Business Process Improvement
Become a Better Business
Business process improvement is the proactive task of reviewing business processes, identifying problems and making improvements with the goal of helping every business process run smoother and more efficiently.
When your business processes have grown inefficient or ineffective, they often present obvious pain points. Redundancies, duplicate efforts, tasks taking too long to complete, multiple data points – these are all symptoms of business processes that need attention. What comes next, however, is perhaps more interesting – when broken processes are repaired, or old processes are innovated against, new opportunities emerge that maybe could have never existed before.
Custom Software for Business Process Improvement
Custom Software can help in business process improvement by:
- Eliminating friction in how data is shared and used
- Creating more efficiencies around existing business processes
- Helping to create entirely new and improved business processes where software, systems and applications are concerned.
An exciting product of improved business processes is the potential for entirely new approaches that can be realized when outdated processes are innovated against.
Process Improvement Software
Technology is continually changing, and the way we run our businesses is changing with it. Today, there are countless tech innovations to help companies manage their employees, marketing, operations, payroll, and more.
To put it simply, if your business isn’t keeping up with the latest technology, you’re falling behind. That’s where process improvement software comes in.
Never heard of process improvement software? Just read on. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the best software solutions from Intersoft Associates—and how process improvement can help your business thrive.
What Is Process Improvement?
Process improvement is a continuous function of any business. It is the proactive task of reviewing business processes, identifying problems, and making improvements. The goal is to help every process run smoother and more efficiently.
As a business grows and evolves, processes become complicated. Improving productivity and streamlining tasks is crucial in every industry. Of course, that’s easier said than done—process improvement requires in-depth organization and insight.
That’s where process improvement software can help. The experts at Intersoft Associates work with company leaders to implement software solutions that boost productivity, tighten budgets, and prevent wasteful practices.
The result is less costly, more efficient process management that will help your business grow by impacting the top line and the bottom line.
Process Improvement Software
Every business participates in process improvement – even if you aren’t aware of it! Searching for new ideas, taking surveys from staff members, and training staff in new positions are all examples of process improvement.
Time audits are another example. In a business, time is money. That means wasted time is equal to wasted money. Completing a monthly time audit is an easy way to evaluate and improve your processes.
Automation is one form of process improvement that requires a software solution. When a task is done automatically, instead of manually, it saves time and allows staff to focus on more important tasks. Automated payroll, data entry, and scheduling are all excellent examples.
The best process improvement software will help your business manage those automated tasks across departments. That way, everything is streamlined, integrated and organized.
Do You Need Process Improvement Software?
Does process improvement always require software solutions?
Well, not necessarily. Process improvement is a vital function of any successful business. There are tons of popular methods companies have been using to improve processes for generations. Surveys, monthly training, and think tanks are common organic methods that don’t require software.
However, as your business grows, organic process improvement becomes more difficult. It’s hard to see where time, personnel, and funds are being wasted from within your own business without all of the relevant data that is integral to the entire business —that’s why hiring experts to implement new solutions can help your company.
On top of that, every business must strive to keep up with the competition. If you want your business to continue growing and stay ahead of the curve, you have to take advantage of the latest technology solutions. Otherwise, you will fall behind!
Where Process Improvement Software Can Help
So, how do you know when you need process improvement software?
Every business is different. But if you notice processes in your business that are lagging, becoming disorganized, or occupying too much company time, you might need a custom software solution.
Here are some common areas where process improvement software will make a difference:
- Financial management: Customized software can help your business manage a complex budget across multiple departments.
- Data management: Automating data entries, storing data across departments, and accessing company-wide data are all tasks that the right software will streamline, integrate into your organization and leverage the data that it will generate.
- Acquiring feedback: Need to get feedback from staff, clients, or customers? Automate the whole process to save time.
- Communication and coordination: Coordinating across departments is simpler with an established, custom-designed system for your business.
- Time management: Implementing software will help you track employees’ time, create and share schedules, and cut down on wasted time.
This list is brief, but it should give you an example of the ways custom software will improve your business’s function. To put it simply, if any area of your business is wasting time or money, you need process improvement software.
How Does Process Improvement Software Work?
Because process improvement is ongoing, the software implemented by Intersoft Associates is designed to adapt and change with your business.
In other words, process improvement software doesn’t have one function—it works in multiple departments to streamline productivity and reduce costs. The best software is continuously reviewed and adapted by process improvement professionals.
Here’s an example of what that looks like in practice:
Client Example: Pearson Education
Pearson Education, the world’s largest education company, produces a wide array of textbooks and digital services. They hired Intersoft Associates to create a system that would keep track of rights acquisition and utilization for all their products.
After consulting with the company’s senior leadership, Intersoft Associates designed a custom software solution that operated in multiple modules within multiple operating units. One module automated functions in rights marketing, another automated the permission granting process, and so on. The result was a streamlined workflow across departments.
With the new software, Pearson Education improved its rights acquisition process and boosted productivity by automating tasks that used to be manual. This change saved millions of dollars annually in ways that were not previously considered money, alleviated stress and saved personnel hours – allowing people to perform more high-valued tasks.
Today, Intersoft Associates continues to manage and improve the software to keep up with the business’s changing needs.
The Process of Process Improvement
Believe it or not, process improvement is its own process. The Intersoft Associates professionals follow the IsAware process – a careful step-by-step methodology that helps clients reduce costs and streamline their business functions.
Sounds complicated, right? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s a quick overview of how Intersoft Associates implements process improvement solutions.
1. Consultation and Discovery
Process improvement software is not “one-size-fits-all.” Every solution must be custom-tailored to fit a business’s needs.
That’s why the first step in process improvement is an in-depth analysis of the business. The experts at Intersoft Associates will consult with leadership and stakeholders, get to know each process, and learn what makes an organization tick.
Once the professionals identify problems, they can design solutions to fix them.
The next step is to design a custom software solution. Working with business leaders and management, process improvement professionals identify functional requirements and draw up a plan for the new system.
So, what goes into the creation of new software? A lot—this is the part where process improvement software is customized to your company’s specific needs.
At Intersoft Associates, the design process includes:
- Creating a project plan: Experts analyze the resources, tasks required, and completion dates of each process.
- Coding: Software code is always managed by a source-code control system. That way, the system’s progress can be monitored for changes and improvements.
- Review: As modules progress through the development process, the software is demonstrated to management and key stakeholders for review and comment. Regular meetings are also scheduled with a steering committee to review the plan and any recommended changes to the software that can provide additional benefits at little or no additional cost.
- Testing: Starting with a carefully-drawn testing plan, the software is tested in multiple stages to identify and fix problems.
The goal of software design is to provide an optimal solution for the organization based on the business and its goals. It is aso important to create an effective system that can be adapted and improved as your business evolves.
Once your custom software is up and running, you should see a more efficient workflow and better productivity. Your process improvement design professionals will help your business adjust to the new system.
The software is only effective if it is actually improving the process it needs to improve. It should be carefully monitored for issues, even after the testing phase is over.
4. Follow-Up and Refinement
Remember, process improvement never stops. As your business continues to grow and change, your process improvement software should develop with it.
Intersoft Associates continues to review every software solution they install. Process improvement software is designed for easy monitoring and refinement. Whenever problems occur, Intersoft Associates will update the system to maximize efficiency.
Making the Most of Your Process Improvement Software
A custom software solution from Intersoft Associates will make a massive difference in your productivity—but it can’t run the business independently.
To make the most of your new system, it has to be wholly integrated into your business. Make sure your employees are fully trained to utilize the software. Then, help them to allocate their time around it. Your streamlined process will open up time and funds for other tasks, so you should be prepared to create and implement new processes.
Fortunately, Intersoft Associates can help with that. They offer consultancy services to help your business make the most of your process improvement software and maximize productivity.
The Bottom Line: You Need Process Improvement Software
Every business participates in process improvement. It’s the only way to reduce costs, prevent wasted time, and grow.
There are plenty of organic ways to improve processes within your business. But if you want to keep up with the competition, you need process improvement software. Custom software solutions from Intersoft Associates will help your business save time and money so you can focus on your growth.
Technology has revolutionized the business world. So why not take advantage of it? Implement the best process improvement software to make your business faster, more efficient, and more profitable.
Business Process Breakdowns: Symptoms You Need Improving
Business processes are the coordinated systems and practices that help your business operate effectively, and help your employees and business partners understand how their roles are related to the roles of others. What happens when those processes aren’t working properly? How would you even know? Read on to explore symptoms of business process breakdowns and why a culture of problem-solving is crucial to running an efficient, profitable organization.
The Broken Business Process
How do you know if your business processes are broken? The nature of this problem is that those suffering most from the broken processes have often found inefficient workarounds or repairs that mask issues just so they can get their task completed. In order to recognize them before it’s too late It is helpful to look at some common symptoms of broken business processes.
You have a bunch of systems but aren’t getting valid data, or getting data is taking too long
If you are looking for important and strategically necessary information and it’s taking a long time to retrieve it, or if you have to have several people, departments, or systems communicating to get information, you more than likely have a serious problem. Sometimes different departments will have duplicate (or almost duplicate) versions of similar data and there’s no single “source of the truth.” This will show itself in inconsistent information – for example, why is sales data or backorders different in different databases? Which A/R balance is correct? The right data management will mean everybody has easy access to the same data.
Departments (Or People) Are Silo’d
Back to the idea of there being no single source of truth, sometimes departments are not aware of what other departments are doing. You don’t know if or how the data one department is accessing or using compares to another department’s data, and…you don’t really care – clearly you should! People are just trying to get their work done sometimes without regard to the rest of the organization and its needs, and they’re doing it with what they have available to them. In this case your symptom might not be something the data itself is showing so much as the culture that the employees of the company are demonstrating: If you have many departments operating autonomously of each other, you can bet that there are broken processes slowing people down and they might not even know it. More importantly, it can be costing you millions of dollars in sales or unnecessary expenses.
You Have Some Old (And Maybe Bad) Habits
If you are using old technology or legacy software applications to accomplish tasks or manage information, you might be operating with a great deal of inefficiency without even knowing it. Imagine a scenario in real estate, for example, where an organization has a tried-and-true system of emailing clients or customers with a link to a PDF that then needs to be filled out and returned. On the client’s side, the form needs to be downloaded. Some people might print it out, fill it out by hand, rescan the document and then send it back. Others might fill out the form digitally, save the document, then return it. In both cases there is a rich opportunity for human error, the process is slow and cumbersome and transactions (and revenue and profits) can be slowed down. And – once upon a time – this was how many companies conducted business. A more modern alternative is using something like Docusign, where with a few clicks or taps the client can almost immediately do what is necessary to finish a task and the process can move along. Staying handcuffed to old, outdated technology and processes can slow your company down and create a less desirable customer experience.
You Are Confusing the Means for The End
Is your CRM powerful enough? Is there an API available to share this data with that platform? Can you access this kind of report from that kind of software? If these are the kinds of questions you are starting with, you might already be setting yourself up for frustration. The how – the technology questions – are relevant and important, but they have to come after the why questions. Why are your people frustrated and why are critical processes going slowly? Why is so much time being spent on this task? What would be ideal in this situation? In short, what are the pains being experienced? A capable custom software consultant will listen and help develop a strategy for improved business processes that might involve any number of technical and operational approaches – but those are only considered to resolve the why. If you fail to recognize this you could spend a great deal of time (and money) building or refining archaic processes that are never going to solve the core problem, or that can’t by themselves solve the problems.
Your Culture Needs Work
The people that do the work in your organization know where the problems are. Unfortunately, leaders can often be insulated from day-to-day process friction. They often underestimate the impact broken processes and inefficiency can have on the bottom line, top line, and even morale and productivity. If you don’t know how stuff gets done in your company then you are going to have a hard time identifying the problems and solutions. A culture of trust, communication, innovation and efficiency can help everybody in an organization see themselves as crucial parts of healthy business processes.
Better Business Processes Builds Better Business
How things get done in a company is, ultimately, what the customer is buying. Dysfunction and inefficiency almost always has a way of showing itself to the customer experience through mistakes in accounting, slow shipping, inaccurate product fulfillment, long wait, delivery, or service times, and on and on. Better business processes that are fine-tuned to creating sustainable success helps every aspect of how you do business.
Remember, you don’t need to know what your problem is to know you have a problem. If some of these symptoms are familiar, it’s time to give us a call. Together we’ll help you identify problem areas, envision ideal outcomes, and build the processes to achieve success.
Business Process Improvement: Creating Opportunities You Don’t Foresee
When your business processes have grown inefficient or ineffective, they often present obvious pain points. Redundancies, duplicate efforts, tasks taking too long to complete, multiple data points – these are all symptoms of business processes that need attention. What comes next, however, is perhaps more interesting – when broken processes are repaired, or old processes are innovated against, new opportunities emerge that maybe could have never existed before. Read on for real-world examples and illustrations of how custom software development can help improve business processes, ultimately creating benefits, opportunities and competitive advantages.
What is Business Process Improvement?
We’ve discussed before how process improvement is the proactive task of reviewing business processes, identifying problems, and making improvements with the goal of helping every process run smoother and more efficiently.
Custom Software can help in business process improvement by eliminating friction in how data is shared and used, by creating more efficiencies around existing business processes and by helping to create entirely new and improved business processes where software, systems and applications are concerned. An exciting product of improved business processes is the potential for entirely new approaches that can be realized when outdated processes are innovated against.
Examples of Business Process Improvement
At InterSoft Associates we have a long history of helping companies do more than they might have thought possible to improve processes and create new opportunities.
Better Dispute Resolution
When Pearson was trying to improve payment processes within New York City Public Schools, we helped them modernize an outdated process on how payment was to be received when sending books to schools. Where previously a time consuming and error-prone manual process was involved requiring a proof-of-delivery prior to payment, our Custom Software solution integrated with shippers, such as FedEx, UPS and DHL, and internal accounting platforms to instantly and automatically identify when a delivery of books was received and generate an invoice for payment together with proof-of-delivery.
An ancillary benefit to this process was, with proofs of delivery, there was now an interface to the entire collection process. If someone called with a problem about delivery or a question about an invoice, an email could quickly show proof in the process. This helped Pearson resolve any disputes quickly and accurately, where previously, in addition to an inefficient system, disputes were difficult to resolve because it required several layers of slow, confusing investigation. Moreover, the delivery details only remained on the shipper’s site for a limited time.
A company like Pearson that grows through acquisition will often have multiple databases of different ages, built by different people or business units and intended to fulfill distinct, but similar, objectives. Over time, systems to manage these databases like FileMaker, Access or FoxPro can stop serving the organization’s overall objectives.
As part of our discovery process to understand how to increase efficiency for sharing data, we listened to many different stakeholders to understand where the pain points and requirements for success existed. While every business unit has unique and distinct needs, we were able to help them realize that 80% of their needs had something in common. This meant we could develop a solution that would solve most of their consistent, in-common issues and then focus on customizing for their specific, differentiated functionality. Ultimately this let us develop custom systems that helped the entire organization better manage processes and create a uniform company-wide standard..
With this realization came new ideas on the 20% that seemed unique and differentiated, and we proposed ways to unify processes so that even that 20% could become more consistent throughout the organization. This required a lot of listening and collaboration among stakeholders so they could hear and learn from what others were doing and why, helping them see new possibilities in their “special” processes.
By the time we were finished, 95% of the organization was running on a standard, unified process. Just by talking together, we were able to achieve a more unified approach. This kind of consistency means increased efficiency, fewer unknowns and opportunities for error, and less siloing of data and details.
We like to say the results of this kind of analysis is “1+1 = 3” – the outcomes are greater than the parts because of the unexpected benefits or opportunities created.
In another project, we helped an organization develop a better cash forecasting process, taking a lot of data from various systems and presenting a unified view of the data. There were multiple divisions in the company, each with its own data management, creating a lot of disparity and confusion when it came time to analyze how this data impacted cash flow.
When we started working with one division and demonstrating what could be done, other divisions took notice and wanted something similar. Others recognized how their manual processes were creating problems. Because they started collaborating with people and processes outside their own departments, we were able to help them achieve a broader organizational vision.
Ultimately we were able to create a faster, easier cash forecasting system company-wide. Once that system was in place, new opportunities emerged. Their collection agents had new insights on where to focus, such as how larger clients compared to smaller clients. They could then measure their attempts for follow-ups and collections, which helped with time management. All of this, in turn, impacts profitability.
Putting Process Improvement In Motion
The benefits of improving business processes are often more exponential than linear. When the most obvious issues are addressed, the outcomes and processes to achieve them help companies see their processes, and the data that drive them, in new and interesting ways. Solving the problem reveals potential and opportunity that might not have existed before. It’s this collaborative, inclusive approach that helps us help leaders to better understand their processes, how their people are being impacted, and what’s possible with a new point of view.
When your business processes have grown inefficient or ineffective, they often present obvious pain points....
Technology is continually changing, and the way we run our businesses is changing with it. Today, there are countless...