Automated Workflows: equipping for the immediate, planning for the future
Suppressing the COVID-19 pandemic has come at a cost to Australia’s economic activity1. As industries spin back up, addressing immediate economic concerns by cutting costs and elevating productivity could have unintended and negative consequences: how can businesses deal with urgent post-pandemic issues without sacrificing quality of operations or data security?
The majority of Australian businesses currently share the same urgent concerns: slow trading and cashflow2 and the health and wellbeing of employees. But there are also long-term issues from before the pandemic that remain pressing, such as the growing complexity of effective data management and data security. This mix of immediate and long-term considerations present a challenge with a seemingly obvious solution: to tighten belts for now.
This approach is dangerous for two reasons. The first is that it will increase the pressure on already over-worked staff – particularly effecting back-office employees who run critical paper-based operations such as accounts payable or managing contracts from contract signing, changes to storage.
The second is that ignoring long-term considerations in favour of squeezing resources will lead to poorer operations and more errors – increasing the risk of data security breaches which, if severe, could cause both financial and reputational damage to the business. Furthermore, those businesses who take this approach may also hamper their ability to tackle long-term issues and, as the economy recovers, they will fall behind the competition.
Having to sacrifice the quality of operations and data security to address urgent cashflow issues is a widespread conundrum. However, in the past, individual businesses have overcome a similar mix of stresses and strains and we can learn from their approaches.
A Business Story
Just before the pandemic, a leading Australian home-building organisation was dealing with a steep increase in demand from growing population and overseas immigration. They were also facing bottlenecks due to out-dated processes.
The finance department of three full-time and two part-time employees had to manually process 3,000 invoices per week: furthermore, every invoice had to be physically delivered. This resulted in frequent delays to supplier payments and incredibly stressful working conditions for staff.
They decided to implement a type of workflow automation software called Business Process Automation. This enabled them to classify invoices digitally – extracting key information and validating it against established business rules – and route invoices through automated workflows.
With more invoices being processed and routed to approvers faster – and with fewer errors – the business saved costs and met the rise in demand with ease. Moreover, the accounts team had more time to focus on delivering a high-quality customer and supplier experience.
The Steps to Workflow Automation
Implementing workflow automation may seem like a momentous task, but with the right expertise businesses can quickly and easily implement workflow automation software and reap the rewards. It be considered for any document intensive routine business process not only accounts payable.
Before considering software choices, businesses should plan their roadmap to workflow automation by starting here with Fuji Xerox Australia’s Five Steps:
- Map current processes and look for areas of improvement
- Define the flow of information at each point – for example, is it manually entered?
- Identify personnel roles and ensure the process is aligned to regulations
- Notify users to urgent tasks by setting up an alert system
- Evaluate and improve processes using analytics
With workflow automation, businesses can effectively overcome the immediate concerns of post-COVID-19 operation – saving costs and boosting productivity – while simultaneously preparing for the future by securing processes and elevating customer experience.
Covid-19 is an unexpected disruption to the lives of people who make up all business in Australia. That’s why, at Fuji Xerox Australia, we’re focussed on delivering innovative solutions that help those people keep business moving – just as we have for the past 60 years.
If you’re interested in learning more about addressing existing current challenges while also developing your competitive advantage for the future, take a look at our guide to implementing workflow automation in your business – download the white paper here.