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The digitalisation of processes is far from being an outdated subject

In organisations, everything is a process. Although the subject of process optimisation is not new, there are still many processes that are not computerised and efficiently managed. Their proper execution relies on the goodwill of each individual to enter information correctly or to respect deadlines and procedures.

As the subject has been discussed for years, digitising processes may indeed seem simplistic and hardly innovative! However, you only have to look at what is happening in the field, in the organisations, to realise that it remains an essential issue.

Talking about AI, Process Mining or RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is more in line with the trend, and we are also speaking out on these subjects. However, we need to be practical, to look at the real challenges faced by organisations and simply respond to them in the most pragmatic way possible.

At Blueway, we are convinced that, in many cases, digitising business processes in a simple and operational way can still provide an enormous service to companies. And that's without trying to systematically include Machine Learning or AI components.

It may sound like a caricature, but in practice, this type of process is still very common in SMEs and major accounts alike:

"A major customer requests a quotation from Michel, who is a sales representative. Michel then initialises a quotation Excel file, which he sends by e-mail to Catherine in Sales Administration. It was she who was to carry out the quotation.

Catherine received the file, but a column was missing! She sent a new version of the file to Michel with his request. Michel calls Catherine directly to make sure he understands, makes the change and sends the file back. Catherine was finally able to perform the encryption.

 

But the costing exceeded a certain threshold, so Catherine sent it to Michel and also to Isabelle, the Sales Director! While Michel immediately approved the costing, Isabelle was unaware of the urgency and didn't react straight away.A few days later, she asked for further explanations.Catherine e-mailed her details and amended the file, but Isabelle was still stuck. In fact, they realised a little later that the cause was a cell in the file that had become corrupted and was not providing the information in the expected format.

The mystery is solved and Catherine corrects the file, which is finally validated by Michel and Isabelle.The document was then sent to John so that he could integrate the quotation into the ERP system.Michel was then finally able to distribute the quotation to the end customer... but unfortunately not within the planned timeframe, when the quotation would otherwise have had every chance of being accepted!

Whether informal or not, there are many processes in companies that are not digitalised, and new ones are appearing every day.

Directly, they lead to losses in productivity and responsiveness: people lose time, many actions are not automated when they could be... They also lead to a lack of agility when someone is absent, a step should be added or a condition changes. Not to mention the security risks. Without standardisation, data can be erroneous, information distributed to the wrong people, validation steps not respected...

The operational and strategic benefits of digitising processes

Digitalisation will obviously simplify collaboration and automate tedious tasks. Neutralising requests and enabling stakeholders to understand each other better simplifies relations and limits conflicts. This not only makes things easier for everyone involved, but also boosts productivity.

Digitising business processes will also prevent them being taken over by any one person or department. As soon as a new member of staff arrives, they can fit into the mould without any questions being asked. There is no loss of information. By setting up a process portal, employees know where to go, how to initiate a particular request, etc.

In terms of change management, this brings real transparency. Changing a process no longer means having to explain to everyone what they are going to have to change in their day-to-day lives. The digital process always reflects the latest version, validated and shared with employees. Some of the operational changes are hidden and automated.

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Greater business agility and scalability

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Lever for operational excellence (efficiency, automation, etc.)

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Better control of costs and resources

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Quality, compliance with procedures, control of deadlines

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Transparency and support for change

How can you successfully digitise your processes?

Digitising a simple process should be intuitive. And in the case of complex processes, it’s often a lot less complicated than you might think! It’s even an opportunity to audit your processes and optimise them. In 95% of cases, there’s no need to set up a gas factory.

The BPM or Business Process Management approach is based on modelling and computerising processes. In short, it involves formalising and defining the sequence of tasks, or workflow, in collaboration with managers, then computerising the process using forms and GUIs, and finally setting up data exchanges between application systems. This solution is suitable for most companies.

1st recommendation

Understanding the complexity of workflows

A process is a sequence of activities that uses incoming flows to produce a given result. They can be found in every sector and every department. Delivery, creation of a new product, handling a customer complaint… Any sequence of actions is a process!

The source of the complexity of processes is their cross-functional nature. In most cases, several people from different departments have to work together. Organisations set up within a single department become obsolete as soon as there is a need to cross-reference information and actions from different departments.

Hence the essential need for standardisation and coordination throughout the company!

2nd recommendation

Automate while maintaining scalability

Behind the automation of processes, it is essential not to implement a fixed version. The life of a company is one of constant change, and business processes are also constantly evolving. Of course, it’s not enough to simply draw up a process and let it live its own life. If the first step is to carry out a diagnosis and mapping of the processes, we need to look at the BPM life cycle: analysis, design, execution, monitoring, optimisation… Monitoring the process means being able to optimise it!

The very purpose of the BPM approach is to continually improve the performance and quality of processes. Simplicity is therefore linked not only to implementation, but also to process lifecycle management!

3rd recommendation

Anticipating the need for processes to adhere to the Information System

A key point to bear in mind before embarking on a process computerisation initiative is the need to ensure that your processes adhere to the Information System! A real process is a hybrid one, if it is to meet both business and functional challenges.

The human element needs to be integrated through appropriate, user-friendly HMIs, and technical tasks need to be automated to improve productivity and inter-application communication. A process that is not digitalised from start to finish is of little value. Without adherence to the IS and the tools and solutions that make it up, the process becomes a new application silo. And this is to be avoided at all costs!

The process must therefore be adherent, i.e. be able to interconnect to feed forms, enrich the service, integrate information into other applications, etc.

At Blueway, we are convinced that providing simplicity for modelling the process and creating forms must not be at the expense of adherence. If you have to do specific development to integrate with an application, don’t bother!

The distinction between ESB and ETL has become irrelevant in the context of modern business requirements.

Choose Process Governance from Blueway to digitalise your processes!

At Blueway, we are convinced that digitalisation must not be disconnected from the human dimension. In addition to improving quality and productivity, the computerisation of processes must bring human benefits. The customer experience, by delivering quality services, and employee comfort, by making their day-to-day lives easier, are targets to keep in mind, but they are not the only ones. Digitising processes should also help to put people back at the heart of the Information System, by freeing responses to business challenges from technical constraints.

Process Governance is the Business Process Management module in our Phoenix Data Platform. It combines a workflow design workshop based on the BPMN 2 standard, process management and supervision tools and task automation functions.

Schéma BPM : Quelle solution choisir pour optimiser ses processus ?

Our strengths in implementing your strategy to digitise your processes

Intuitive modelling

Create and make your business processes executable via a visual and intuitive interface.

Task automation

Streamline and automate repetitive tasks, combining human and technical activities to reduce human error and increase efficiency

Interoperability with the IS

Ensuring that processes adhere to the existing Information System, in order to facilitate the integration and consistency of business activities.

Process supervision console

Get the tools you need to control, monitor and provide real-time information on the status of your processes.

Innovative, customisable user interfaces

Use a WYSIWYG approach to create screens, forms and portals based on your company's graphic standards.

… and beyond with the Phoenix platform

The coupling of the process and data processing (Data Foundation) dimensions of the Phoenix platform means that sequences requiring little human interaction can be automated, while ensuring consistency with all the IS’s business applications. Our BPM software is therefore capable of consuming and organising data exchanges between processes and the IS.

Native integration between Process Governance and Data Governance (Master Data Management) as well as MyDataCatalogue guarantees that your processes will exploit reliable, up-to-date data.

Data Platform Phoenix : DQM, MDM, BPM, ESB, Data Catalog
Would you like to discuss the challenges of digitising your processes?

Our latest content on the digitalisation of processes

Our FAQs on digitising processes

The two approaches, ESB and APIM, are complementary: the ESB positions itself as the orchestrator of your Information System's services, while the APIM focuses on the governance of exchanges with the outside world (managing access to and use of APIs, controlling usage, standardising APIs to ensure their scalability, etc.).

The management of HR processes is a response both to employee experience issues and to sometimes strict rules. It is therefore an area where process optimisation brings major benefits: greater autonomy, interactivity and speed of processing for employees, and for HR departments a 360° view of requests, easier integration with HRIS applications and automation of actions that are often repetitive.

The onboarding and offboarding processes are a good illustration of a key process where digitalisation adds value!

Accounting processes are also among the most digitalised, because they are critical. These processes are the foundation on which the reliability of financial information, regulatory compliance and decision-making rest: transparency of financial operations, efficient management of cash flows, compliance with accounting and tax standards, reduction in the risk of error, etc. BPM will help to meet the challenges of data integrity and compliance with procedures and deadlines. Purchasing portals, with their sourcing procedures and management of calls for tender, are a good example of a practical application.

The digitisation of administrative processes is another very good example where BPM brings a strong return on investment. Administrative processes play a central, cross-functional role within organisations, structuring many essential activities. Optimising these processes frees up the potential of administrative departments by eliminating time-consuming tasks and automating low added-value processes: data consolidation, automation of data entry and transmission tasks, etc. All administrative processes can be concerned, such as order book management, audit tracking, meeting room reservations or the processing of certain files. Over and above the gains in performance and data quality, it's also a way of boosting the satisfaction of administrative staff!

To ensure optimal operation, disconnected mode with an application running entirely on a portable device enables embedded data to be processed without systematically calling on external resources. Then, when the user is able to connect, data is synchronised automatically or manually.

Between a tablet and a smartphone, the sequence of tasks, screens and the amount of information displayed on the same page must be adapted to offer maximum user comfort. Certain functionalities that are complementary to those usually integrated into an after-sales service, CRM or route management tool need to be integrated to meet users' needs: mapping, the ability to take photos, barcode entry, etc.).

Obviously, everything would be simple if all users were regularly present within the company, if the devices used were the same and if everyone was disciplined in managing exchanges between their terminal and the central systems in the best possible way. However, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), changes in media and the management of authorisations and permissions are transforming the most virtuous systems into magnificent messes.... To avoid major disillusionment, you should at least have tools for managing these terminals (who owns what), distributing applications, data and authorisations (who uses what and under what conditions) and tools for monitoring exchanges (who has not replicated for more than "n" days, what data is exchanged, its volume and traceability).

Finally, securing your exchanges and data is unfortunately not enough to give you peace of mind. You need to ensure that data sent to the wrong device cannot be read by another recipient, and that a lost or stolen terminal cannot be easily used by its new user....

These mechanisms must be simple to use and complex to circumvent, to ensure that systems are secure while causing as little disruption as possible to the user, whose job is to have a tool with which to work.Digitising processes with a Business Process Management approach is one of the solutions to these challenges, to complement the applications already in place!