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HOW TO REDUCE SMB EXPENSES. WORKFLOW AUTOMATION POTENTIAL

August 22, 2018
SERGEY STUKAN
CMO
Manual workflow tasks require lots of time and resources. Even if you use email, instant messaging, Google Drive and other cloud solutions, as well as accounting software, manually adding new data and editing previous entries put increased demand on the business owner's and employees' time. A transition to a single system that combines communication and workflow features saves business resources and reduces expenses.

WORKFLOW AUTOMATION ADVANTAGES FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Workflow automation requires an upfront investment but considering its many advantages it pays for itself in a few months. We have outlined the critical benefits you can reap. With workflow automation, you will:

  • Combine all communication channels in one. As a result, you don't need to support half a dozen emails and messengers and get messages from clients and employees in one place.
  • Prevent loss of information or assignments. All tasks are coordinated through the system and are automatically assigned to individual contributors.
  • Reduce the number of mistakes due to automatic data validation. Human errors might cost your business thousands of dollars, and workflow automation system can prevent most types of mistakes before they occur and affect your bottom line.
  • Automate expense report management and planning. Automated reports expedite analysis and allow enterprise resource manager to correct business course in time to prevent significant troubles and losses.
  • Reduce operational expenses by saving employees' time and increasing efficiency. According to some surveys, an inefficient workflow can leech off up to 30% of your business' revenue.
  • Develop and maintain efficient business operations to increase revenue. Individual factors complement each other and produce a compound positive influence.
Effective workflow automation ensures expense processing and reduction as well as efficient resources' allocation, but it can also produce new revenue streams and opportunities for businesses.

For instance, restaurants can use workflow automation to develop a mobile app for takeout delivery. Another option is an application to allow office workers to pre-order lunch. This will increase the restaurant's turnover capacity and reduce the waiters' workload.

Another example of workflow automation is the use of e-commerce solutions for retailers that can sell their wares through a website or a mobile app. Some businesses can also benefit from automatic product upload to retail marketplaces or auctions.

HOW TO ANALYZE AND IMPROVE BUSINESS WORKFLOW

If you collect orders through a website or a mobile app, analyzing the business workflow takes answering several critical questions:

  1. Are the orders processed automatically or manually, in bulk or one at a time?
  2. How long does it take for orders to get processed?
  3. Do sales managers waste time collecting and validating additional data?
  4. How are the orders and their statuses being tracked?
  5. What software does the sales department use to process orders?
  6. Is the order transferred to be executed on paper or electronically?
  7. How is the order completion controlled?
  8. How do employees differentiate the orders by priority?
  9. How is the additional order data derived in case information is missing?
  10. How much time is wasted on communication between departments?
  11. Is any information about the order lost or corrupted in transfer?
  12. How is the order delivery method chosen?
  13. What papers do the employees draw up to ensure delivery?
  14. What software is used to document the orders' delivery?
  15. How is the package checked to match the customer's order before delivery?
  16. What is the communication protocol in case the wrong product is passed for delivery?
  17. How is the payment for delivered orders tracked?
  18. Is the order's successful completion logged?
  19. Which applications are used for money and cash flow management?
  20. What software is used for financial planning?
This short list introduces only the fundamental questions every business owner should answer to ensure the company's efficiency and success. Owners should also control the expenses, strengths, and weaknesses of every stage of the workflow.

WHAT IS ERP TECHNOLOGY AND HOW DOES IT BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS?

To improve business efficiency, reduce the loss of time and resources, business owners can use ERP (full form - Enterprise Resource Planning) software. ERP definition is simple. It's a business strategy aimed at integrating and automating financial, resource, and workflow management through the use of specialized software suits. The purpose of ERP is to improve business efficiency and reduce expenses. There are two major options to choose from:

Ready-made ERP Software Products

There are enterprise-level options, like SAP Business One or Microsoft Dynamics AX, and apps aimed at small to medium businesses, including Sage 100 ERP, Odoo, and Brightpearl. These systems improve business data quality, enhance report generation and planning, streamline collaboration and supply chain management, to name a few advantages of ERP.

However, off-the-shelf ERP systems are expensive and might come with third-party software requirements that necessitate extra expenses. Ready-made enterprise planning system can also be challenging to incorporate into the existing workflow. As a result, businesses have to transform the established operations around the requirements of the software suite.

Custom ERP Systems

Custom ERP management software can be developed according to specific business needs and workflow requirements. Tailor-made systems ensure businesses can:

  • Reduce ERP software development and maintenance expenses;
  • Upgrade and optimize the ERP system to fit the business growth and the evolving workflow;
  • Explore untapped business promotion channels and offer new products and services;
  • Efficiently control business processes, revenue streams, and expenses;
  • Improve strategic planning and business growth strategies using ERP data and analytical reports.
ERP solutions company can develop a custom application to encompass all business processes and operations within the client's business. Software tailored to your particular needs will:

  • Process new orders;
  • Assign orders to individual contributors;
  • Track the order's progress at all stages;
  • Control order delivery to the customer;
  • Track customers' payments;
  • Record regular and non-recurrent expenses;
  • Keep accounting and administrative records;
  • Analyze and generate reports on employee and department efficiency;
  • Charge employees with tasks, remind and notify them of missed deadlines;
  • Perform other automatic tasks, depending on the business' needs and requirements.
If you realize the purpose of ERP system and wish your business to benefit from its implementation, but do not know where to start, reach out to the FreshCode team to schedule a free consultation.

Did you enjoy our brief foray into workflow automation and ERP? If so, share it on social media and subscribe to FreshCode blog for more business insights. While you wait for an update, skim through our previous posts. And share the topics you would like us to cover in the comments below.
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