Keen to streamline your business processes? Technology could be the answer says Mitch Tomazic-Spanger, from business solutions company Unify Services, who is currently working with Viva Energy.
Technology can work wonders for a business.
Among others things, it can automate business processes that, for the most part, have previously been done by individuals. This means technology can reduce processes from 20 manual steps to one automated step, or the one step done by a person can become a check and balance rather than a complex action.
We're working with Viva Energy on automating and improving the accuracy of its reporting, and its relationship and marketing spend, in order to give it a competitive advantage. Ultimately, what we're trying to do is ensure Viva Energy's marketing dollars are spent effectively and efficiently by implementing new technology and business processes.
Criteria to consider
When deciding whether to change business processes using technology, there are criteria to look at and questions to consider.
- Ask yourself what's broken or what's the opportunity you're trying to address.
- Consider the business driver to address that opportunity or resolve that problem.
- Determine the quantifiable. How are you going to measure success? For example, is success going from 20 manual steps to one? Is it having one person doing the work that was previously done by five? Is it a reduction in cost from one million dollars a year to $100,000? Is it a reduction or elimination of human error?
Do the groundwork
- Evaluate the situation. Sit down and figure out what you're going to do and why, the drivers for how to do it, and how you're going to measure your success. Do you want to save time and money? Are you going to increase efficiency and effectiveness? Are you going to improve data accuracy?
- Don't be afraid to be creative. There's so much technology out there and a lot of people just use one or two per cent of the available capabilities. For example, people use a very small part of Office365's capability in their day-to-day work or, when using Tableau for analytics, they only focus on automation of existing reports, ignoring the multitude of other ways this software can revolutionise their workplace.
- Make sure the technology you already have, and what you're already paying for, is being used to its full potential and effectively before buying more software and equipment. There is also the example of low per-user cost add-ons such as LiveTiles.nyc, which turns Office365 into an amazing digital workspace solution for improved productivity, collaboration and staff engagement.
- Have a strategy in relation to technology. Technology changes quickly. Your strategy will change as technology evolves, but it's imperative to have something that you're actually working towards. This means when you do successfully implement the technology and see the finished product, you can learn from it and start again with another element of your business.
It's also important to take your staff on the journey and identify early adaptors who can really accelerate the uptake of technology in your business and act as key advocates for change. There's no point in implementing a business tool no-one is going to use.
Importantly, any digital strategy that you produce must relate to your business strategy and marketing strategy with easily identifiable and quantifiable business results.
Steps to take
Now you're ready to implement the technology. There are considerations here, too.
- Internal or outsourced? Some companies, such as large corporate environments, will have the internal capabilities to implement the new technologies. However, it generally comes down to resource management. Is it more effective and efficient to outsource to a company who specialises in delivering the outcomes you require, or will it be better to educate your internal staff so they can perform the work in house?
- Find a trusted and reputable technology partner. If you do outsource, you need someone who can provide, implement and troubleshoot the technology. Make sure you engage experienced people and that they focus on the business outcomes, not just on the hype of the technology. Besides, most organisations are moving away from large capital investments and towards software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service solutions, which have a much better return on investment and lower total cost of ownership.
Improving your business processes using technology does take some thought, planning and investment, but given the time and cost savings that will result it is definitely worth considering.
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