Immediate and sustainable productivity improvements across an entire organization are the primary reasons behind most software implementation projects. But software in isolation can’t solve business problems. There’s no point incorporating your old ways into new work practices, trying to automate what you’re doing now.
Staff hear discussions about efficiency and automation and simply hear job losses. While it’s true that achieving change will involve the redistribution of certain tasks, fears about wholesale layoffs are largely unfounded.
What actually happens is that your staff will be liberated from the time-consuming, repetitive parts of their responsibilities to focus more on improving customer service and broadening their skillsets. Space is created for them to be able to draw on their accumulated knowledge of the business and understanding of your clients – rather than their ability to key in data and find pieces of paper.
Across your organization there will be tasks that are repeated day in and day out, where the intervention of your staff adds no value to the business or to your customer relations. These standard operations are the ones that should be first on the to-be-automated list.
When all the consistent processes come through a workflow automatically, your staff will only have to deal with whatever is flagged as an exception. By using their individual and collective expertise, they will work more efficiently and bring productivity gains business-wide.
An obvious value example of task redistribution within your total workflow is found in changing the point of data capture. By moving the entry of data toward the front end of your operations you can secure high quality and accurate data for all the steps and activities that follow. Each department only needs to add the information specific to their requirements, rather than starting from scratch each time.
Businesses with teams that work independently—for air import, air export, sea import, road, rail, and so on—can now come together in a streamlined process, each step configured exactly as it needs to be from one mode to another. Standardizing your processes brings other benefits as well. Your staff gains greater awareness of the wider business. Because staff skillsets become more versatile, the whole organization becomes more flexible, making it easier to cover growth, sick leave, and holidays. And because your people gain a greater understanding of others’ operational roles, implementing changes later on will be far easier.
So if immediate and sustainable productivity improvements are the primary reasons behind your next software implementation, go beyond the feature list and ask how the software can change you into a leaner, smarter operation.
Stuart Mann is global implementation manager for WiseTech Global, a creator and developer of cloud-based software solutions headquartered in Sydney, Australia.