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Question Everything You Know about Your Business Processes

business processes

There may have been a time when an organization’s automation strategy was defined primarily by siloed, ad hoc, and task-based workflows. Now, however, the most effective and impactful initiatives require business leaders to ask bigger, more challenging questions beyond simply what tasks can be automated and the ROI on cost reduction. Here is how to question everything you know about your business processes.

Successful digital transformation in today’s landscape necessitates leaders having a better picture of how things are working interconnectedly and how users are truly operating within the process boundaries to be enhanced and improved universally to improve customer outcomes.

True digital transformation does not simply digitize analog processes. It’s about integrating intelligence into business-critical processes across every facet of your business and engagement. As more companies realize they need to become digitally intelligent in a new era of digital-first consumers, accelerated automation adoption, and advancements in technology, organizations will benefit from adopting a more holistic approach to transforming their business.

Question the Status Quo

Questioning how things have always been done enables business leaders to find more effective ways to drive results.

Every business process within your organization contains an opportunity to improve outcomes, revitalize customer experiences, fix inefficiencies, or find new service opportunities for revenue generation. Here are three questions that business leaders need to ask to unlock opportunity and advance digital transformation initiatives that have the greatest impact.

  1. Do you really know your process workflows?

By their very nature, highly manual processes, such as inputting invoice data or new customer information, are prone to human error and oversight. In highly regulated industries, such as financial services and insurance, this can be problematic and can contribute to increased risk and decreased compliance. Likewise, in healthcare, inefficient processes can lead to negative patient outcomes.

Understand processes.

Understanding your processes and pinpointing potential vulnerabilities is a good first step to take before deploying automation initiatives. Then, leveraging the right solutions to automate important processes intelligently.

Negotiations

These processes include all such negotiations as mortgage and credit card applications, account opening, and business loan applications helps organizations minimize inefficiencies and inaccuracies, therefore helping facilitate improved internal and regulatory compliance.

Machine Learning

With advances in machine learning and predictive analytics technology, you can understand exactly which processes are ripe for transformation, not just automated, to drive real change. Process Intelligence is a form of process mining and discovery that provides granular insight into an organization’s ecosystem of processes and behaviors, enabling you to pinpoint opportunities for operational improvement.

Understanding how your processes are truly performing — down to knowing each worker’s performance – is indispensable to successfully deploy automation initiatives that deliver business results and accelerate tangible improvements.

  1. Are you accessing business-critical information?

You’d be surprised if you look close enough to how much paper (and fax) still exists in some processes. Those that are heavily paper-based can slow mission-critical workflows and negatively impact customer experience.

Likewise, valuable information is locked away in siloed systems. Various digital formats such as email correspondence, PDF, fax, and EDI can prevent you from having the right informatito make informed business decisions quicklyons.

Transform Content Centric Processes

Supercharge Growth

To supercharge growth and enhance profitability, organizations need to digitize and streamline content-heavy processes.

Digital

Digitizing, transforming, and automating customer forms, invoices, receipts, onboarding documents, application forms, claim submissions, and account documents can help lower administrative costs, reduce time to invoice and provide customers quicker service.

Data

When it comes to transformation projects, leveraging the right data and then sharing that data with key systems and stakeholders can be the difference between failure or success for meeting KPIs, service-level agreements, and other business outcomes.

  1. Are you getting the most out of your automation investment?

Optimizing and automating the right processes can significantly reduce costs and strengthen competitive advantage.

However, by themselves, automation platforms can only do so much, and in fact, many projects stall or fail. That’s because most automation platforms now employ software robots, which have a hard time understanding unstructured data and will repeat poorly designed workflows.

Intelligence Leveraging

Leveraging intelligence capabilities driven by OCR, natural language processing, and machine learning technologies can turn hard to process unstructured data into actionable information.

The knowledge gained is then ready for automation platforms such as robotic process automation (RPA), business process management (BPM), customer relationship management (CRM), and electronic resource planning (ERP).

Process intelligence capabilities can identify process bottlenecks or variances and recommend the best workflows for optimal efficiency.

Raising Your Organization’s Digital Intelligence

When organizations re-think the way they have traditionally approached digital transformation projects, they unlock opportunities to strengthen and revitalize their business.

Asking the right questions and leveraging the right technology enables organizations to transform critical operations and turn the vast amount of data into a wealth of meaningful, actionable information.

Automation isn’t the end goal but rather a vehicle for achieving better business outcomes.

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business processes effective time management Entrepreneurs maximize tech Productivity productivity methods Startups

8 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Improve Their Time Management Skills

time management skills

Entrepreneurs often think of an asset as funding for their startup, talent that provides a competitive advantage, or proprietary technology that differentiates their offerings in products or services. A company may not realize that just as valuable as all other resources — if not, more — is time.

Time is a critical asset — augmented by time management skills.

Time is worth its weight in gold because it’s limited and hard to come by. Entrepreneurs need time to handle every aspect of their business and keep it on the right track. When an entrepreneur has time and uses it wisely, they can do extraordinary things.

The problem is that entrepreneurs struggle like everyone else with how to effectively manage their time.

An entrepreneur constantly runs out of time to complete the long list of work and personal tasks they set for themselves. Similarly, they cannot account for where all the time went in a day, week, or even year.

And, since you can’t add hours to the day or days to the week, you will have to find another way to bank more time for the more important things in your business and life. That’s where good time management skills come into play.

Here are nine tips to help improve your time management skills as an entrepreneur:

1. Set limits and boundaries.

While it’s good to be open, flexible, and accessible as an entrepreneur, it’s also important to say “no� and establish boundaries when it comes to the most precious asset known as time.

Don’t accept unplanned meetings or teleconferences that you know will just suck up your time. Set limits on planned calls and put a cap on daily and weekly meetings.

2. Leverage Business Process Management (BPM) for greater time efficiency. 

Business Process Management (BPM) is another tactic that can help improve the use of time. According to Zahi Daniel, Founder of Adapt Solution, “BPM deployment tremendously enhances the time efficiency of the business processes. As the processes are being mapped and analyzed from start to finish, the tasks and process owners are notified automatically when they delegate responsibilities.�

Daniel’s adds, “A major contribution to time efficiency is the results of optimization and automation of the business processes. Those processes reduce redundancy and eliminate errors. Furthermore, all information is centralized, hence it is faster to allocate info and report when required.â€�

3. Maximize available technology.

Numerous tools have been created for the sole purpose of optimizing time. From virtual reality and video conferencing that saves physical trips to automated scheduling and bill payment to chatbots for customer service and support. These tools take care of time-consuming tasks for you.

4. Try productivity methods.

Many people have studied human behavior, use of time, and productivity levels to see if they could develop a hack to maximize tie use. One of these was Lee Ivy whose method has been used to prioritize tasks.

With the Ivy method, you need to make a list of six things to accomplish in a day and order them by priority. Stick to the first task on the list until it’s done before moving onto the next one.

When you get to the end of the day, you make a new six-task list for the next day and repeat the process. Now, there’s an app for that method that you can download and use instead of writing it out.

5. Prioritize and focus to work smarter.

You hear the word, “grind,â€� so much in connection with entrepreneurs. It’s admirable to work hard, and working hard is a needed skill — but a better approach is to also work smart. That means you need to work only on the value-adding activities in your business and let go of the rest.

Plus, you have a greater chance of getting significant results by focusing on those value-driven activities. For example, rather than handling supplies ordering, you could be finding and converting new customers, which yields greater revenues.

6. Don’t be afraid to delegate.

It’s understandable that you may not want to give out tasks that impact your business to others. After all, it is “your baby.� But, by keeping everything to yourself, you are not using your time wisely.

Relinquish that control over everything — especially the time-consuming stuff that just about anyone else can handle — and stick to what you do best as an entrepreneur.

Although you might initially use some money and time for training, tools, and communications, you’ll quickly win back considerably more time and money when you delegate tasks.

7. Learn on-demand.

Also referred to as Just-in-Time learning, this approach to time savings ensures you spend time learning, but your learning is done by doing the task, but only when it’s absolutely necessary to a company project or goal.

Although it is beneficial to have a continual learning spirit, you can get sucked into reading endless content about markets, technologies, and trends. If you have unstructured time, then you can do that.

In the meantime, focus on a strategy that has you tapping resources like YouTube videos, articles, or training resources when faced with a specific project that requires a knowledge or skills upgrade.

You’ll also learn the skill more quickly because the job is right before you — not a theory of what can go wrong. You see the problem — grab a YouTube or Google it — do the work. Done. That’s on-demand learning.

8. Stop overplanning and overthinking.

Waiting until you think something is perfect or you believe you know the outcome has the best of intentions. But, it is the worst use of time.

When you have done the research and have the information plus you have given it a thought, then you need to get started. Stop fussing over all the details and possible variables.

9. Revise. Rethink. Recharge. 

Among all the effort you take with time management, know that making improvements with how you use time will be an ongoing process.

You will need to rethink and revise your approach. Most importantly, you will need to put time aside to recharge away from work so you can be mentally prepared to continue optimizing your available time to meet your business goal.

Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels

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