Process management: clever investment returns millions
The DNB team oversees improvements to the efficiency of operational processes. Our aim is to ensure high-quality information management with minimal consumption of time and paper. These goals are definitely not easy or quickly achievable, but the results are worth the efforts – helping an organisation save thousands of euros and staff to spend less time managing documents and more time serving customers.
It is more than 10 years since we implemented the DocLogix document- and process-management system. This yielded a return on investment (ROI) of not hundreds but thousands of per cent. More specifically, our skills, diligent work and use of DocLogix technology meant that each euro invested in the system produced a return of €57. The benefit of using this is the time saved on operational processes (automation and optimisation) and the direct costs of printing and paper. I will share some tips that will be helpful to those who may not see much value in acquiring the document- and process-management systems, and hope my advice will help those who are considering it to make up their minds and take the first steps.
1. Make clever investments and put your purchase to work
Investing in IT solutions that help simplify information and document management is a standard practice at most companies. However, without further actions, installing a solution is a dead end. You do not grow muscles by simply purchasing costly training equipment. Tangible benefits become visible when you make the system work at its optimal level by adapting it to the needs of your company and transferring document- and information-management processes from paper to the system. This can be achieved only if people commit to it. Do not expect the system to break even straight away: it will take a few years, but the return on investment will be higher if you can first identify the processes that consume the most time and paper, and only then integrate them into the system.
2. Use of the system: managed by one for the benefit of many
The improvement of processes must be the goal not just of one division or project, but an organisation’s global and strategic approach towards its operations. This is the best way to involve staff. Appointing a person or division to take responsibility for these matters is part of the route to success, because then everyone will know who to contact over them and who is able to weigh up the benefits.
3. An independently configured system means freedom of action
You will need the help of a specialist (or even an entire team) to make optimal use of the system. We install a platform with wide possibilities for configuration, making us almost independent of the system manufacturer. All we require is occasional consultations to help us in the development of complex processes. The main purpose of all these changes is to establish a system that can ultimately “think instead of the user”. Doing this presents a major challenge, but, speaking from my own experience, I can assure you that it is definitely achievable.
4. Start small, but do not stop there
Small steps are a perfect way to drive forward, as we have experienced. We started by automating several processes at a time, which were those that are “less popular” at the organisation. Once they were systematised, we were able to show evident benefits to users and win their trust, thus preparing ourselves for the next steps. After processes are integrated into the system, your staff will quickly feel the benefits. The automated movement of information helps to develop trust among employees and make such practices a habit.
5. Benefits are not emotions, but facts
If you wish to change the attitude of your staff, DMS (Document Management System) or intentions alone will not suffice. Concrete facts aid the motivation of employees to move forward and discover other possibilities that the system offers. To see improvements, you need to recognise your situation prior to DMS implementation and process automation. Let me provide a simple example to show how you can compare processes before and after digitalisation:
The tables show that after integration the processes into the system, the time taken for the business-trip documentation process at our bank fell from 8 hours to 6 minutes. To calculate the financial benefits, the net working time of an employee saved during this process needs to be counted. In this case, the net working time of an employee was reduced from 16 to 6 minutes. This means that we were able to save 10 minutes of one employee’s working time. This process is repeated 3800 times a year, saving 633 working hours, or 79 business days. Adding in the costs for paper and administration means a saving of €13,000 every year – and these are the benefits offered by just one automated process. Clearly, the more processes you can automate, the greater the financial benefits you will enjoy. The calculation, which leaves no room for interpretation, demonstrates the true value of the work you do, as well as motivating and enhancing involvement.
6. “Soft” benefits are also important
Aside from tangible benefits, there are other advantages that are no less important that cannot be measured in euros or hours. If there are very few people reading instructions and calling for consultations, with a high level of employee satisfaction rate, this means a newly implemented process is simple enough for this to happen. For example, employees give the business-trip documentation process a rating of 5.7 out of 6 points. Employee surveys are the easiest method of evaluation, and we include three short questions in a survey offered two months after a new process is introduced. A good rating is wonderful, but you need to value criticism or new proposals even more, because they reflect the organisation’s involvement and this will help you grow.
7. Walk a consistent path to save a million
Advanced IT solutions, dynamic management of a solution, proactive employees, processes integrated early, hours saved and consistent development are a wheel which spins off not only a million saving initiative, but alter an organisation from within. Innovative processes motivate people to continue developing and be proud of what they have created to date. It is then that we suddenly realise we did not even have to “break” old habits.