The Impact Inefficient Workflows Can Have on Your Organization
The term “workflow” gets used a lot in business, but it can mean many different things depending on who you are talking to. Workflow automation. Workflow optimization. Personal workflow management. Unfortunately, the more these buzzwords are used, the less meaningful they become.
The truth is, most businesses do have real workflow problems but they often go unaddressed as organizations have become complacent with the way of doing things or simply don’t realize that there is an issue.
Since workflow can have many different meanings, talking about improving workflows can sometimes sound like a daunting task. Finding a way to optimize workflows could be as simple as finding a solution to streamline the expense report process. For other organizations, however, improving workflows could be as complex as finding a way to optimize their assembly line manufacturing process.
Considering that most businesses deal with accounts payable, let’s take this example and demonstrate how this workflow could be improved:
ABC Clothing is a local outfit with four locations in the greater metro area. While business is booming, the company still processes accounts payable manually. Unfortunately, the mounds of paperwork involved in the accounts payable process is extremely time consuming and tedious to work through, and the woman in charge of Finance spends a good part of her day dealing with this. It should be mentioned that this woman has her MBA and a great mind for business, and her time would be better spent improving business strategy and the company’s bottom line.
Currently the company uses couriers to transfer all accounts payable documents from the other locations to the back office at the company’s main location. This requires that the Finance Manager manually fill out the invoice, scan it to save a version to the computer, send a payment to the vendor and enter it into the accounting system.
Fortunately, there is a way to cut out a lot of these wasteful steps. Here is how this workflow could be improved:
An employee at any location that receives an invoice can scan it directly to accounts payable. The invoice is then automatically processed, assuming it falls under a certain dollar amount, and Finance would be alerted if approval is needed. Once the invoice is approved, payment is sent to the vendor and a record is saved. This information is automatically reflected in the accounting system.
With this improved workflow, no manual entry is required, helping to minimize human error. The accounting system is smart enough to identify and pull out important details like name, PO numbers, dates and dollar amounts. The Finance team is no longer bogged down with the tedious details and can focus on optimizing their bottom line.