Robotic Processing Automation

How to digitize business operations?

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How to digitize business operations?

Digital transformation involves integrating digital technologies to change and improve business operations. Adopting digital technologies offers several benefits, such as heightened operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and agile responses to market trends. Thus, legacy enterprises must prioritize digital transformation to sustain competitiveness and relevance. By modernizing traditional business processes, organizations can make well-informed strategic choices while nurturing a culture of innovation and creativity.

On the other hand, manual processes involve repetitive tasks like copying data, tracking paperwork, waiting for approvals, and managing duplicate information. Moreover, they are prone to errors, as repetitive tasks can lead to mistakes that impact accuracy and cause increased operational costs.

Cloud-based solutions are at the core of digital transformation. The latest Deloitte Future of Cloud Survey shows that 90% of companies see the cloud as vital for growth, especially when combined with AI, IoT, and analytics. Additionally, 88% of respondents view the cloud as a key component in their digital transformation, highlighting its critical role in revenue generation and maintaining a solid market position.

What goes into legacy business digitalization? From defining your digital transformation goals to choosing the right digital automation tool, here's your complete guide.

Step-by-step guide to digitize your business operations

In the age of big data and artificial intelligence (AI), a legacy business owner's digital transition has become increasingly crucial. Relying on legacy platforms can impede adaptability. Nearly every enterprise encounters technical debt from legacy systems, and if your business persists over time, you're likely to face this challenge as well. Accenture reports that 72% of C-suite executives feel held back by their legacy platforms. The productivity drain stemming from outdated software and hardware is a considerable financial burden, costing U.S. companies an estimated $1.14 trillion annually.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to modernizing your business processes:

Step 1 : Assess your current business process

The first step involves a comprehensive evaluation of your existing business processes. The following are its primary aspects:

i) Identify manual and paper-based processes

Identifying manual and paper-based processes is crucial for pinpointing areas for automation, reducing time and errors. This is a vital step toward digital transformation and offers clarity towards your organization's technology adoption.

Start by conducting a thorough inventory and identifying tasks that rely on manual efforts or involve paper-based documentation. Examples include manual data entry, physical paperwork handling, or any process that lacks digital automation.

ii) Pinpoint bottlenecks and pain points

Once you identify manual and paper-based processes, analyze them to locate bottlenecks and pain points. These bottlenecks represent areas where processes slow down or get congested, causing delays or inefficiencies. Subsequently, recognizing pain points helps you understand aspects of the process that cause frustration, errors, or other issues for employees or customers. 

iii) Determine key areas for improvement

Based on the identified bottlenecks and pain points, determine key areas for improvement. This may involve introducing automation to streamline manual processes, adopting digital tools or software to enhance efficiency, or reconfiguring workflows to eliminate unnecessary steps. 

Step 2: Define your digital transformation goals

This step is crucial to gaining a sense of direction, purpose, and a measurable outcome. It ensures that digital technology integration contributes meaningfully to the success and resilience of your business. Here’s how to begin:

i) Set clear objectives for automation

Clearly outline the specific processes or tasks you intend to automate. Establish measurable goals, such as reducing processing time, minimizing errors, or enhancing overall efficiency. This step helps ensure a focused and targeted approach to your digital transformation efforts.

ii) Consider the long-term vision for your business

Align digital transformation goals with an overarching vision for your business. For instance, a lending institution aiming to shorten the loan processing lifecycle can utilize OCR for efficient data extraction.

Evaluate how technology adoption contributes to your long-term success and growth. It ensures that your efforts are not only immediate but also a strategic investment into the future.

Step 3: Choose the right automation tools

Choosing the right automation tools is pivotal for your business. It enhances efficiency by streamlining processes and accelerating tasks, ensuring that automation aligns with specific organizational needs and workflows. 

i) Workflow automation

Workflow automation utilizes software to perform tasks without human input, making work faster, easier, and more consistent. It reduces the necessity for manual work and repetitive tasks.

ii) Select workflow management software

Choose a suitable platform that aligns with your business needs. Look for features that facilitate process automation, task tracking, and collaboration. 

Factor in cost, budget, and the number of users, and consider scalability for future business growth.

iii) Integrate automation tools with your existing systems

Ensure seamless integration with your current software and systems to maintain data    continuity and streamline operations

iv) Data extraction and document processing automation

Document-intensive workflows are widespread in various industries, from legal and financial sectors to healthcare and logistics. Automating data extraction and document processing boosts time and cost efficiency by capturing data from diverse documents. This redirection reduces reliance on labor-intensive manual tasks and allows organizations to focus on high-value activities.

Types of document capture solutions

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology converts scanned or photographed documents into editable and searchable data. It recognizes text, enabling the extraction of information from various document formats, including images and PDFs. 

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) solution

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) goes beyond OCR by leveraging advanced machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to understand and interpret the context of documents. This technology not only extracts text but also comprehends contexts, leading to more sophisticated data extraction and processing. IDP is particularly valuable when dealing with complex documents and unstructured data.

Barcode and QR code scanning

This technology swiftly reads and decodes information stored in barcodes and QR codes, reducing manual entry errors and finding applications in retail, logistics, and inventory management.

Image recognition

A subset of computer vision that uses advanced algorithms like CNN for precise identification of objects, places, and people. It is applied in medical imaging, automates data extraction from documents, and ensures quality control in manufacturing.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP applies computational techniques like named entity recognition (NER) for structured information extraction from unstructured text data. It finds applications in healthcare, legal documents, and customer reviews.

v) Evaluating data extraction and recognition software:

Consider accuracy, scalability, integration capabilities, and user friendliness when choosing data extraction software. Thoroughly assessing the specific requirements of your document processing workflows helps you choose a solution aligned with your organizational needs.

vi) Implement workflow automation

Workflow automation involves streamlining and optimizing business processes using technology to automate repetitive tasks.

vii) Map out existing processes

Workflow automation begins by identifying and defining key processes like approval workflows and data entry. Document current workflows, noting decision points, dependencies, and stakeholder involvement. Analyze the data flow, considering inputs, outputs, and dependencies. Collaborate with stakeholders to gather feedback and pinpoint areas for improvement. 

viii) Design automated workflows

Define clear automation objectives, specifying goals such as reducing processing time, minimizing errors, or enhancing communication. Choose suitable automation tools, whether BPM software, RPA tools, or custom solutions. 

Design visual workflow diagrams to illustrate task sequences and interactions. Allocate roles and permissions, clearly defining responsibilities and ensuring restricted access for authorized individuals. Identify integration points with your CRM or ERP to maintain seamless data flow.

ix) Test and refine workflows

Gather feedback from users and stakeholders to identify unforeseen issues. Monitor performance by tracking key indicators like efficiency, accuracy, and turnaround time. Utilize feedback and performance data to refine workflows and enhance the user experience. 

x) Website Automation Tools

Just as workflow automation makes work faster, easier, and more consistent, integrating website automation tools can help optimize your online presence and improve user experiences. Such AI tools can create and optimize landing pages, integrate with other tools, and update content regularly with no code knowledge needed. 

For instance, Hostinger AI website builder not only offers a network of proficient tools for creating and optimizing websites but also provides functionality for launching targeted ad campaigns through popular platforms such as Google and Facebook, ensuring a comprehensive approach to online presence management.

Step 4: Implement document processing automation

You can further streamline document-intensive workflows by implementing document processing automation. Doing so significantly reduces manual errors and processing time. It accelerates information retrieval, ensures compliance, and improves decision-making and data integrity.

i) Digitize documents and data sources

Digitizing documents and data sources is a critical step in modernizing business processes. Begin by thoroughly assessing all relevant documents and data sources, categorizing them based on type, importance, and frequency of use. Next, choose suitable digitization methods like document scanning, OCR, and data entry software. Ensure alignment with the nature and format of the documents.

ii) Choose a data capture solution

Opt for tools aligned with organizational needs, be they intelligent document processing (IDP) software or customized solutions. Ensure seamless integration with systems like CRM and ERP to prevent data silos and bolster overall efficiency. Clearly define data capture parameters, specifying fields, formats, and validation criteria, and regularly update them to align with evolving needs. 

iii) Training and support

Develop comprehensive training programs, such as hands-on sessions, documentation, and online resources for ongoing learning. Tailor training sessions to different roles, ensuring each staff member comprehends the tools relevant to their responsibilities. Establish a feedback mechanism to address challenges.

Step 5: Streamline data analysis

Foster a data-driven culture and ensure your organization stays agile, responsive, and competitive.

Here's how to streamline data analysis:

i) Identify analytics and reporting tools

Identify analytics tools tailored to your organization's needs. They can range from business intelligence platforms to advanced analytics solutions. Consider your analytics requirements and customization preferences, and choose a user-friendly interface aligned with your team's skills.

ii) Define KPIs

Align KPIs with business goals and ensure a direct connection to specific aspects of organizational performance. Define quantifiable metrics, including lead indicators like document processing speed and lagging indicators such as error rates. Regularly review and adjust KPIs to reflect changing business priorities.

iii) Ensure compatibility with your data sources

Ensure compatibility with your existing data sources for seamless integration. Evaluate whether the selected analytics tools can connect to and extract data from diverse sources, such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and cloud-based platforms like Google BigQuery. This compatibility ensures a smooth flow of data.

iv) Automate reporting and data visualization

Utilize data visualization tools and incorporate charts and graphs for clarity. Foster interactivity and enable users to drill down into specific data points for deeper insights.

Step 6: Ensure data security and compliance

Data security and compliance are crucial for safeguarding sensitive information, maintaining trust, and meeting legal requirements. In document processing, where confidentiality is paramount, these measures enable a secure operational environment.

i) Enable data security protocols

Utilize access controls to restrict unauthorized entry and enable role-based permissions for limited information access. Implement encryption for data both in transit and at rest, ensuring the protection of documents during transmission and storage. Establish audit trails for user activity tracking.

ii) Comply with industry regulations

Complying with industry regulations is a must. Adhere to data privacy laws like GDPR and HIPAA to securely handle sensitive information. Conduct regular audits to ensure continuous compliance, adapting protocols to align with any changes in legislation. This proactive approach ensures adherence to legal standards and the responsible management of sensitive information.

iii) Regularly update and monitor security measures

Conduct regular software updates to patch vulnerabilities and keep security features current. Ongoing employee training on security protocols reduces the risk of human error and potential breaches. Implementing continuous monitoring systems ensures real-time detection and response to security threats, such as malware or phishing attempts.

Charting the future with digital transformation

The journey towards digital transformation for legacy businesses is not just a modernization effort. It is a strategic imperative to stay competitive in today's rapidly evolving business landscape. By undertaking a comprehensive assessment of current processes, defining clear digital transformation goals, and choosing the right automation tools, businesses can position themselves for success.

Suggested Case Study
Automating Portfolio Management for Westland Real Estate Group
The portfolio includes 14,000 units across all divisions across Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Inland Empire.
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Pankaj Tripathi
Written by
Pankaj Tripathi

Helping enterprises capture data for analytics and decisioning

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