Two Ways to Increase Efficiencies through Digital Transformation
Part three of a four-part series on what you need to know to stay relevant and competitive in the digital age
As we established in parts one and two of our digital transformation series, there are many benefits to digital transformation. We discussed developing a strategy, performing assessments, and understanding the IT platforms available to support digital transformation. Now, we will focus on software development – the underlying enabler of digital transformation. A key purpose of digital transformation is to make businesses more efficient by expanding digital capabilities. To help illustrate how that might apply to your business or role, we are going to provide two practical examples of digital transformation that apply to improving internal processes: quoting and reporting.
When what once worked, no longer does
As businesses grow, they often discover that manual processes no longer work for their needs. As they get busier, they become too short on time for the labor-heavy steps those manual processes take and the errors that can come with them. In many cases, these manual processes prevent continued growth. In addition, the cost per transaction of manual processes becomes too high to sustain. That’s where digital transformation can help by creating efficiencies, increasing productivity and reducing errors – thus allowing a business to scale.
Quoting: It’s not that we don’t like Excel, but…
A common manual process that we see, especially with manufacturing companies, is creating quotes in Microsoft Excel.
This creates issues for companies for many reasons, including lack of revision control, inability to see all open quotes, and no way to easily update a standard rate across many different files. And probably the biggest frustration with this tool – you have to re-enter data into another system after the quote is approved by the client.
To improve this process, creating a custom quoting application matched to your unique business needs is ideal. We don’t recommend buying software “off the shelf” in this case, since there are often problems with configuration, and it will not give you enough flexibility and control. Custom applications allow you to create a tool that will do everything you need it to, including integrating with other software that you use to run the business. Plus, you can ensure that it’s web-enabled, which is critical in today’s mobile-driven world.
SSR worked with a client who wanted to provide quotes to their customers as quickly as possible, but their cost estimation process was slowing them down. It required entering data into multiple programs and took a considerable amount of time and effort. The quoting tool they were using was not meeting their needs and it did not allow for customization. SSR built an application that eliminated the manual, paper-heavy process and allows the team to quickly create accurate quotes. The application integrates with the company’s accounting software to eliminate the need for re-entering data. This company has streamlined their quoting and resource planning processes, allowing them to deliver quotes to their customers faster and operating their business more efficiently.
Reporting: “Visualizing” the future
Another common internal business process that digital transformation can make more efficient is report creation. As an example, an accounting department often creates financial reports on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
These reports take an accounting professional many hours of work, which gets costly overtime, ties them up from doing more strategic work, and you have to wait to get the reports until that person is ready to deliver them.
In addition, these reports show you information that happened in the past, which is important information, but what if your data could show you what is likely to happen in the future? With digital transformation – through Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Visualization – that is actually possible.
BI provides automated reporting with better data to make more informed business decisions. With BI, you can connect multiple sources such as your CRM and data from departments like operations, sales, and accounting. With Data Visualization, this data comes together in the form of dashboards, a visual representation of that data in charts and graphs giving you insights that can be easily interpreted and shared. Some companies even display these dashboards on monitors in the office for the team to see a real-time report of the company’s progress. In addition, you can create triggers to be notified of anomalies such as a decrease or increase in orders. And, it can help you foresee future resource needs, such as additional staff necessary to meet an upcoming surge in business.
One of our clients was growing exponentially but was challenged with a difficulty in accessing their sales performance data. The cumbersome process of creating a report was taking five weeks on average, and at a minimum, they needed the information on a weekly basis. SSR created a BI application that is integrated with the client’s CRM to automatically create easy-to-read graphs and charts showing company sales performance. A dashboard of analytics is now instantly available at any time, no waiting required. This company has saved a significant amount of time by creating a custom application that eliminates the need for manually pulling data to create reports. They now have data at their fingertips and insights that they use to make critical decisions and plans to continue to reach their growth goals.
Making technology work for your unique business needs
Besides quoting and reporting, there are many internal processes that companies use that are manual and could be streamlined through digital transformation. Which of these in your business could become digital?
The technology is there for the taking. Your unique business needs can be translated into applications that allow you to spend less time on manual processes and more time focused on what drives your business.
Contact us to learn more.