The answer has been around since the Industrial Revolution: replace manual and repetitive processes with automated technology. Today the right software can help you make your company run smoothly and efficiently while minimizing costs and labor.
So, what are some examples of optimizing business processes with software? In which areas improvement can bring the most tangible results? For which kinds of projects should you consider hiring a software house?
Examples of business processes you can optimize by developing the right software
Since you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you already have some area for improvement in mind that you’d like to automate (or at least optimize), and you think developing the right system might be the solution you’re seeking. Certain companies even make a whole list of work processes that they’re looking to improve! Some of them are easier to improve than others, and some simply prove to give you more bang for your buck. Check out these 10 types of business processes that Inwedo can help clients optimize with their bespoke software development.
If you want to learn more about business process optimization, read our comprehensive guide to business process optimization.
Recruitment automation software
Are you receiving more CVs than your HR team can handle sifting through? You have a few potential solutions here. You can outsource some of your work instead of hiring more employees, you can hire headhunters or a staffing agency to do the candidate screening for you, or you can automate the CV screening with software. The last solution might just be the perfect one, as it will surely prove the most cost-effective, and will not disrupt the way you do business too much.
To transform the hiring process into a seamless procedure, we recommend developing an automated recruitment tool that will scan the received CVs and select the most suitable ones for the vacancy.
Your HR team is complaining that hiring is becoming too much to handle. You’ve analyzed a few options, and there are shortcomings in each.
- Candidate sourcing and screening is overwhelming your HR team, but you don’t want to outsource your work or hire a recruitment firm;
- The volume or frequency of hiring doesn’t justify hiring a full-time in-house recruiter;
- The hiring platforms available on the market don’t meet your needs: they’re too costly, the filters aren’t accurate enough, or they don’t comply with local privacy regulations.
Developing customized recruitment software can be a cost-effective way to get exactly what you need and ease the workload of your HR team while not breaking the bank.
- The software sifts through all the CVs uploaded to your recruitment site and scans them for keywords: skills, characteristics, systems or tools used, etc.;
- A one-time development cost ensures you get a future-proof tool that your HR team can use for each wave of recruitment in the future;
- It’s tailor-made to fit your unique business characteristics, the regulations of your market, and is on-brand and secure (CVs will be protected against unauthorized access).
- A one-time development cost that removes the need to hire a full-time recruiter, outsource the tasks each time, or pay staffing agency fees;
- Save time for HR – the HR team only needs to check the most suitable CVs and interview pre-selected candidates, giving them time to focus on other tasks by optimizing part of their daily work processes;
- Ensure that HR forwards only the best candidate profiles to managers, saving their precious time.
Automated help desk support software
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” is more than just an IT joke, unfortunately – it’s a real, common solution to many IT issues. Dealing with requests that could be solved this way is a huge waste of time for your help desk employees. Not only does this decrease the number of issues you can solve per day, it increases the wait time for people with more complex issues, therefore reducing their satisfaction and damaging your brand loyalty.
In addition, Forbes reports that 40% of customers prefer self-service over human contact.
Automating your help desk can be a great solution to free up your support staff, keep your customers happy, and increase your help desk engineers’ satisfaction, as many of them prefer challenging tasks over mundane “turn it off and on again”.
So, how do you implement that? An FAQ page is one way, but searching through hundreds of lines of text or forum posts is not a great experience for your customers. Why not have a custom automated help desk? Solutions like a chat bot, email client, and live chat are all ways to enable your customers to reach you faster and better, giving you a competitive edge.
A non-automated help desk presents many issues, but it all boils down to this: inefficiencies and their results.
- Help desk employees are overloaded with simple, mundane tasks, take on too few tickets per day, and their morale is low;
- Service waiting times increase, and customer satisfaction dips;
- FAQ pages and how-to videos spread around the site in a non-centralized way make it difficult for customers to find the relevant information.
By developing a customized automated help desk tool (like a chatbot, live chat system, or email client), you can optimize your customer service process, increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction.
- Help whenever the customer needs it, all in one place and easily found;
- Customers have a choice between self-service and contact with support employees;
- An automated help desk tool provides solutions to most everyday issues in a self-service format (suggesting the right FAQ pages, videos, or individual solutions within the chat).
- Help desk employees’ workload decreases, allowing them to take on more tickets per day;
- Support staff feel more challenged, as their work is less repetitive, mundane, and routine, which raises their morale;
- Customer satisfaction increases as help is easier to find, they have a choice between self-service and customer service support, and the wait times for service decrease.
Optimized task and project management software
The core of almost every business is operations. These can be optimized with software too! Assigning tasks, controlling budgets, and tracking the progress of projects and tasks – all in one place – are just some of the ways that a dedicated system for task or project management can help you optimize your business processes. Effective workflows are the key to working efficiently. You no longer need to rely on spreadsheets, third-party project management tools, or task trackers and to-do lists on the wall to manage your company’s activities.
Software like this provides a dashboard that will allow you to quickly analyze the tasks that all project members (or even all employees!) are expected to perform, along with the timeline for them.
This has multiple applications across your organization, including improving production management, marketing workflow, web content workflow, sales workflow, purchase requisition workflow, and content creation workflow, among others.
And the good news is we have a proven track record in building such software! Check out how we helped our clients optimize their business processes:
- ultra-fresh produce client: developing a production and order management tool
- agriculture client: web-based collaboration app;
- home appliance client: project management & resource planning tool.
When companies grow, so does the number of projects on hand, and managers are overloaded with tracking the progress. Inconvenient and non-real-time project management slows progress down. Reporting, updating, and tracking the progress takes valuable time that could be better spent on getting things done.
- Inefficient tools without real-time insight into work progress;
- Project management resources spread across various applications and files;
- Traditional task tracking, prone to human error.
A one-stop tool for project and task management buys you extra time that your employees can now spend on their core responsibilities. On the other hand, managers can get a better handle on their projects as they can quickly analyze progress, assign tasks and budgets, and generate project reports.
- Dashboard view that summarizes to-dos for employees and gives progress insights for managers – all in one place;
- Always up-to-date, real-time tracking of tasks and resources that allows managers to react to challenges as – or even before – they arise;
- Works across the whole organization, across borders and teams, so you can sync progress and leverage the resources of colleagues in other teams and offices if needed.
- Increased efficiency, allowing managers to handle more projects at the same time;
- Removal of human error, leading to potential financial and operational savings;
- A great tool for international teams that boosts collaboration across the organization, leading to more efficient use of resources.
Want to know how we did it in real life? See how we developed a production and order management tool that analyzes the daily orders and proposes decisions for an ultra-fresh food production company.
Social media management automation tool
“If something isn’t on <insert social media>, it doesn’t exist” rings truer than ever in 2022, as social platforms become an increasingly important sales and marketing tool.
The key to success is regular (weekly, daily, or even hourly!) content flow, which can be a very time-consuming, daunting task – even to full-time social media staff. It’s yet another business process that could be optimized by implementing dedicated software in your organization.
A social media management automation tool can help you schedule your posts ahead of time – be it a day, a week, or a month ahead – at an interval of your choice.
Manual social media management is a daunting task that can give a whole new meaning to the “full” in “full-time”. Work on weekends, evenings, holidays… and even that might not be enough!
- The time-consuming task of uploading content on a regular basis;
- No content published during peak hours, when your social media manager is off work;
- Expensive third-party social media management tools that require recurring subscription fees.
Make the social media manager’s schedule more manageable with a social media management automation tool. This can ensure optimal scheduling of content and publication dates across several platforms and apps. All you need to do is make sure you have enough content and ideas to schedule enough posts for full coverage!
- Feature that allows you to schedule posts at your chosen intervals;
- Complete social media management in one software tool;
- Insight and access for the whole social media team.
- Coverage of peak traffic times, which often fall outside of the social media manager’s working hours, without them needing to work overtime;
- Quicker access to all the social media platforms your company is using – all in one place, saving time;
- Share resources and coordinate between different social media teams across the whole organization.
Audit automation tool
The bigger the business deal, the more complex it is: from cooperation agreements and legal contracts to mergers & acquisitions and investment deals, they all require a thorough audit. And that takes time and effort.
The good news is that not all the audit-related stress needs to fall on your employees! BPM (Business Process Management) tools are readily available to help you speed things up and reduce human error.
A manual audit by your employees is a great effort and takes a huge amount of time. Long audit sessions powered by coffee or Red Bull produce nearly unavoidable human error. Of course, you can hire an outside firm to conduct the audit, but that costs money – and usually a sizable amount.
- Overloaded, tired employees perform the audit work inefficiently;
- Human error is present to a greater or lesser extent, which can have significant financial and legal implications;
- Outsourcing the audit process is costly, and the expense is repeated during each audit.
Automated audit software can help you by streamlining the process and reducing the workload of your employees. By using computing power rather than precious grey matter, a large bulk of the work can be done before humans need to get involved – in short, use your auditors’ brains most efficiently!
- Automate the audit process, making the approval paths smooth and clear, all within the software;
- A basic audit can be conducted by an algorithm, identifying the critical parts for human auditors to take a closer look at;
- One-time development cost.
- More efficiency within the audit process;
- Minimized damage from human error;
- Removal of recurring audit fees.
Purchase order management tool
The purchasing team is complaining that the orders are hitting a snag and clogging up the queue. The pressure on them is growing, as other departments are starting to hit production roadblocks due to a lack of resources, materials, or equipment.
This happens a lot in organizations that handle the purchase approval process via email. The decision-makers are often busy, and the constant influx of emails may cause delays in reviewing all the documents. Some emails even get lost in the clutter.
What if you could streamline and optimize the process by implementing a system with a standardized approval form that simply sends the documents to the right recipients automatically, in the right order? This can be done with the right purchase order management tool, customized to fit your unique needs!
Email approvals are slow and clunky, leading to delays in multiple departments. On top of that, the process is very prone to error, especially as the number of orders increases. Not to mention the large volumes of paper documents generated, and time wasted printing, signing, and scanning them (which isn’t exactly environmentally friendly either).
- Generating documents for each order, sending them via email, printing, signing, scanning, and forwarding them significantly slows down the purchasing process, leading to delays in other departments as well;
- Email approvals are prone to errors by managers – especially in larger organizations or peak order periods;
- The approval process is at times confusing, and each team member needs to remember a different approval path (and therefore an email recipient list) for different purchase types.
The process can be simpler and more efficient. By going digital with your purchase order approval forms, you can make everything quicker, easier, and more environmentally friendly.
- An automated purchase approval tool which allows you to select purchase items and sends the form to the right decision-makers, streamlining the approval process;
- Depending on the selected item, the approval path is automatically adjusted;
- A quick, all-online approval process with digital signatures or even a simple click from the right account.
- Significant time and effort saved as approval can be given in one click;
- Delays related to the wrong approval path and resulting back-and-forth are removed as approval paths are automatically adjusted depending on the item;
- All other departments (e.g. manufacturing, back office, marketing & PR) receive their orders on time and avoid delays.
Digital travel cost reimbursement system
Perhaps your employees’ handwriting isn’t as bad as a stereotypical doctor’s. Still, each person has their own style, and some characters can be misinterpreted by the finance team. This is a very common cause of mistakes in a paper-based travel cost reimbursement process, leading to problems for business travelers and for the finance department. The issue can reach a significant scale if you have a lot of traveling employees! This is especially the case in consulting companies, retailers, or businesses with a large sales force.
A digital travel reimbursement process fixes this issue by removing the need for handwriting altogether. Instead of filling in a paper form (which again, isn’t very environmentally friendly), your business travelers can provide all the necessary information with a couple of clicks and a scan of receipts (which now doesn’t even require a scanner – a smartphone is all you need!)
A paper-based travel cost reimbursement process is not only slow and inefficient but also prone to errors due to the risk of the finance department misreading the applicant’s handwriting.
- The wrong amounts are often reimbursed to applicants;
- The reimbursement process is slow;
- Large volumes of paper documents are created.
An automated, digital travel cost reimbursement system allows the employees to easily select standardized travel items and type the amounts in the right fields, as well as automatically assign approval paths for them. The finance team can then see all pending approvals in a convenient dashboard, approve with a single click, and automate the money transfer to remove most errors.
- Standardized application form with selectable travel items and automatic approval path adjustment;
- Dashboard for managers and the finance team to see all pending approvals in one place;
- The ability to automate payments by submitting transfer orders upon approval.
- An error-free process that minimizes the risk of reimbursing the wrong amounts to employees (approving or issuing a transfer order for the wrong amount);
- Fast and convenient approval form for finance & confusion-free application for traveling employees;
- Removal of paper from the process, helping make your business processes greener.
Employee onboarding software
Each time you make the decision to hire someone, it triggers a whole chain of events. First, HR sends the prospective new hire an employment contract. Once signed, your company prepares all that’s necessary for the employee to start working: IT equipment, email address, accounts in all your internal systems, stationery, onboarding gifts (if you give any)…
If your onboarding process is not yet optimized, and you are using traditional methods, that means that your HR team will be sending emails to each respective department regarding each little thing that needs to be prepared. IT, finance, facilities, purchasing… the list is long, and if you onboard a lot of people in a short time, your HR team could be doing nothing but preparing to welcome new employees. Not to mention the onboarding training after!
What if you could automate all of this so that as soon as the new employee information is entered in the system, a chain of notifications is automatically issued to the appropriate departments? Imagine the time saving for HR and how many possible errors could be removed!
This is possible with a custom HR system for automated employee onboarding, such as the one we developed for a major sport retailer.
Onboarding an employee is a process, each step of which requires the HR team to send emails to different departments. Mistakes can happen easily. Even if everything goes smoothly and according to plan, it’s simply time-consuming and effort-intensive for HR.
- Significant time spent by HR on sending emails to all the respective departments to prepare for the new employee’s arrival;
- The process is prone to error;
- An overwhelming amount of work for HR during a hiring spree.
Software that automates the onboarding process on the HR side helps speed up and error-proof the procedure. All HR needs to do is enter the new employee’s information in the system and choose the appropriate selectable parameters (like department, job responsibilities, position level, training required) to trigger automatic notifications sent to all the respective departments, which can then help HR prepare to welcome the newcomer.
- Selectable parameters that automatically adjust what needs to be prepared by which departments, depending on the data entered;
- Automatic notifications are sent to the relevant departments, e.g. IT, training, legal, finance, facilities, etc.;
- Convenient onboarding dashboard which helps declutter email inboxes.
- Time saving – HR only needs to set the new employee parameters, which triggers the process;
- Error-proof process, allowing HR to minimize damage from overlooking items, selecting the wrong email recipients, or errors in the list of equipment/system/training required for the new employee;
- More manageable to-do list for IT and other departments.
Our solution saved on average 1 hour daily of each employee’s workday and made reporting process 28 days shorter. Here’s how we did it for a home appliance client with a project management & resource planning tool.
Process optimization in business administration
Do your business administrators feel bored by the repetitive, routine tasks? This can lead to fatigue, which in turn can lead to making mistakes that may cost a large amount of money to fix or even trigger a legal issue. Business administration processes can be optimized with process mapping – a systematic way of documenting the steps and time necessary to complete the administrative tasks. Then the processes can be automated to save time, make the job less mundane, and minimize the risk of human error.
Business administration is as time-consuming and effort-intensive as it is boring. Low morale among admin staff, rising costs (some of them to fix damage from human error), and inefficient use of employees’ time are just some of the most obvious results of unoptimized administrative processes.
- Repetitive administrative tasks that drain staff morale;
- Inefficient use of employees’ time that could be allocated to other more “productive” tasks;
- Human error, which takes time to fix and can bring about financial or legal damage.
The good news is that many administrative tasks can be streamlined, optimized, and automated through an easy-to-use system for business administration.
- Process mapping to improve the flow of tasks in your company;
- Streamlined and automated administration system, removing manual data entry, paperwork, and email clutter;
- Automatically adjusted process flows and data entry, removing human error.
- Time saved by streamlining repetitive tasks and removal of unnecessary process steps;
- Decreased overtime costs for admin staff and reduced risk of financial and legal damage from human error;
- Employees are free to take on more tasks and enjoy more varied, less repetitive and mundane work, boosting their morale.
Expense management tool
Petty cash, hospitality expenses, travel costs, and equipment/tool purchases are just some of the things your employees will be submitting expense claims for. Getting reimbursed isn’t easy either: for each expense, an employee needs to prepare documents, provide proof of purchase, get a manager’s approval, file the application with finance, and wait for the reimbursement. Doesn’t sound very efficient, does it? Not to mention that it can take weeks for the employee to get their money back. And what if the employee damages or loses the receipt?
A simple expense management tool can help optimize the reimbursement process and remove human error resulting from misreading of employees’ handwriting. It also minimizes the risk of expense claims being rejected due to the proof of purchase being damaged or lost.
Traditional ways for employees to claim reimbursement for expenses are long and inefficient. There are also many potential errors which could hinder the reimbursement, or it could be rejected altogether due to the proof of purchase being lost or damaged.
- Long process requiring the employee to collect signatures from many different entities (e.g. manager, finance department);
- Error-prone due to handwriting being misinterpreted and documents lost or damaged;
- Reimbursement can take weeks to be processed and credited to the employee’s account.
An easy-to-use, customizable expense management system with selectable expense parameters and digital data entry can help your company optimize the reimbursement process.
- Selectable expense parameters;
- Automatic approval path setting;
- All done within the system with no need for paper documents.
- Faster approval process;
- Easier, less confusing reimbursement process;
- Removal of human error, saving the company from losses.
So, which processes can my company optimize?
Wondering which types of business processes can usually be automated or optimized with the help of custom software? We’ve put together a table with a few industries and the processes that could benefit from a digital system to replace the current one.
|Agriculture||Harvest automation, cultivation methods selection|
|Banking||Risk assessment, credit check, overdue payments notice|
|Finance||Billing, invoicing, financial planning, data management|
|Health||Medical assessment, upcoming appointments reminders, drug approval|
|Manufacturing||Order processing, product assembly, quality assurance, maintenance|
|Sales and Marketing||The user onboarding process, customer service, social media management, transactional messages|
|Travel||Trip booking and cancellations, accounting, business travel management|
Why should I invest in custom business process automation?
The job market is increasingly competitive. Not only are you up against other companies, but now talent has plenty of other options, like flexible working arrangements, freelance gigs, and digital entrepreneurship.
Freeing your employees’ time spent on repetitive tasks can increase their productivity and make the job less routine and more enjoyable, boosting their morale and creativity. And this may also attract top-notch talent to your organization. Win-win.
The first step to process optimization is to realize that the issue exists, or at least that there is room for improvement, and you can then look at how to address it. Eventually, you can move on to action and optimize your processes to run smoothly and efficiently with the help of automation.
Hopefully, this article served as food for thought and inspiration for how you could push your company forward, making your day-to-day work more manageable and productive.