Managing a business today requires more than entrepreneurial zeal. The daunting complexity of a rapidly evolving commercial environment is demanding. Simply put, companies operate based on many interdependent processes. Understanding the relationships between processes and their constituent tasks is crucial to success.
Tasks, Processes and Relationships
Reliance on discrete, sequential tasks is a common characteristic of manufacturers, real estate developers and mechanics’ shops. Collections of these kinds of tasks, which are repetitive, constitute processes. For example, a ballpoint pen company must coordinate many tasks. Manufacturing, selling and delivering pens are each a process consisting of many tasks. One modern tool used to manage these processes is workflow software.
Many times, tasks in a process, are dependent on other tasks in other processes. This characteristic means a hold-up at any step may halt the process, resulting in negative customer experiences. Complex relationships between tasks and processes make effective management by individuals quite difficult. Companies like Mitratech develop automated workflow solutions that simplify business management.
Applying Automation Tools
When applied to large numbers of complex tasks and processes automation benefits companies. Improved communications and transparency are two key benefits of automating workflows. Events in one process can trigger documentation and notifications to downstream processes. Informed management can then act to sidestep delays and other problems.
The ballpoint pen company provides a good example. When a large order for pens gets logged into the system, several things happen.
• Automation software generates and sends emails to manufacturing, packaging and accounts receivable departments.
• The software issues requisitions to order the necessary parts to manufacture these pens.
• The system monitors progress as the order is being filled, notifying managers if unexpected issues arise.
This simplistic example hardly scratches the surface of automated workflow software capabilities.
Improved employee morale is often another side-effect of implementing process automation. Establishing transparency and clear lines of accountability eliminates confusion about roles and responsibilities. Employees who know where their responsibilities begin, and end, are more focused and productive.
Data is the lifeblood of modern business. Collecting and organizing information about processes is another benefit of workflow automation. Furthermore, systems that perform high-level analysis contribute to strategic planning. Flagging notable trends for investigation gives managers opportunities to improve efficiency. Further analysis of data identifies appropriate responses to gain insights. Some software tools allow for the modeling of proposed scenarios to test their viability and predict outcomes.
Automation software facilitates more effective responses to management challenges. Advances in artificial intelligence promise better solutions for managing complicated business processes. This powerful, evolving tool, when effectively integrated, opens doors of opportunity.