Digital Transformation and Business Process Improvement: Synergies and Strategies

Posted by MESHDS on Nov 23, 2023 8:00:00 AM


The term digital transformation is not just a buzzword. It is a critical factor in enhancing business processes for business owners struggling to improve efficiency and reduce costs. It integrates digital technology into your business to change operations at every touchpoint to deliver more value to your customers and team. Here, we delve into the dynamic relationship between digital transformation and the enhancement of business processes, to explain how they intersect and reinforce each other.

Addressing Business Process Improvement

Business process improvement or BPI analyzes business processes to find opportunities to improve whether it is accuracy, workforce and business effectiveness, or overall efficiency. BPI meaning is all about change to gain efficiencies and improve standards. However, business process improvement needs to address both formal and informal processes to work.

What are formal processes?

Formal processes tend to be documented or at least follow specific steps across the enterprise. These processes might address paying accounts payable invoices, certain approval steps to get marketing pieces to market, or very complex manufacturing and product development steps. They also often include important details that ensure your business remains compliant, meets a certain level of customer service and product quality, adheres to labour laws, meets its legal obligations, etc. By addressing process improvement for formal processes, you create standards that ensure you complete everything to established quality levels and remain compliant both with your own requirements and those established by governing bodies.

What are informal processes?

Informal processes tend to be more troublesome in that they lack structure and can fall by the wayside. When properly implemented, they can improve your productivity as they address internal and external issues so you can complete tasks as efficiently as possible. Although often not recorded or documented, the instructions are passed on among departments and during the onboarding process to ensure your team can achieve certain goals. These steps tend to be proven to improve efficiency and reduce errors because they are established based on experience.

What is Business Process Improvement?

Process improvement methodologies commonly used by organizations include:

  • Kanban: This process uses visual workflow management to look for ways to improve steps in your procedures. It’s easier to spot common bottlenecks and challenges when they are outlined on a board to inform changes that improve the process. Team members can contribute ideas to make improvements based on their own experience, allowing you to constantly implement better and more effective process ideas.
  • Kaizen: Meaning “change for better” in Japanese, this approach looks for waste, improves flow and continuously improves processes to bring more value, whether it is in the flow of information or the flow of work.
  • 5S: At the core of Lean manufacturing, 5S refers to five components that contribute to improved efficiency:
    • Sort
    • Set in Order
    • Shine
    • Standardize
    • Sustain

Following these steps creates organization and flow to improve workspace layout and in turn, operational efficiency. It creates a logical environment where everyone can work productively with minimal effort.

  • PDCA: PDCA is plan, do, check and act, which can applied to everything your business does. This approach provides structure and follows the same steps before and during the implementation of projects and business activities.
  • Value stream mapping: Value stream mapping optimizes productivity using a chart to see the steps involved in a process. It focuses on value to improve workflows and prioritize steps to reduce waste.

How Does Digital Transformation Aid with Business Process Improvement?

Today, digital transformation is at the heart of business process improvement. It introduces digital technologies to either modify or create new business processes to achieve improved productivity, efficiency, and customer experiences. You really can’t have one without the other, as they share common goals focused on improving value. Digital transformation allows your improvements to be implemented easily, so you remain agile to keep up with future trends.

The transition to using digitized information and document management software establishes secure, efficient workflows that allow your teams to scan, store and share information, completely changing how you interact. As a result, you become faster and better across all aspects of the business. You have instant access to the information you need to conduct business and provide meaningful customer experiences without the need for outdated paperwork. Digital transformation is all about new and improved ways to do things, creating measurable processes you can track and upgrade along with changing technology.

The Digitization of Business Processes

Digitization of business processes allows your business to address challenges and develop solutions for the following common problems you likely face today:

  • Poor customer service due to time-consuming paper order tracking systems
  • Team frustration related to outdated paper systems that slow them down and demand repetitive, manual tasks such as photocopying, filing, manual file retrieval, etc.
  • Duplication of work with multiple versions of documents circulating across the business
  • Incomplete work due to missed steps along the paper trail
  • Error-prone work related to manual data entry
  • Increasing costs related to time-consuming manual processes, error corrections, tracking lost documents, sharing incorrect information, etc.
  • Wasted resources working on low-value tasks 
  • Bottlenecks such as time-consuming manual approval processes
  • Lagging in time to market for product launches and promotions, losing your competitive edge

Digitization allows you to overcome these common issues and align new business processes with automated workflows that replace improper business processes. By scanning paper to digital you can search for, retrieve, process, and share information instantly all from a highly secure cloud-based system. 

As a result, you create a more collaborative workforce where decisions are made quickly, team members aren’t wasting time on an endless, inefficient paper trail, and customer orders and interactions are tracked in real time. By switching to paperless policies with simplified and formalized procedures that can be measured you continue to gain new efficiencies for long term success effortlessly.

Digital Transformation and Business Process Improvement

How To Improve Business Processes

Business process digital transformation strategies can be achieved through the following techniques:

  • Reviewing all business processes: Hold a think tank with the people involved in each process to ensure you receive valuable input from the people doing the actual work. Document the process including both the “official” steps and unavoidable steps the process forces people to take. This provides the opportunity to implement change to reduce common signs of inefficiency.
  • Digitizing business processes: With an understanding of existing processes, identify the most time-consuming steps where you can introduce tools and technologies to help streamline the process. Where are common bottlenecks? Where do team members encounter frustrations? What frustrates your customers? How can automation improve this process? This allows you to align digital transformation with your business improvements.
  • Implement change: Deploy your new digital tools and systems along with formal training. Take one process and use it as an example to iron out issues and receive employee feedback before rolling it out across the organization.
  • Measure results and improve: Mark key indicators you need to measure so you can continue to find ways to improve. Keep up to date on the latest technology trends to ensure you future-proof your procedures and continue to benefit from the intended effectiveness of your changes.

Digital transformation of business processes allows you to leverage digital technologies to improve operational efficiency, customer experiences, and overall competitiveness.

Digital Transformation and Business Process Improvement

Now’s the time to embrace digital transformation and business process improvement with a document management system. Speak to the experts at MES to learn how we can improve efficiency by leveraging the synergies and strategies that create a highly efficient digitized office. Click here to set up a free demo and consultation.

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