and time consuming. Your business becomes more susceptible to security and compliance risks and less agile, less innovative, less informed and less able to manage costs.
So what's the solution?
Hands off for a hands-on approach
Bill Gates said: "The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency." The multi-billionaire knows what he's talking about.
It's shocking how many enterprises still undertake critical processes manually. Fear of change seems to hold back many people who are in a position to transform the system.
In the insightful words of Belasco and Stayer in their management tome, The Flight of the Buffalo: "Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up." So if, for example, if your financial close takes 20 days and your competitor is doing it in half the time because they've automated, you really should be thinking about the value behind making a change.
Enterprise-bridging solutions that tie up every process, end-to-end, under one ubiquitous automated platform do now exist. What's more, you can go for a process-as-a-service option run from the cloud so your business critical processes become easy, agile and cost-effective, freeing you to focus on your core business.
It's no longer a question of 'Can this be done?' but of 'How do we get this done?'
Here are some examples from our own client portfolio here at Redwood, in which automation has saved companies millions of dollars:
A U.S. electricity supplier increased cash flow receipts by $10 million per month through connecting and automating their meter -to-cash process.
A Fortune 50 aeronautics and defense company improved its bottom line for every single contract, and reduced its financial close from two weeks to two-and-a-half days.
A Fortune 500 industrial supply company eliminated latency and reduced the time to process order-to-cash transactions from 36 hours to six hours, which allowed them to comply with the mandated 24-hour GAAP standard requirement.
Automate or lose
It's never easy to step out of your comfort zone, but as corporate budgets remain tight post-recession, it's important to consider that the upfront costs and inconvenience you might associate with switching to an automated system will be wiped out quickly by the costs saved by streamlining many manual processes into one automatic one. Automation isn't only about efficiency; it's about responsibility. Saving your company money that can get passed on to other departments (or even to the customer) will, in the long run, more than make up for any short-term drawbacks to change.
About the Author: Ben Trowbridge is an accomplished Outsourcing Advisor with extensive experience in outsourcing and managed services. As a former EY Partner and CEO of Alsbridge, he built successful practices in Transformational Outsourcing, BPO, IT Outsourcing, and Cybersecurity Managed Services. Throughout his career, Ben has advised a broad range of clients on outsourcing and global business services strategy and transactions. As the current CEO of the Outsourcing Center, he provides valuable insights and guidance to buyers and managed services executives. Contact him at [email protected].