Every business needs to be productive these days. Bigger, faster, better, stronger. Becoming successful is one thing, but remaining competitive in a digital era is something that many are still striving for. In many brick and mortar businesses, there is this fear that technology can wreak havoc in ‘the way things are’ and so they fail to adopt anything new. And for those who have existing software, the question is: Should they let it run their operations instead?
Defining Your Needs: BPA Versus BPM
As a business owner, you are on the constant lookout for a powerful tool that will help your company run optimally. Before we answer the question as to whether one should learn to adapt or not, let’s go back to the very basics of managing and automating business processes. Know that they are not one and the same.
BPA (Business Process Automation)
Allows you to automate certain activities or services. For example, you have a software that converts paper files into electronic format. Automation here is triggered by a specific event and aimed at a single goal. Most of the time, businesses will have some automated software with built-in functions, flexibility and usability to help automate a certain process, and which can also be a part of a larger BPM Strategy.
BPM (Business Process Management)
Sometimes, for some reasons, some business processes are slow and inefficient. Think of BPM as a tool to fine-tune those unproductive areas so you can fix it and achieve maximum performance; it’s like your engine oil. While automation can be a part of working on your organization’s BPM, you are now looking at a bigger picture where the software you use evolve along with your changing business needs, and in the long run, reduce instances of human error (most particularly, in manual data entry). Having a systematic approach to improving processes is key to a happier and more productive workforce – which will result to happier customers and higher revenues. As Gartner defines, ‘Business process management is a discipline that improves enterprise performance by driving operational excellence and business agility.’
The Big Question
“Change Your Business Process or Change Your Software?”
There are two ways to answer this, depending on what situation you are in. When many industries are in constant flux and the race to stay competitive becomes tougher than ever, how can you create sustainable changes in the way things are that will result in more efficient processes, reduced costs of doing business, and an improved productivity?
Let’s take a look at these options. You may agree or disagree with me; there’s a comment section for that.
Option 1: Change Your Software to Fit Your Business Process
Most often, business owners would feel frustrated with their generic software that they will look for experts to customize it. This will cost top dollar, and it may work. Then again, it may not. When it comes to your success, it simply doesn’t lie on software alone. A safer approach would be running your business on 25% software, and 75% business processes.
Think of it as a reality vs expectations case, where there is a disconnect between how everyone in your team performs against what software is used to help them do the job. With the explosion of custom applications, almost everything in the world is run on software these days – on local machines, data centers, the cloud, and on personal devices.
While the argument that a company’s competitive advantage is directly tied up to how well developed their software is, there are still a few cases where traditional approaches make more sense in terms of effectivity and cost. At the end of the day, no matter how integrated your custom software is, if your business process is broken – it may not change a thing; it may even make things worse than it is.
Option 2: Change Your Business Process to Fit Your Software
One can argue that no matter how great a software is, if you don’t fix the root cause of the problem (business process), nothing will work. Software needs must match your business needs; not vice-versa. The real culprit here is that many are looking for a quick fix, that silver bullet, to solve their issues.
The trouble with that approach is that you have a badly designed business process in the first place and you try to accelerate these inherent flaws by introducing software that will not effectively address the issue. This can lead to higher costs too, where your team simply become robots at work. And when your software fails, everyone is suddenly left unequipped to resolve the problem.
When custom applications are costly and development time is uncertain, many companies are still taking the old approach where they adapt to whichever software they want to run. Most often, the need to introduce software in your company is more of a business question, rather a technical one. Besides, processes change just as quickly and if you go for bespoke, it may take time for it to adapt to the changes in your business. It would be smarter to find what can assist you right now, so long as your business needs dictate how it should work. Then, you are good.
Bottom Line: Top 3 Benefits You Should Consider
Whether you choose to change your software or your business process, you must carefully consider these specific benefits in doing so:
- Increased Efficiency: Your chosen option must help you reduce waste and repetitive tasks that will benefit your bottom-line
- More Effectiveness: Your chosen option should help you make informed decisions and execute on it faster. This will help you become more profitable and competitive in the long run.
- Agility: Your chosen option must be flexible enough to changes, whether these happen inside or outside (or both) of your organization.
P.S. Need Help Making a Smart Choice? Let’s Talk!
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