How do you typically get your Coca-Cola? Do you grab a can from the vending machine at work? Pop into the gas station to pull a cold one from their refrigerators? Buy a 12-pack from the grocery? Or just pour some over ice from a fast-food restaurant’s vending machine?
You’ve probably done all of those at some point. Coca-Cola operates in 200 countries around the world and a whopping 1.9 billion people consume some of their product each day. The company reports more than 700,000 system employees—from warehouse workers, manufacturers, and bottlers, to distributors and vendors.
So a powerhouse company like this has seemingly endless data points to collect. How do they do it? While not the end of the story, its beginning is driven by business process reengineering (BPR).
BPR allows companies like Coke to re-imagine their organization-wide workflows, optimizing their end processes and identifying how and where to provide an automation platform for their execution. This “start from scratch” method completely reconsiders and (in many cases) effectively redesigns your entire process chain and the way you do business both internally and externally—at least when done properly. The result can mean dramatic improvements to your service, product quality, costs, time management, and overall efficiency.
The most agile companies these days know how to consolidate diverse data sources so they can quickly identify those important trends and accordingly build reports and execute workflow processes more efficiently.
The bottom line is that if you’re not visualizing your company’s most relevant data, then you’re missing opportunities to grow your revenue as well as opportunities to cut down on redundancies and inefficiencies that can cost you big.
Even if you’re not a multi-billion-dollar beverage company, you can visualize your most important data and reengineer your business processes to keep your own revenue growing year after year—whether your company’s net worth is $2 million or $100 billion.
Benefits of Business Process Reengineering
Identifies Business Gaps
What are your weaknesses, and how do you need to improve? What influences your customers’ behavior? Where should you offer your services or place your products to achieve your greatest level of success? Where do you envision your sales data? How do you track your analytics? Who has access to what information?
We’ve become a visual society, so presenting clear metrics and analytics—whether you’re showing to stakeholders, the CFO, your company’s board, or your employees—is key to helping your audience understand high-level information.
By presenting a visual workflow chart during the reengineering process, employees and decision makers have a tangible way to easily identify patterns and snags in the supply chain … or chain of command.
You can efficiently scale your metric-driven data visualization via line or bar charts, pie charts and scatter plots, or simple infographics that depict the chain of command. Keep it simple with clean graphics clearly depicting your company’s analytics. Digestible pieces—think bright colors, easy-to-read charts—are key to being able to properly understand where you can improve upon pain points you didn’t even know existed. With the right business process reengineering plan in place, your business will be able to see the forest for the trees more clearly, and as such, be able to make actionable changes more instantaneously.
Takeaway for your business:
Simplify your operational structure and workflow process into chunks of visualized data in order to pinpoint inefficiencies that BPR can help repair.
Increases Bottom-Line Efficiency
The beauty of building a software platform using business process reengineering as a discipline, is that it frees up your operations to become more client-focused.
Let’s go back to Coke. Why has the beverage giant kept a sharp edge? One reason: smart marketing campaigns and BPR-based assessment and understanding now drives their business. As an example, in 2011, Coca-Cola rolled out a global SAP BusinessObjects Supply Chain Management application to its bottlers around the world.
The platform is focused on improving efficiencies—through the use of secure business processes, order processing, building and distribution—from plants and bottlers, to warehouses and customers across all the company’s products with minimal manual intervention.
Automating most of the company’s processes allows Coca-Cola to place more efforts on delivering unparalleled service, creating innovative marketing campaigns (think the Share a Coke campaign), which, in the end, allow the consumer to simply press a button and get their favorite Coke product.
Takeaway for your business:
Use automation of processes like accounting, inventory management, and invoicing in order to deploy your workforce to the most profitable areas of your business.
Don’t miss the chance to cut down on redundancies and chop organization inefficiencies. Business process re-engineering can transform your business and streamline your operations to set you apart from your competition.
A good business decision maker is always looking for ways to streamline his or her business—ways to automate processes, cut inefficiencies and increase the bottom line. We’ve previously discussed what business automation and business process transformation encompass.
Now let’s take a look at how certain industries have used this digital transformation to revolutionize the way they do business. Without leveraging the business process transformation methodology, these industries would most certainly lose their market edge.
4 Industries Ripe for BPR
Hotel & Travel
In a world of kayak.com and Trip Advisor, the agile methodologies involved in creating unique automation platforms are crucial to hotel chains trying to stand apart from the competition.
That’s why hotel chains like Marriott International employ sophisticated electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems that allow them to offer guests better service and competitive pricing. By integrating this digital methodology and building custom suites that fit a business’ goals, companies may increase both top- and bottom-line growth. And the use of digital automation platforms in the hospitality industry provides a more personalized experience for travelers—more rapid booking, and greater engagement with customers post-stay.
KQ iHotels, for instance, uses a system that follows flight disruptions for Kenya Airways. Originally a clunky manual process, Icreon built their platform from scratch, helping to pinpoint business technology weaknesses. The reimagined KQ iHotels system now follows flight disruptions, integrates with both a Global Distribution Systems and the Kenya Airways’ Passenger Manifesto.
These features flag system abusers and determine whether a user qualifies for accommodation services, transportation, lounge usage, and meal vouchers. It automatically prints out vouchers and passes for travelers while custom reports and dashboards eliminate the need for manual input … and invoice generation and service provider delivery happens in real time. For KQ iHotels, business process transformation improves both the customer experience and cash flow, which both bump up the bottom line.
Forget snail mail. Now when you order a package from amazon.com, the company guarantees delivery in three days via UPS. Whether by air, rail, road, or water—you want to know where your stuff is and what time it will arrive at your door.
Big data can provide delivery times, geographical locations, and integration of logistics into product and distribution processes, while leveraging all the data to provide shippers what they need to know about where to go and when.
United Parcel Service (UPS) reports their digital transformation process was just that … a process … that took years to create to make sure they were hitting the right mark.
The telltale brown (UPS) trucks get outfitted with sensors, which measure speed, track location, and collect fuel efficiency data. The UPS My Choice service allows customers mobile and online access to choose delivery preferences, reroute shipments, and adjust delivery times. And electronic signatures seamlessly authorize the release of packages. UPS CEO David Abney said he expects that the tracking system the company employs will save the company $300 million to $400 million a year, once it is fully implemented in 2017.
As with consumers, there are plenty of logistics involved in the distributing of goods and services to retailers and vendors. Food supplier Sysco is currently working to modernize its old technology system to make its business more agile and effective. The ultimate goal, says chief executive Bill DeLaney, in the overhaul is “we’ll be able to allocate that spending in a more efficient way and frankly in a more customer-centric way.”
Wholesalers are employing multiple digital options where their omnichannel strategy is concerned. They’re creating the ultimate B2B shopping experiences by offering customers a variety of options and places to purchase the goods they sell. By adopting ERP software with integrated analytics, they can further streamline their sales orders, production, inventory, finances, automated ordering, and production.
This gives employees more time to focus on personal relationships and customer fulfillment, a robust public digital presence, and marketing campaigns.
When pharmaceutical testing equipment manufacturer Distek, Inc., receives a shipment, everyone with access to their computer system can see the shipment, and purchasers know when a part arrives in real time.
“When we input new orders, we also see allocation to the parts necessary to build those orders right away; whereas before, we might have to wait as long as two weeks. And the reports that used to take me days now get done in 30 minutes,” says Pierre Parks, business systems and production manager, in a press release.
Today’s automation, coupled with cloud-based applications, and the Internet of Things (IOT) certainly drives the manufacturing industry in a way it didn’t a decade ago.
The current technology enables manufacturers to produce a product with more speed, precision, and flexibility.
As big data is collected and measured in real time, predictive maintenance technology can more quickly catch defects, allowing for greater quality control and cutting down on potential recalls or downtime. Other benefits of business process transformation in this industry include lower inventory costs, fewer accounting errors, improved handling of large volumes of both data and product, better understanding of key performance indicators, real-time changes to production schedules and delivery, and an instant demonstration of regulatory compliance.
Where Technology fits into BPR
Are your departments stuck in silos? Do your workers waste time looking for the information they need to do their job? And does that specific job depend on timely completion of tasks by a multitude of moving parts?
If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘yes’, then your business may benefit greatly from Business Process Automation (BPA). BPA solutions involve implementing software applications that automate routine business tasks. For instance, a customer order system communicating with the warehouse system in order to automatically place orders for in-demand inventory.
Ideally this process leads to reduced cost expenditures and increased productivity. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are a core part of any strategy that aims for process automation. ERPs can best be summed up as a suite of integrated applications that allow for cross-departmental interaction. These sets of applications are used by companies to store, manage, and interpret data from various departmental activities.
Automating processes with ERP systems allow for a more seamless operational environment for separate departments that need to collaborate. So let’s take a look at the core features that enable a company to become a highly efficient and automated business.
Automation and Integration
ERP systems integrate pertinent data and software systems for businesses so that employees, regardless of department, can access the information they need to do their jobs. It involves the formation of a central database that works as a repository for information originating in different parts of the business. Subsequent software interfaces are then created so that each department’s data can be accessed by another.
Different application modules support a particular business activity like the finance, HR, or warehouse and logistics department. Data originates at the module level, gets validated for consistency, and then gets stored in the database for wider access across departments. Once the data is stored, different users can access, combine, and manipulate data as needed.
Rainer Struppek, the head of Group Accounting at engineering firm GEA Group, said that their ERP setup provided “a data repository to create financial reports with standardized, transparent processes.” He also detailed how well “the solution integrated into the existing software landscape.” Ideally, an ERP system will integrate software systems and data across various departments while maintaining the value of existing software investments.
Increased Communication & BI
ERP systems implementation serve as a useful technique to break through the isolating barriers within an organization. They ensure that integrated applications are used in the same way by all departments to exchange data automatically. This automation increases reliability of business data and while simultaneously breaking down silos.
For instance, signing a contract by a sales department to sell an ‘x’ amount of units will automatically inform the manufacturing department system to check inventory. If inventory levels contain sufficient items, the job will automatically be scheduled from order to delivery. Workers from the associated departments will now connect and team up to mark successful order deliveries.
Automating information sharing will lead to faster, cost-effective, and timely delivery to the customer. ERP systems serve to increase business awareness within the organization. This is achieved by using integrated applications and understanding inter-dependencies between processes.
Through automation and ERP systems, management can establish real-time visibility and control of the business process. It helps to determine how the process is operating, where the bottlenecks might be, and highlight possible improvements.
Toine van Rooij, the Operations Director at Bruynzeel Keukens, said that their ERP setup was used specifically “to identify and resolve bottlenecks in our processes”. He also detailed how they can “continue to minimize the costs of failure and to dissect all processes in order to coordinate them even better.”
ERP systems help to minimize cost expenditures due to manual errors and inefficiency. To err is human. Employees may forget payment due dates, approval deadlines or make a payment for services or goods never received. But not with a well-oiled ERP setup. These might result in direct financial loss. ERP systems effectively minimize these errors by integrating systems so that every moving part is on the same page.
Moving Forward with Business Process Automation
In today’s competitive environment where every business is aiming to cut costs and increase productivity, ERP systems are able to meet countless strategic objectives. Automated business processes provide consistency in execution and safeguard compliance at the organizational level. ERP provides an easy way to automate processes, co-ordinate tasks and move data between process players. It also provides the flexibility and agility to support an ever changing environment.