While it’s always good to monitor costs and identify areas where they can be cut painlessly, sometimes we’re put in a position of having to cut costs even if it causes disruption. Rather than taking a “slash and burn” approach, which can lead to unforeseen problems later on, it’s better to take time up front and strategize about ways to trim operational costs that make sense both now and over the long term.
Cost reduction success is rarely about implementing a magical new technology but is more likely to be the result of understanding where innovation can make the most difference with the least upheaval. Here are 5 ways you can use workflow software to trim operational costs.
1. Make Paper-Based Workflows Electronic
There is simply no reason to continue most paper-based workflows that involve someone filling out a form and another person acting on it, especially if it requires that a clerk enters handwritten data into a spreadsheet or database. Paper forms can easily be lost or damaged, but electronic ones won’t be, and if they need to be archived they can be without investing in yet another filing cabinet. See what happens when you take one simple paper-based workflow (like applying for a parking pass) and make it into an electronic workflow that’s accessible on your network.
2. Audit Old Processes to Determine if Steps Can Be Eliminated
Business processes often continue to run as they always have simply because everyone is used to doing it that way. But new technologies and new requirements can often allow changes to workflows that eliminate unnecessary steps and accelerate processes. Maybe the department head’s signature is no longer necessary for approving an expense. If so, why not eliminate that step from the workflow? Every six months to a year, it’s wise to review frequently-used workflows and if possible, modify them so they take fewer steps or are less convoluted.
3. Facilitate Better Cross-Department Communication
Sometimes a business process begins in one department and continues in another. In these cases, simply crossing a departmental boundary can present an obstacle to speedy workflow accomplishment. Workflow software that automatically sends out a “heads-up” email to key personnel in another department that their input will soon be required can help prevent workflows languishing simply because nobody in the second department bothered to check workflow status. Better cross-department communication can also help your organization eliminate duplicated effort.
4. Eliminate Human-Based Data Entry When Possible
Even the most experienced and skilled data entry clerks can make mistakes, particularly if they are working with handwritten information. Electronic form software allows process users (the employees who are asking for IT help or requesting a building key, for example) to input required information right from their keyboards, making data entry a one-time event. Some form software packages can interface with other software, such as spreadsheet software, funneling data entered by process users automatically, so data is entered once and is automatically routed to other forms, databases, and spreadsheets where it is needed.
5. Make Electronic Forms “Smart”
Another great way to trim costs is by reducing human error. The right form software will allow you to place restrictions on data input fields so that input errors are less likely. If someone mistakenly enters a word into a field that requires numeric input, an electronic form can pop up an error message explaining what has gone wrong so the user can address the problem immediately. Many form and workflow software packages allow you to include conveniences like drop-down menus for users to choose their inputs from, ensuring uniformity no matter who uses the software, and eliminating many errors (and the time spent unraveling and fixing them).
PerfectApps is a form software company that makes it easy to convert cumbersome, error-prone paper forms into easy-to-use electronic forms. It is also comprehensive workflow software that allows you to create sleek electronic workflows that can be fine-tuned as necessary and that transcend departmental boundaries with ease. Automatic notifications are easy to add, so everyone involved in a process knows when their input is needed. We invite you to watch our demo video and see how easy it is to create electronic forms and workflows that save your organization valuable time and money while improving accuracy and reducing error rates.