Business process automation: dealing with manual process madness

PaperIn our new white paper on capture evolutions in the age of the Web and the Internet of Things, we mention the huge benefits of digitising information-intensive processes. Business process automation and document imaging, as part of business process optimisation and ongoing digitisation, enable companies to remain competitive and adapt for a ‘digital first’ present and future.

The traditional major culprit in the incapability to unlock the power of documents and capitalise upon information remains that big hurdle, called paper. Extracting information (manually) remains laborious and time consuming. Moreover, in many cases and industries, removing manual processes and thus labour is inevitable where the costs simply make efficiency, essential expectations and business goals impossible to achieve.

It’s all about improving processes to survive and thrive

Paper and the cost of, among others, manual, labour put pressure on meeting profitability goals of a range of processes as explained in the paper. And we even haven’t mentioned digital transformation evolutions yet.

It’s as Erwin Schwarzl said in our interview: although everyone is talking about digital transformation, there are still so many paper-based processes and, as we wrote before, paper stands in the way of digital transformation. Or asAIIM’s John Mancini says: paper is a good place to start with digital transformation. When reengineering business processes, adapting business models to a digital age and meeting customer and employee expectations, paper is indeed a very good place to start with.

However, it’s of course not that much the paper as such. It’s, among others, about how expensive, slow and often manual processes lead to costs, errors and most of all an underutilisation or even disconnected absence of digital information that sits in repositories, archives or the back office while it should be available to improve business processes and service all relevant stakeholders. And then there is the mentioned manual process and labour challenge.

Manual labour and processes erode more than just the bottom line

Business process reengineering, business process optimisation, digital transformation, business process automation and just meeting those profitable business profit goals today all go hand in hand with the removal of manual processes and manual labour. 

As the infographic in our post on the paperless business journey shows, paper and manual labour erode the bottom line. However, with business process automation and digitisation being pillars in the development of digital capabilities, there is more at stake and erosion goes beyond the bottom line. In an article on customer onboarding we emphasized the essential role of the end-to-end customer experience and it’s here that we also see how paper and manual labour negatively impact the bottom line because of a poor customer experience (the need for speed!) and underwhelming customer (and employee) satisfaction

Automing business processes and customer-facing (information) systems, while removing expensive manual tasks that aren’t suited for the digital economy where speed has become a competitive benefit is on the agenda of many organisations and (partially) responsible for many scanning, capture and digitisation projects.

The downside of manual processes and labour

The downside of manual processes and labour

Why and when – legacy – manual processes have to go

However, the matter of the fact is that in many industries, automation hasn’t fully addressed a lot of manual and paper-based systems and processes in the back office yet. The – legacy – manual processes that are still used in several industries (from transport to finance) come with many disadvantages.

Below are just a few examples of how they undermine the quest for efficiency, productivity and simply good business – and why it’s important to have a good mix of manual and digital work where it makes most sense and creates most overall value.

  • Manual processes and labour in general are expensive. In practice this is often the case in handling routine tasks, including transactional processes and information-related functions where technologies, systems and most of all customers and stakeholders are mature enough and where customers/stakeholders really want speed, consistency and often even access to information across digital channels. In these cases the costs of manual labour are too high and automation is a must, certainly when taking the cost of opportunity into account. Reduce or remove manual labour for routine tasks that can be easily and efficiently automated, freeing up human resources for tasks that create more value.
  • Errors can’t be afforded and consistency is key in this information-driven economy. Making manual processes consistent across the business is virtually impossible in many cases. The cost of inconsistency is inefficiency and poor customer experience. Moreover, in several processes, transactions and information-related tasks, the errors that come with manual data entry and information processing tasks simply can’t be afforded as customer, worker, partner and stakeholder expectations are high, delays are not an option and mistakes negatively impact the bottom line and customer satisfaction.
  • Manual labour and processes don’t scale so it’s key to see which processes and business goals require scale. Where digitisation, automation and systems can handle far more transactions accurately than any team could without huge investments, manual processes need to be removed.
  • Manual processes are slow to adapt, taking into account all the training, new procedures and inevitable errors when adapting them. It’s not just about scaling as such but also about the speed at which you can do it and the speed of transformation.

How to get paper-based manual processes and tasks out of the way

The list of reasons and circumstances where manual processes and labour simply don’t cut it anymore and in these ‘digital times’ it’s only getting (and going to get) longer. So, how do you deal with it? Simply buying an award-winning document scanner to get manual document-intensive processes digitised and enhanced isn’t enough.

Document imaging and capture only make sense when the scanning and scanners are deeply integrated with applications, processes, workflows and outcomes. And that’s where a solution such as Kodak Info Input comes in: because it is very close to the process, the source of the documents, the user, the workflows and the applications, even with a possibility to embed it within your applications and with a possibility to have your knowledge workers or agents take it with them via a mobile client, all thanks to the Web.

Simply said, the Kodak Info Input portfolio is so versatile that it enables you to deal with the manual madness that is now eroding your bottom line and makes it impossible to achieve essential business goals.

Learn more about the Kodak Info Input portfolio and check out our white paper for more challenges, tips and data.

» Kodak Info Input Solution overview

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